Nino Severino: Parents need support to help their kids achieve sporting dreams

Kathy Martin meets young players and parents at the Elena Baltacha Foundation. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Kathy Martin meets young players and parents at the Elena Baltacha Foundation. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

In his latest column, Nino Severino discusses how parents need support to help their children achieve their sporting dreams and potential.

Youngsters enjoy the session with Kathy Martin at the Elena Baltacha Foundation. Picture: PAVEL KRIC

Youngsters enjoy the session with Kathy Martin at the Elena Baltacha Foundation. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

Sport can be a very positive experience for many children but unfortunately it can also become a very negative experience, simply because some parents find it very difficult to support their kids.

I invested the last year in working with Gordon Mclelland, a specialist focusing on “Parents in Sport”.

Some sports have more of a reputation for unhelpful parents than others – and I’m sorry to say that tennis ranks high on this unhelpful list.

I’ve helped Gordon to produce a massive amount of resource for parents which is located in a member’s area on his website. This collaboration has already paid dividends, with England Rugby purchasing a very large number of the book “Sporting Do’s and Don’ts”. This book is quickly earning a great reputation, and we are talking to many governing bodies and teams, including top Premier League clubs.

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I’m very pleased to say that the parents who are linked to the Elena Baltacha Foundation have received lots of support and education, as have the players, and this has really helped the way the parents support them, which ultimately has enhanced their performances in training and competition.

All in the foundation team do all we can to ensure that our parents have many opportunities of self-development, to empower them to help their children.

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With this in mind, we collaborate whenever possible with our Foundation friends, who vary from world-class tennis players and coaches all the way to top professionals from our World Governing Body.

Last week delivered just such an opportunity, with a visit to Ipswich by Kathy Martin, who is the Senior Director of Athlete Assistance for the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association).

Kathy supports junior and senior tennis players all around the world, including the globe’s top 10, and her knowledge and experience is simply invaluable.

Kathy Martin and Nino Severino. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Kathy Martin and Nino Severino. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

During a meeting at Wimbledon eight months ago, we were discussing areas of player health, wellbeing and fitness, and she told me that during her visit to the 2018 Wimbledon Championships, she would be more than happy to visit the foundation in Ipswich.

And last week she flew in from Australia before I picked her up from Ipswich train station to take her to deliver to the many players and parents who were waiting for her.

Kathy is a mental health counsellor and sports physiotherapist with over 30 years’ experience in elite sports and expertise in the health and well-being needs of adolescent and young adult athletes.

She specialises in helping players learn useful skills including stress and time management, problem solving, balanced training, stress and recovery, communication skills, and good goal setting.

Those are the areas I was hoping Kathy would deliver to our players and parents, and I’m glad to say, nobody was disappointed. Kathy is a world-class operator, coach and presenter, and she has an amazing skill which ensures that players and parents alike are totally engaged in her presentation.

She is very sought-after after the world over, having previously worked with the Australian Ballet Company and School, the Victorian College of the Arts, the Australian national tennis team and the 2000 Australian Olympic Team.

With a CV like this, it’s clear to see why I was so keen for all to benefit from her visit.

Because of her background, I also wanted her to visit the University of Suffolk Hub, a centre of excellence which supports our local athletes, and many of our foundation players.

She met many of the very talented sports science team based at the Hub, on the Marina, including Adam Stiff, Sports Science Head Technician.

It was a very positive end to a perfect day of player and parent development!

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