Nov. 7, 2020

Coaching Your Own Child

Hear the ins and outs of coaching your own son or daughter at the highest level.

Coach: Mark Hildebrand, high performance (parent) coach
Bio: Began as Head Pro at the Green Tree Tennis Club in 1997, where both junior and adult programs won back to back city championships. In 2000, became Head Pro at Oak Hills Country Club and coached the Junior team to a silver medal in the AAU Junior Olympics in Detroit, Michigan. Moved to be Director of Tennis for the Northside Independent School District where he was in charge of providing tennis to 65 elementary schools, 19 middle schools, and 11 high schools. While at NISD, managed an elite program that produced two Texas 5A state champions and numerous players to play for top universities. Involved in over 10 USTA High-Performance training camps. USPTA 1 certified professional.

Birthplace: USA
Residency: USA

Length: 3 min 30 sec
Theme: Strategy


You know, like many of you might have, I was teaching tennis, I was a tennis professional, love tennis, couldn't get enough of tennis. I thought tennis was a gift that I could give.

My son, Trey. Trey really had a big interest in playing tennis. So, we went out on the court, like many of you, and we started playing a lot. And honestly, in a selfish way, I just enjoyed being on the court so much. So, it wasn't even just teaching my son, it was more me just being on the court more. And I think that Trey learned from my good energy, and I how passionate I was about tennis, watching tennis that I had so much fun doing it, he was having fun as well.

Coaching my son, I didn't really focus on too much teaching, because Trey was so good visually that he would just emulate what I did. It's a big way of how Trey learned how to play the game. And I remember hearing people say things like you don't want to coach your son, you don't want to coach your own child. Oh, it's a nightmare. And I remember laughing, thinking "God, that's crazy". That would never happen to Trey.

Many of us with our children, you know, you're inseparable. They're young, they look up to you. And I just remember, as the years went on, we were so passionate about tennis. And we loved it so much, that Trey got good really fast, and you get continued to climb. And what happens in that race is the stakes get higher, and the stakes get higher, to the point where they get so high, you lose sight of why you really started it.

With Trey, the stakes got really high, we were looking at State championships, and we're looking at National championships then international championships then Grand Slams. So the intensity on one, and it gets so high that you lose sight of the fun aspect a little bit. So that's an important piece. But on the other end, what the parent-child coach relationship does is when your child loses, you have a burning, burning desire to get them better. There's a sense of urgency that others don't have. And so that sense of urgency getting back on the court after a loss, working harder after a loss, getting back up after a loss. Those types of things exist for the parent-child coaching relationship.

What I would say is from that aspect, the better tennis players that I've seen have that there's a driver behind it that has just a burning fire. What I would say is in all honesty, Trey and I were very good until about the age of 15. And then it started to change, I would say that Trey started becoming his own individual. And I wouldn't say he bucked up because he always did what I asked him to do but (but) there was tension. And I certainly could have definitely handled myself better. But when it's your first time doing it, you just do your best. There's no manual. I think in the end, we did well, it was necessary. I think Trey having me got him to be the best player he could be. But from a father-and-son perspective, it got a little rough at times.

But I think we both appreciate the journey we went through. So I would say you know, things that you're going through are all normal. It's going to be very hard later on. And towards the end. What I did was I started hiring people and I would coach Trey vicariously through other people. And that was a little healthier way of us doing things. I would say there's no right way and no wrong way. In the end, you have to have somebody that truly cares about your wins and your losses and nobody cares more than a parent.