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Understanding the role parents play in tennis success: a national survey of junior tennis coaches


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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