What Venus Williams’ Coach Wants All Parents To Know
Eric Hechtman knows a thing or two about youth sports parents. As an elite-level youth tennis player, he was one of the most sought-after recruits in the country and eventually signed with The University of Miami, where he captained the Hurricanes for 3 years and still holds the record for most all-time wins. These days Hechtman pours his passion for tennis into helping others as the director of the Royal Palm Tennis Club. He currently coaches Venus Williams but has also worked with Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Serena Williams. Hechtman spends most of his time working with rising tennis stars and has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly side of youth sports parents.
Here are Eric Hechtman’s 3 take-aways for all parents:
- Kids are motivated by the culture of their house. If kids are being taught how to work at basic things like chores or studying, they know how to work hard on the tennis courts. Kids who haven’t been taught how to work hard through simple life skills like chores, do not want to train hard when they come to my practices because it’s work. Elite players enjoy the process (the work) because they’ve been taught the value.
- My best tennis parents are great overall parents. They make time for their kids, they’re reasonable, they instill the value of effort, a strong work ethic, and the importance of respecting others. The best tennis parents are also ones who take the time to become knowledgeable about the game and process. Finally, the best parents show love and positivity.
- Plant the seed to see it grow. Richard Williams is perceived as being this cut-throat, win-at-all-costs dad. That is the furthest thing from the truth. When he comes to Venus’ matches, he is nothing but positive and encouraging. What Richard did was instill a dream. He saw talent within the girls and told them they could be the greatest players of all time. He put dreams in their head, provided the resources, and allowed them to chase their dreams.
Jon Coles, PhD
Assistant Professor, Sport Management
Grand Valley State University
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