Examining Expert Coaches’ Views of Parent Roles in 10-and-Under Tennis

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Abstract

There is a paucity of sport parenting research that specifically examines the role parents play in the introductory stages of the youth sport experience, despite the fact that this is when youth involvement is at its highest. To fill this void in the literature, this study examined expert coaches’ views of parent roles in 10-and-under (U10) tennis. Specifically, 14 of the most experienced and successful U10 coaches in the U.S. took part in a series of focus groups that discussed the biggest challenges facing coaches working with parents of players in this age group, effective strategies for working with parents, and best practice advice and recommendations for parents. Results revealed that coaches viewed parents as challenging when they did not understand or “buy into” the developmentally appropriate U10 tennis format, and when they were driven by the need for their child’s immediate success. Coaches believed that parents should adopt a supporter/facilitator versus coaching parenting role, seek to understand child development, take a long-term perspective to tennis development, and work to enhance a positive parent–child relationship. Advice and recommendations for U10 parents included embracing the “journey” of long-term athlete development, planning tennis-related communication and feedback, and finding ways to connect with the culture of tennis. Results are discussed relative to current sport parenting research, with specific recommendations for practice provided.

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