Have you ever wondered what your junior tennis player is thinking? Have you really put yourself on their level and realised they are looking at things from a different perspective? It is an effective tool to help create change.
Junior tennis players are told what to do all the time and don’t get me wrong, direct instructions (technical, motivational, physical) are important and have a massive role in a child’s development and learning capacity. However I find it extremely important for educators (tennis coaches, parents, tennis trainers, mentors) to get on their level (put yourself in their shoes), then encourage them to think for themselves (preparation, recovery, time management, respect for others etc) these are the things we need kids to be aware of for themselves and not be told all the time, understanding how they think and operate will help make this happen. Learn to do it!
My tips on getting a junior tennis player to think more;
1. Listen better = understanding better. When I was studying my life coaching, one of the first things my mentor told me was "God gave you two ears and one mouth, listen twice as much as speak" It has proven to be a valuable tool.
2. Let them work it out. Give them the opportunity to work things out, ask a question (a challenge) and leave them with it e.g. how would you get to the tournament next weekend if your parents can’t take you? Why do you think we do this drill? Doing this gives them a sense of responsibility and confidence and lets them know they have a voice and someone wants to listen, all this builds confidence.
3. Encourage. Make them feel every time they show up, they are going to get mentally challenged and emotionally rewarded for trying, encourage creative thinking and reward it with positive praise. Open their minds, so they are subconsciously expecting to work things out for themselves when they turn up for action. It will have a big impact!!!