Updated: Feb 9, 2021
On the tennis court you see a lot of different types of parents. Sometimes parents are arranging everything for their child, even the way the child has to play the match. Sometimes you see parents who let their child completely free and they are just enjoying watching their child compete.
I've listed 10 different types of tennis parents and their description: Once I explain what each of these types are, you will probably find out that many of you fit into one of these categories. You may fit into more than one category as well.
There are two things to remember before you go through these descriptions:
1) Parents may exhibit any of these traits to a certain degree. The ones that contain these traits to a larger degree end up being a concern.
2) Each of these types of parents can be dealt with.
1. The competitive parent
Here is what the competitive parent looks like:
The competitive parent places winning above everything. It is a win-at-all-costs mentality.
The competitive parent expects their child to compete at the highest level they can to succeed.
They expect their child to hustle and do what it takes on the court to win the game.
They can get upset if their child doesn't display the same 'will-to-win' as they do when they compete. It becomes frustrating for them to watch a lack of effort.
The competitive parent can't always understand when someone doesn't have the same drive as they do to win.
The competitive parent may talk to the coach about things he or she thinks should be done so their child can win. They want to see their child winning and they would like to offer their coaching 'expertise' to help them out.
The competitive parent may make comments to their children about a lack of effort, when a parent thinks that more can be done during a game or practice. The competitive parent is typically harmless, unless the competitive spirit hurts other people. What you have to watch out for is the competitive parent mixed with one of the other areas. You notice that each one of these parent types is relatively benign when they exhibit single traits. However, once there are three or four of the parent types, and to a greater degree, you quickly realize you are now fighting a multi-headed monster that can get out of control if you don't take action.
2. The uninvolved parent
This is the parent that doesn't care whether their child is involved, but still pays the registration fee in order to get them enrolled. They don't mind if their child misses practices or games, and they aren't particularly interested in whether the child wins or loses.
Here is a deeper look at the uninvolved parent:
The uninvolved parent is one that neither supports nor criticizes their child in tennis.
The uninvolved parent drives their child to practice (when they decide to go), leaves, and then picks the child up after practice. They never ask about the practice, or really engage with the coaches or other parents about the practice or games.
The uninvolved parent doesn't ask about their child's progress, or get concerned when they don't try hard or play up to their potential.
The uninvolved parent usually has a smile on their face, and when you ask them how things are going, everything is usually going OK, no matter what the situation.
The uninvolved parent, even though their personality is usually very passive, they can be frustrating to work with. They are hard to pin down for anything, and they typically aren't reliable. This is hard to combine with any other parent type because the uninvolved parent usually clashes with most of the other types. 3. The "living through your kids" parent
Once again, if you get carried away, it can become a problem. Parents can put too much pressure on their children because they know what they did to reach the level they achieved, so they push their children to get there as well.
You can tell this type of parent by these traits:
They are always telling their children about, "when I played, I always used to do this."
They can get upset with their children if they don't put in the same effort as they did to achieve a high level of success.
The 'living through your kids' parent tells their child, "it's not the way I used to do it."
This parent will push their kids to be the way they are, and to do things how they did when they were playing tennis.
This parent can be even more aggressive if their child is in the same sport they used to compete in.
4. The outspoken parent
This is one parent that can be especially dangerous to face, but if you can get them on your side, they can be equally powerful to your cause. They are the outspoken parents, the ones who are not afraid to say what is on their mind.
Here are some things you might encounter with the outspoken parent:
If they don't like the way their son or daughter is performing on the court etc., they may have no problem embarrassing their child in front of other people because of their outspoken nature.
The outspoken parent may decide they don't like the way the coach is doing his/her job and they will speak up about it. Calling the coach in private is not their style, they would prefer to speak with him/her out in public, and that makes them a problem.
This parent is not afraid to speak their mind, right, wrong, or otherwise. This can cause friction with other parents, other players, and even with their own children.
The outspoken parent will have no problem confronting other parents, other coaches, officials, and even other players in order to get what they want.
The outspoken parent is usually a proud person who will defend their child no matter what the situation. They may tell you, you are wrong, although you are right, just to defend their children.
The outspoken parent can benefit you, if you can get them to respect you and your way of doing things. If they are a positive parent who is outspoken, they can help you sway other parents, or create a positive influence among the entire organization.
5. The "coach" parent
Once again, we have a parent type that can help or hurt a coach. If they are aligned with the coach's way of doing things, then the coach has another coach that can facilitate the learning process for their child in the elements of tennis.
Here are a few of the other traits you can expect from the 'coach' parent:
If something goes wrong with their child as a player, they will always resort to telling whoever will listen, what should have been done.
This parent may tell their child how they think they should play, and what to do in certain situations. This may or may not be parallel to what the coach has been coaching.
The player may go to a practice and after the coach has told them how to do something, they say, "well, that's not how my mom/dad told me to do it."
The 'coach' parent (especially if combined with the outspoken one) will take you aside and offer you 'coaching' pointers. This might not be bad if they offer the ideas constructively.
They may call the coach before a game and offer him a different game plan or strategy for the next opponent.
The 'coach' parent is another type, which if combined with another negative parent type can be a real problem.
6. The critical parent
Alongside the negative parent type, this one can be one of the worst to deal with. They like little and if they do like something you can bet there is something about it they don't like.
Here are a few of the other traits of the critical parent:
The critical parent may be critical of other players, other parents, officials and coaches. This is never good and can cause tremendous friction between them.
The critical parent will be critical to their own child, and this can affect their child's performance. They feel a tremendous amount of pressure to live up to their parent's expectations.
The critical parent criticizes anything that is being done, even if there is something positive in it. This can be extremely detrimental to a child that needs to build on the positive strides it is making.
The critical parent, combined with the outspoken parent, can be a disaster. Try putting a lid on a parent who wants to be very vocal about their criticism. The critical parent is where we draw the danger line. Once you get into the area where the behavior itself is destructive, it's hard to deal with. Controlling the critical parent may be a considerable challenge and one that can't be overlooked, simply because of what they can end up doing to the surrounding people.
7. The negative parent
You have probably met negative people in your life and you can understand they are hard to deal with. Imagine them as parents of the children on your team. Nothing is done right, you can't coach right, the other parents don't know how to handle their children, the other children don't play like yours, etc.
Other traits of the negative parent:
They will find the bad part in everything. No matter how good something is, they will turn it into something bad.
Even if a child or parent does something good, they will bring it down.
The negative parent puts people down, finds flaws in almost anything, and will argue just for the sake of arguing. They don't like agreeing with anything someone says and this can affect coaches, other parents, and players.
The negative parent will tell you all the things that are wrong with your team and the players that are on it.
The negative parent always makes things more difficult on themselves, just because it is more important to be negative about things than positive.
8. The uncooperative parent
The uncooperative parent just simply isn't a team player. They don't like doing anything for anyone but themselves.
Here are a few of the traits of the uncooperative parent:
The uncooperative parent will try to make things more difficult, when they can be easy.
The uncooperative parent will take a seemingly insignificant problem and make it worse because of their unwillingness to cooperate with others.
The uncooperative parent can put a stop to plans or ideas because they find a way to not do their part.
The uncooperative parent doesn't work well with other people. They cannot be a part of associations, committees, and other group activities related to the team because they can make them more difficult by being the roadblock in the way of progress.
9. The "My child is a superstar" parent
This one can be a gigantic problem waiting to happen. The "my child is a superstar" parent who truly believes his child is a superstar can be one of the biggest boosters to your program. They will do whatever they can to make the coach's training as good as possible, so their son or daughter can play on the best team.
Here are a few more traits from the parent who believes that their child is a superstar:
They will press the coaching staff to make sure that their child is set ahead of everyone else on the team.
They may bicker with other parents or the coaching staff about the efficient training their child is getting.
The 'my child is a superstar' parent might put down other kids or the coaches when they see their child isn't playing as much as the parent thinks they should.
This parent may push their child extremely hard, sometimes to the detriment of the child, in order to get them to reach what the parent thinks is the child's potential.
10. The role model Parent
This is more of an altruistic look at what qualities a good tennis parent embraces.
This is a look at the role model parent:
The role model parent supports their child in and out of the tennis arena. This involves encouragement, respect, and enthusiasm for the effort their child puts in.
The role model parent shows their son or daughter respect when they are playing the game and whether they win or lose.
The role model parent provides their children for all the practices and games with the proper equipment, and they do all of this on time.
The role model parent helps other kids in need, those who need rides to and from practice, those who can't buy pizza after an away tournament, those who need the encouragement from someone on the sidelines because their parent isn't there.
The role model parent is someone who is involved with tennis and does what they can to make a coaches' life easier. They plan tournament accommodations, they arrange for transportation, and they get involved.
The model parent shows up at all (or as many as they can) games and makes their child's sporting endeavors a priority in their lives.
The model parent stands behind decisions the coach makes regarding their child (as long as the decision is fair and just), if there is a disciplinary issue.
The model parent does not try to 'coach' against what the real coach wants. They may not agree with the coaching philosophy, but they allow their child to learn and play within that system without interference.
The coaches know these parents. They are probably the ones they talk to regularly, the ones who are always offering to help, and the ones with the kids who are happy playing the sport you are coaching.
What's your opinion on these different types of tennis parents? Did you recognize your own type of tennis parent? When type 1-9 is your type of tennis parent, try to change this to type no. 10 The Role Model Parent!
Good luck and remember to be an inspiration and example for your child.