If you have ever been in a workshop with me then you will maybe have a clue where this one is going! I have a problem, yes I confess! And it is with FUN!
Today I opened my emails to another notification saying we need to make tennis fun. We have all been bombarded by this message and many others like, The No. 1 Reason kids give up tennis is lack of Fun! Come to Tennis it’s FUN! And so many more messages just like this but the problem is that no one defines fun.
You see I don’t have a problem with the word FUN just the lack of definition, the lack of explanation and the lack of depth that these statements show! FUN is not something on it’s own. If I ask you to think of three things in your head that you think are fun most of us could quickly list three of our favourite activities. But then if I asked you why they were fun you could give some very different answers. Challenge, competence (ask your friends most adults pick things that they are good at when asked this question), physically active, social, there are many more but to each of us it’s the why more than that the what that makes it fun!
A very good pro who works in Connecticut was asked by her manager why she was so popular with the ladies groups she taught. Her response was simple! “I get them. I understand which ones want to sweat and which ones absolutely don’t!” Even within one group she could modify her communication to push some and laugh with others, Fun is different things to different people but with kids we so often assume that fun means hit and giggle, entertainment, silly games and clowning around by the coach.
Another coach who was employed at a club I worked out was quite tough on the kids in one group and one parent approached me and complained that he pushed her child too hard. “Let’s talk to your child!” was my response. The child’s response was something very different even at 7 years old. “He pushes me to play my best but he really cares about all of us, he is so cool!” After I asked the coach and he knew more about each one of the children than any other pro on staff.
For all of us fun can be very different things, for some kids tennis is about being competent, some being accepted, some meeting other kids, some being active, some being with existing friends, some competing, some winning. To each and every child fun is something different but saying make tennis fun is like saying make kids healthy by giving them food! It needs more thought and closer examination by us all. When we find that motivator, that button that we need to push for that child of course they will think it’s fun but before you tell someone tennis is fun ask yourself is it your definition of fun or their’s?