Tennis is a great sport at any age, but it’s even better when you have your kid pick it up early because of all the great benefits. It’s a fun way to keep them active but also promotes early hand-eye coordination and introduces a social element. Tennis, like any sport for a young one, may be difficult to teach because of the attention it requires and skill. That’s why finding things like the right place and the right program matter a lot when introducing tennis to a youngin’.
So how do you get your child to start with tennis? You can take a few steps that yield the most successful results and leads to overall satisfaction, not just with the parents but the kid who is playing the sport.
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Do Some Research
The first step in getting your child to start playing tennis is to do your research. Nearly anyone can sign up to teach tennis these days, and while it may be OK in the beginning, ultimately having coaches who are experienced, understand how to work with little kids, and create engaging classes, is going to be your best bet in introducing your child to tennis. Picking up a new hobby can be boring and not a whole lot of fun if you aren’t immediately successful at it. That’s why the right program will up your chances of having your child stick with it!
You will want to make sure you do your research by:
- Checking out local clubs.
- Investigating their pros.
- Talking to other parents about their satisfaction.
Depending on where you live will depend on the number of local clubs near you. Most of the time, most cities or towns have local tennis clubs or athletic clubs that are accompanied by programs that will have your little one busy running around and having fun! If you are in warm weather climates, you may even find that your parks and recreation offer lessons at your public courts. You may want to research if those people have a background in tennis because sometimes they don’t, and it’s more of an activity class.
You can start your search by simply googling athletic clubs close to you or googling “tennis programs.” You don’t need to be specific with kids’ programs because most of the time, if there is an adult program, the club will also offer programs for kids during the day and after school.
Once you have found yourself a few different clubs to look at, or maybe one, in particular, you will want to research the pros who will be teaching your kids. Some of the certifications you may want to look out for is if they are USPTA certified. This just means that the governing U.S. body of tennis has passed them as a qualified tennis teacher for both adults and kids. Beyond certifications, there are a few other things you can look out for.
Years of experience is a great way to understand whether they are familiar with working with kids. You may want even call up the pros office and ask who handles the kid’s programs, and they can tell you about their experience themselves. Often certain pros within a tennis academy or club will have designated people that work with the little ones.
Talk To Parents
Another great option to really know what goes on in the club is to talk to the parents of the kids who are already attending the class. This will give you first-hand insight into the programs, how they are run, and if the kids are enjoying their experiences. It’s also just a great way to get to know other parents with who your child may become friends within their classes to begin with.
This may be a good step if you have narrowed down your search to one or a few clubs. This can be unnecessary if you aren’t really interested in a particular club.
A great way to find these parents are by looking up different clubs. You can search many different types of things like parents of a tennis group, the actual group of the club you are looking at, and many more. These groups can either introduce you to the parents to have private conversations, or they can just give you some general information for you to see about the club or community.
Sometimes a club will offer a try-out or a free pass to try their club’s program at least once. Sometimes this may be free or just for a small fee. This is a great way for your kid to see if they like the class and if you like the class for your kid. It’s not really like a try-out since it is an introduction to tennis but more of just a way to try the class.
This can also allow you to talk to the parents who will also be there watching their young kiddos.
Introduce The Sport Yourself
A great way to see if your kid has any interest is by introducing them to the sport yourself. It’s OK if you don’t have any tennis background because normally, at a young age, all you will do is hand feed and let them whack the ball around. Don’t be discouraged if you feel like they don’t like tennis because sometimes it can be boring one on one. The exciting part is attending the classes.
Having said that, if your child seems to really take to tennis right when you introduce them, that is usually a great indicator that they will like playing tennis.
Know Their Age
If you are introducing a five-year-old to the sport, it will look very different from if you are going to introduce a 10-year-old. The reason being is that even though they are both are starting out as beginners, they are going to have different skills when it comes to controlling their body, to begin with.
The hand-eye coordination of a 10-year-old will be significantly better than a five-year-old, and on top of that, they will have a better chance of listening. They may be more patient to really learn how to hit the ball. Younger kids tend to just want to play games.
Here’s What You Can Do
For the youngest players in your household, such as the four-to-six-year-olds, you will want to focus on hand-eye drills and having fun. Since you are introducing them to the sport yourself, you can simply let them run around and wack the ball. They may not be able to make contact much because of their developing skills, so what you can do is almost play street hockey with them and the racket. This introduces contact for the youngest ones that can’t hit a ball fed from the hand.
For the slightly older kids, possibly between the ages of seven and 10, you can introduce some basic concepts. You can do a lot of hand-feeding with the ball and work on your kid making contact. You may want to start them close to the net because this will allow them to feel like they can successfully put it on the other side of the court.
If they are really athletic, they may be able to rally with you off the bat. This can be done in a mini-style of tennis where you both stand on the service line or you can wack balls from the back. Having said that, it is unlikely that when introducing your kid to tennis that they can hit balls from the baseline.
Don’t worry about technique, grips, or anything else to start. Let them have fun and then correct once contact has been made several times.
Monitor Your Kids Love For The Game
When you are introducing your child to tennis, the most important thing is to keep in check how much they like or maybe even not like tennis. If you have a kid who is eager to play and loves it will help you determine an appropriate schedule. However, sometimes even when a child loves it, it’s easy to overdo the number of classes and lead to burnout quickly. When monitoring your child’s enjoyment by both asking how it is going and occasionally watching the classes to see if they are having fun, you can determine an appropriate schedule.
Set Up A Schedule
The more your kid loves tennis, the more classes you can sign them up for. However, signing them up for the sport every single day, even if they are overly enthusiastic, can lead to a quick burnout due to frustration. The expectation may start to feel like too much or become boring to your kid if they are repeating the same things over and over again.
For the youngest of the kids, it’s best to try and limit the class to maybe two or three times at most. This will allow them to develop while also giving them a break to appreciate the sport itself.
Keep in Other Sports Age-Dependent
What directly will impact your schedule is looking at your kid’s age and keeping other sports introduced. Whether you want to keep tennis a seasonal thing or a year-round sport, you still want to keep other sports introduced to your kid for a few different reasons. This is especially true when they are on the younger side.
The first is what we have been saying all along. It protects your kid from being bored with tennis and burning out much too fast. Because tennis is a very technical sport, those skills can be quickly frustrating for anyone to learn, let alone a kid. This is why introducing different things can keep it all fun and leave out the pressure of having to improve consistently.
The other definite reason is that other sports actually allow kids to develop in their retrospective sports faster. This allows them to pick up other skills like footwork and hand-eye coordination. This could be things like soccer or basketball. It also helps strengthen other muscles that may not be used during tennis but used in other activities like swimming.
Introducing your kid to tennis is an exciting time, but making sure you do it right can be important in whether your kid decided to stick to it or not. There is a fair amount of research that a parent can do before even bringing up tennis to their kid. Through multiple ways, whether it is calling up the local clubs, speaking to parents in Facebook groups, or allowing their child to try out a program, parents can get a better sense of what their kid will be doing during that time.
It’s important that tennis is introduced in a fun way at any age (especially the younger ones). Because tennis is so technical, it can lead to a lot of frustration and can be difficult for a kid to pick up. THat’s why you don’t need to worry about the technical stuff as much because things, like hand-eye moving around and developing athletic skills, are the most important part.
So wherever your kid goes, make sure that they are choosing a program that really emphasizes those things. Otherwise, you will likely find your kid becoming bored and disruptive. Tennis is a wonderful sport to introduce to a kid even at the early ages of four!