Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Who's On Court?

Here's a question for all of you tennis coaches out there: where do your students' parents hang out during your lessons?

My coaching experience began with camps and Jr. Team Tennis, so either there were no parents (camps) or tons of parents (JTT) but all off court since there were so many of them. As I progressed to more traditional clinic-style teaching, the classes were smaller and the times were such (afternoon/evening) that it was not unusual for a few parents to be hanging around waiting for the lesson to be over. Sometimes they drift onto court but I usually ask them to observe off court so that they (and their child) get in the habit of the parents being off court when their child starts playing tournaments. I don't mind that they are very nearby and can hear and see everything we say and do together on court. I just have it in my mind that the only ones on the court should be the players, not the fans.

Recently I observed other teaching pros with a different philosophy. During what appear to be private lessons, while the student is hitting with the pro, the parent is wandering around on court collecting balls and depositing them in the cart. My first impression: hey, this is great! A real time-saver - no tedious ball pickup during the private, all time devoted to instruction. But the closer I looked, the less I liked this. Plenty of convo was going on between parent and pro during lesson, which is fine on one hand, but seems somewhat distracting on the other. I guess I am thinking the lesson time is a time for student and teacher to bond, communicate, collaborate, and the focus should be on the student. But I also understand why developing a similar relationship with the parent is important. Thoughts?