Educating and supporting tennis parents: grounded theory of parents’ needs during childhood and early adolescence

The purpose of this study was to identify British tennis parents’ education and support needs across contexts and developmental stages. Data were collected in two high performance tennis centers and consisted of six months of fieldwork and interviews with parents, coaches, and ex-youth players [n=29]. Using a grounded theory methodology (Corbin & Strauss, 2008), data were analysed through a process of open coding, axial coding, and theoretical integration. The resulting grounded theory highlights the need to provide tennis parents with education that covers their introductory needs, organizational needs, development needs, and competition needs during childhood/mini tennis (5-10 years) and early adolescence/junior tennis (11-14 years). The theory is based on the notion that these needs can only be fulfilled if tennis parents are provided with formal education, and that the effectiveness of this education will be determined by parents’ motivation to learn and the on-going support they receive from key stakeholders (e.g., coaches). The content, structure, and timing of parent education and support in high performance tennis centers are discussed.