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Tennis parent education programme aims to help develop Britain’s next Wimbledon star

With the Wimbledon final just days away, the spotlight is once again on tennis and how Britain can produce future champions like grand slam winner Andy Murray.

However the pressure faced by parents trying to support rising tennis stars can be difficult to manage.

Murray’s mother, Judy, has spoken publically about how during her time as a parent on the British junior tennis scene she witnessed parents verbally and physically abusing their children and how it is not uncommon to see destructive and dysfunctional behaviour.

To try and support the families of young tennis players and tackle the growing problem of pushy and overinvolved parents, academics at Loughborough University are developing a new education programme.

The new course will focus on the needs of tennis parents with children aged from five to 10 years and is aimed at improving their knowledge, competence and skills in managing and enjoying the tennis journey with their child. It is being developed by Loughborough academics Dr Chris Harwood, Dr Chris Spray and Sam Thrower from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences.

Sam, who is conducting the research as part of his PhD, explains: “Giving parents the knowledge and skills they need to be able to positively influence their child's enjoyment, long-term participation and development within tennis is essential if we want to create the next Wimbledon champion.

“Despite research highlighting the complex and challenging nature of parenting within the British tennis system, parents still receive little or no education about how to help their child’s development in increasingly professionalised youth sport environments.”

The education programme includes eight face-to-face workshops which provide parents with all the information needed to support their child’s journey, navigate the Lawn Tennis Association's organisational system, make informed decisions about their child's talent development pathway and fulfil their roles before, during and after competitions.

The research team are also exploring the most effective way to deliver these workshops and are currently evaluating the effectiveness of an online educational resource. The online resource has been designed to be used on laptops, tablets and smart phones and represents a free, modern, flexible and convenient approach to tennis parent education. 

To find out more about the project please contact s.thrower@lboro.ac.uk. You can also follow the programme on twitter @LTPEP.