It seems like every time we turn around, our kids want to try a brand-new sport – a flavor of the week if you will. While we encourage them to stay active and find the sport that they fall in love with, at times it can become a little stressful trying to accommodate their latest sports venture. But, being the great parents that we are, we want our kids to try each sport to see if they can find their groove.
After fouling out with basketball, striking out with baseball and bogeying in golf, your kid wants to give tennis a whirl. You hold your breath as you nod your head “Yes” when they ask if they can get a tennis racquet and some balls and learn how to play.
While you may look calm on the outside, inside is a different story. “Tennis?! Where do I even start to teach them? I guess this means I have to sign little Johnny up for lessons. Is there even a tennis court nearby?”
If we just tapped into your brain, don’t panic! We’re here to calm you down—teaching your kid how to play tennis is just like any other sport. Here are three tips to get your kid started.
Think about it – when you introduce your child to a new sport, what’s the first thing you usually do? You’ll probably spend some time covering the basics of the sport. Let’s take baseball and soccer, for example. Odds are when your child expressed interest in the sport, you got the necessary equipment and made your way to your backyard to either kick the ball back and forth or play catch. The same goes for tennis. To help develop their hand-eye coordination, grab a junior-sized racquet and a bucket of balls. In order to teach your kid the correct grip, have them place the racquet, head away from their body, in front of them. Ask little Johnny to pick the racquet up off the ground. As a side note, the way he picks up the racquet is actually the continental grip! A continental grip is one of the only grips that all tennis players have in common when it comes to serving and volleying. When using this grip, encourage them to hold the racquet like they would a hammer. Because they’re so young, you’ll likely want to demonstrate before handing the racquet over. Once you have the grip down pat, when they swing, they should follow through across their body and touch the ear on the other side of their head. In time, they’ll start to nail down the mechanics and their hand-eye coordination will begin to improve. During these exercises, you’ll want to hold off on giving too much instruction and don’t play too long—no more than 15 or 20 minutes—or you’ll risk taking the fun out of the sport. Giving them too many tips at a time will likely confuse or even frustrate your little one. The best way to keep your kid interested in the sport is to make it a fun, family experience.
Sign ‘em up!
It might sound like a big step—you just went from throwing a tennis ball at them to enrolling them into a tennis class—but hear us out. If you’re thinking about enrolling your kid in an organized tennis class, you’ll want to take into account both the class size and the instructor. These are important things to take into consideration because, as we all know too well, children’s attention spans can be very short, to say the least. That’s why the class size matters because if there are too many kids, your own child will likely lose focus on the lesson and pay more attention to what the group of kids on the other side of the court are doing. Additionally, an enthusiastic, patient, and certified instructor who will keep your kid engaged and develop their love for the sport is important as well.
Our kids look up to us, so it’s important for us to lead by example. Regardless of your skill level, you’ll want to get involved in your child’s tennis experience and make it as fun possible. Whether it’s driving them to and from tennis lessons and asking them about their time, or hitting a few balls with them with a smile on your face (even if you whiff), be sure to make their experience with tennis a positive one from start to finish.
If you want to help the young tennis player in your life learn the game and refine their skills, check out our GAMMA tennis equipment that includes racquets made specifically for kids, and lots of training materials, too!
What are some of your favorite tips that you’ve used to teach your child tennis? Let Team GAMMA know on our Facebook page!