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If the Pros Do It . . .

A while back, I wrote an article about watching the pros play in order to improve your tennis game.  Well, what about watching them in order to improve your tennis parenting skills?

As y’all know, I was lucky enough to get to go to the BNP Paribas Open last weekend in Indian Wells and see some amazing tennis.  In two of the matches – Isner (Go Dawg!) vs. Djokovic and Nadal vs. Federer – the higher-ranked player lost.  And, in my non-professional opinion, they lost not only because their opponent played a better match but also because they just weren’t 100% on their game that day.  They were missing shots that they would normally make in their sleep.  They were a half-step slow in their movement around the court.  They seemed a bit out of focus and not really up to the task of problem-solving in the moment.  And they looked frustrated which, especially from Nadal, you rarely see.

So, if these guys – who have been playing this game for probably close to 2/3 of their lives – have off days, why should we expect any different from our junior players?

I saw Djokovic griping to himself and to his player box numerous times throughout his semi-final match against John Isner.  He would throw his hands up as if to say, “Now what?” after another Isner ace.  He would walk back to the baseline with his head down and shoulders slumped after he made another unforced error.  He would look over at his coach with an aggravated look on his face after another failed attempt at a passing shot.

I saw Nadal muttering – in Spanish, of course – at the baseline after failing to keep his forehand deep enough in the court to prevent another Fed winner.  I saw him hit a ball at the back wall in frustration after missing an overhead.  I saw him drop his head, projecting NOT the invincible warrior we’re used to seeing but rather a defeated underdog.

Negative self-talk.  Negative body language.  Griping at the coach.  All behaviors I see from time to time with my son and all behaviors that I cannot stand!  Only now, after seeing some of my favorite professionals do the same things, I’m hoping I can keep them in perspective and remember that if the pros do it, too, then maybe I need to cut my kid (emphasis on kid) a little slack.

If you would like to see my photos from Indian Wells, visit the ParentingAces Facebook page.

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