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A father and daughter prepare to play a game of tennis

National roll-out for Loughborough University’s tennis parents’ support programme

Loughborough University research into parenting in sport has resulted in the nationwide roll-out of a youth tennis parent education and support initiative.

Parenting a talented young tennis player can be complex and challenging, and the pressures faced by families can be difficult to manage.

To understand these pressures Professor Chris Harwood and Dr Sam Thrower from the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences conducted investigations into the experiences and needs of tennis parents within Great Britain.

Their published findings have led to the development of resources and workshops that aim to help grass roots tennis parents and children gain a positive and confidence building experience from their participation in the sport.

Working with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and its Competitions department, the duo have helped to develop the LTA Parent Support Programme. This includes a three hour parent workshop on Optimal Competition Parenting, a Start Competing Parents Guide and a series of short educational videos.

Speaking about the programme, Professor Harwood said: “Parents are key stakeholders in youth tennis with an active investment in the game and in their child’s happiness, well-being and development. It is very important as academics and practitioners who understand the multiple demands and intrinsic benefits of tennis that we share our knowledge with parents and help them to thrive in support roles to their children. The health of our game and our young players is a priority.”

The interactive parent workshop forms the cornerstone of the programme and offers insights and exercises into the challenges and benefits of tennis, as well how to help their children before, during and after matches.

Sara Clarke, a tennis parent from Warwickshire who attended one of the courses, remarked how “it completely changed the way I approach my child’s tennis training and competing. I wish I had attended the workshop years ago. With the knowledge gained from the workshop I could see how I was potentially hindering my child’s progress. Now he is playing with more fluidity and enjoying his training much more.”

Professor Harwood and Dr Thrower have delivered multiple parent workshops across the country as part of the LTA Competitions department strategy, and have now trained a network of LTA Tutors to enable even more to be delivered.

The LTA's Head of Competition, Keith Carder, highlighted the importance of developing such a programme. He said: “Tennis parents play a vital role in supporting their children when they are competing in tournaments all across Great Britain. We want young tennis players and their parents in the game for the long term. This programme aims to help create the right environment for this to happen.

“We are now aiming to reach over 1,000 parents in 2018, and the feedback received so far from parents has been overwhelmingly positive. It has been great working with Loughborough on getting this programme out and engaging with the tennis community.”

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 18/74

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Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2018 QS World University Rankings, top in the country for its student experience in the 2018 THE Student Experience Survey and named University of the Year in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2018.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 6th in the Guardian University League Table 2018, 7th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2019. It was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.

 

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