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U.S. Kids' Tennis Success Often Fostered by Parents

But one-third of parents are over-critical or too focused on winning, coaches report

TUESDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Among families of junior tennis players, 59 percent of parents help their kids succeed at junior tennis, but more than one-third hinder their children by being overly critical or expecting too much, according to a study published online May 15 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Daniel R. Gould, Ph.D., of Michigan State University in East Lansing, and colleagues conducted a national survey of 132 U.S. junior tennis coaches to ascertain the role and influence that parents played on their children's success in the sport.

The researchers found that parents played key roles in their children's ability to succeed at junior tennis. While 59 percent of parents were viewed by coaches as a good influence on their children's junior tennis development, 36 percent were considered a negative influence.

Logistical, financial and emotional support from parents were seen as a plus; too much focus on winning, too much criticism and overly high expectations were seen as a minus.

"Sport parents receive little or no training about how to help their child to develop and are exposed to a youth sports environment that is increasingly professional," the authors write. "This [study] highlights the need for sports science and sports medicine professionals to begin to educate tennis parents."

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