Tennis Teaches Kids Life Lessons

It happened by accident. We were already playing multiple team sports and really did not have a lot of time to commit to another thing. But when my daughter’s very best preschool friend started playing tennis, she was immediately interested.

Tennis was a way for them to stay connected once preschool ended. At that time, I didn’t realize that we’d still be playing 3 years later or that she’d learn valuable life skills along the way from this new sport.

My daughter has learned so many important skills from playing tennis, but perhaps one of the best things about tennis is that it is a silent sport. It is unsportsmanlike to banter, question calls, or yell from the stands. There are not even coaches during the games to guide the players or referees there to make calls. This means the children playing in the match are responsible for making the in and out calls. I will admit this is very hard at times especially when the kids are young and just learning how to play, but it has also been so great. Many of the life skills she has acquired have stemmed from the fact that tennis is still mostly considered a gentleman’s sport.

There are many important life lessons my daughter has learned from this unique sport, but I am going to focus on the two that I find the most important in the development of her character.

Honesty and Respect

I lumped these two together as I believe they are similar. My daughter wants her opponent to be truthful and make fair calls. In return, they deserve the same respect from her.

Self Advocacy

The second life lesson is self advocacy, and speaking up when something is not right. There are no umpires or referees to make tennis calls, and parents and coaches cannot yell from the stands. If the other player makes an incorrect call, it is my daughter’s responsibility to speak up. The coaches taught the words she needed if she questioned a call, but the responsibility to follow through if she disagrees with an opponent’s call falls solely on her. In the early matches, she’s lost a point or two because of her lack of confidence to speak up in tough situations. I often say I wish I had these tools and skills for communication in conflict when I was her age. Heck, I could use a refresher on these skills as an adult.

I’ve had to bite my tongue more times than I can count, and I’ve watched my child struggle to speak up or scuffle to communicate her concerns to another player, but it’s great practice for her and a great conversation starter at home, and it’s amazing how much she’s improved in this skill over time.

Tennis is a complex sport to learn. It took some time for my daughter to learn the scoring systems and the correct terms to use when playing. I am still learning the difference between the Ad and Deuce sides and how to properly score. Unlike other sports that use adding of points, goals, or runs, tennis is a beast all of its own. Terms like “love” and “deuce” are used to add scores. I hardly know what the actual score is, but it does not really matter because only the players playing must know and agree.

I’m so proud of how quickly she was able to understand the game. I especially like how it forces her to use her brain to keep track of the score on her own as she plays.

Although we appreciated the life lessons that are taught in team sports, tennis provides a unique opportunity for her to learn how to accept responsibility for her actions. Individual sports can be extremely frustrating as there is no team behind you to pick you up or to lean on when you are down. The wins and losses fall on you. This was an adjustment for her, but she has learned how to motivate and compete with herself. Another skill that I did not learn until much later in my life!

My husband and I have noticed a huge improvement in our daughter’s self-confidence since she started playing tennis. At first, she was nervous and unsure. The more she has played and the more success she has had, (along with the help of some really great coaches) she has grown up and matured.

Regardless of where this tennis career takes her in life, I am thankful that she loves a sport that can carry her from childhood to high school and into her adult life, and I’m thankful for the life lessons that it has and will continue to teach her along the way.

Hi all, I’m Britni! I’m a wife to the king of dad jokes and a mom to three daughters ages 10, 7 and 3. We live in northwest Olathe (basically Lenexa) where I am a part-time high school business/computer teacher and a part-time adjunct instructor at a local college. When I’m not teaching the youth of America, I can be found helping my husband run the two KC area shave ice stands we own (@jarvys_shaveice) and organizing our event business. In my free time, I enjoy running outside when it’s not above 85 or below 40 degrees, watching my husband grill out so I don’t have to cook, and being perpetually sarcastic. I love nights out with the hubs, traveling with my family, red wine, coffee, ice cream and flare pens. Follow my crazy on IG @britni_jarvis or on all other forms of social media @britnijarvis.