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Enjoyment: Fresh clues for coaches

Photographer: Paul Zimmer


The above quote from the legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley was recently reported when Cawley conducted a training camp for indigenous Australian junior players and was asked what advice she had for aspiring players. Quite simply, her advice was ‘have fun and enjoy your tennis’. Well, we all know what fun and enjoyment are, right? Interestingly, the answer is likely to vary quite considerably across players. Fun and enjoyment are likely to mean different things to different individuals. This is really no great surprise given the various definitions of ‘fun’ and ‘enjoyment’ to be found in the sport literature. What is however agreed is that the two words are generally considered to be synonymous and, as such, have been used interchangeably in the sport literature (Berger et al. 2006). Given the critical significance of fun and enjoyment for understanding why so many of us play tennis, this paper addresses these key concepts and presents a new perspective on viewing enjoyment. This should be of particular interest to coaches who are frequently searching for clues to make lessons enjoyable. Let’s first look at defining fun and enjoyment.

Sources of Enjoyment Research has identified a range of sources of enjoyment for participants in sport, including juniors, adults and elite performers (Scanlan, Simons 1992; Scanlan et al. 1989). Notwithstanding individual differences, the main sources of enjoyment for participants include competitive achievement, developing good family/coach relationships, the excitement of the game, personal accomplishment, the kinaesthetic movement/feeling of playing, social recognition from significant others, forming friendships, having the opportunity to travel and gaining feelings of competency.

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