Here is another article in the series from UK Tennis Parent, Paul Ainsworth. Click here for the rest of the series.
Mindfulness has been one of those words that has been difficult to escape from in recent years, whether it is adult colouring books or in my sphere of education, the introduction of mindfulness into the curriculum for year 7 children.
Have you ever stopped to consider what does Mindfulness actually mean?
There are two definitions given to the noun, mindfulness:
- the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
“their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
- a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
The way I like to think about mindfulness is bringing my whole attention to the current situation. So if I’m having a conversation with somebody, I’m entirely focussed on that conversation, rather than thinking about the next thing I have to do or the next person I have to speak to. If I’m watching a television programme, I’m not checking my twitter feed or some other function on my smart phone instead I am concentrating on the plot or programme content.
I would suggest that mindfulness is interesting to practice during a tennis tournament your child is playing in but only if your child is happy with that. I am not suggesting that you stop choosing to read a newspaper, a book or complete another task during tournament if that keeps you calm or because your child doesn’t want you to become to involved in their matches.
What I mean is that if you are both happy with you being fully focussed on your child’s play, the mindfulness you should practice is staying in that moment. How often do you sit during a match and begin to work out who your child’s next opponent could be? Check your child’s results against that player? Or start counting the ranking points or ranking wins your child might gain before they’ve even completed their first match.
It is often found that by having so many different things in our minds or trying to consider too many different outcomes, what we are inevitably doing is creating additional stress for ourselves. By practicing mindfulness and trying to focus on a smaller number of events, our personal stress should reduce too.
Mindfulness means that as a tennis parent you take one match at a time. Just watch that one game and try to enjoy the skills that your child is displaying? Admire the new shot or serve that they have been working on in practice? Or listen to them encouraging themselves?
You will find that if you can do this, you will be less affected if the tournament does not go according to plan and most importantly be better able as a parent to support your child in their disappointments too.
Good luck in your mindfulness.
I am a tennis parent, educationalist and author. My guide for tennis parents is written and I’m now looking for a publisher. You can follow me on on twitter @tennisdaduk.