The thirty minute rule. You have thirty minutes after a tennis match of pure silence. That is the agreed upon rule in our house. For thirty minutes we are not allowed to say anything about the match that was just played. This rule holds true regardless if you won or lost.
How often have you seen someone leaving the court after a grueling match only to met by the well-meaning parent, coach or friend offering a well intended analysis of the match? Unfortunately I have also seen young juniors come off the court only to be met by a parent yelling and berating them about their mistakes or effort. Why? What good is it going to do at this point in time? I know you are thinking to yourself, how will they know what to do differently next time if you don’t tell them what they did right and wrong in the match they just played. If you ask the player they will probably tell you they really don’t hear anything you are saying anyway, so why say it?
At the end of a match the player is tired both physically and mentally, to say nothing about the emotions they are experiencing either high or low. So this is not the best time to try to give “constructive criticism” about the match. Give the player some time to calm down and relax. They can either take a few minutes to bask in the glory of their success or take a few minutes to feel bad about their loss. The key here is that it is their game and the feelings are their’s to own. I know we all want to join in on the celebration of the win but remember it is their win not yours, just as the loss is their’s to own. The ownership of the emotions will help lead the player to the ownership of their game. Owning their game will be the piece of the puzzle that will lead the player to think on the court, adjust their game and their attitude, and win or lose with no excuses.
So what happens after thirty minutes? After thirty minutes all celebrating or morning must stop. Not saying you can’t still be happy or sad, you just need to move on. (I will talk more about limiting the celebration and morning of a match in a future article.) At this point the player should be able to provide you with a reasonable analysis of their match and you can add your “constructive criticism at this point. If you are the parent and their is a coach available, I always suggest you leave the coaching to the coach. Sometimes it is best to just be a supportive parent.