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Understanding the role parents play in tennis success: a national survey of junior tennis coaches
  1. D Gould1,
  2. L Lauer1,
  3. C Rolo2,
  4. C Jannes3,
  5. N Pennisi4
  1. 1Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
  2. 2University of Porto, Portugal
  3. 3Psy4Sport, Ghent, Belgium
  4. 4Carolina Performance, Raleigh, NC, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor Gould
 Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, Michigan State University, 210 IM Sports Circle, East Lansing, MI 48824-1049, USA; drgould{at}


Objectives: To assess coaches’ perceptions about the role of parents and their positive and negative behaviours in junior tennis.

Methods: A national survey of 132 United States junior tennis coaches was completed. The extent and seriousness/impact of parent-child interaction problems and positive behaviours were rated.

Results: Parents were perceived as very important for junior tennis success. Most parents (59%) that these coaches had worked with were seen as having a positive influence on their player’s development. However, the respondents also felt that 36% of parents negatively influenced their child’s development. Positive parental behaviours included providing logistical, financial, and social-emotional support, as well as tennis opportunities and unconditional love. Negative parent behaviours included overemphasising winning, holding unrealistic expectations, and criticising their child.

Conclusions: Findings are discussed relative to current sport parenting and athletic talent development research and theorising. The need to educate parents is emphasised.

  • tennis
  • parents
  • psychology
  • youth sports

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  • Published Online First 15 May 2006

  • Funding: This study was funded by a USTA Sport Science grant

  • Competing interests: DG is serving as vice chair of the United States Tennis association (USTA) Sport Science Committee and has been reimbursed by the USTA for attending some of their annual conferences. He has also received an honorarium for conducting staff workshops for USTA coaches.

  • This research project was approved by the human subjects research review committee at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, when all the authors were affiliated with the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at that University.