Getting kids 8 years and under into the swing of tennis
The early introduction of kids to both organised and unorganised physical activity is a major step to kick-starting a lifetime of healthy choices. There are loads of sports and hobbies available, and tennis is a great sport for kids of any age.
Tennis has many benefits:
- It’s a lifelong game
- It’s a family sport – kids can play with their parents,siblings (and even their grand parents!)
- It’s a sport that builds self-confidence and discipline
- It’s sport that teaches about fair play and good sportsmanship
- It’s non-contact, which lowers the chance of picking up injuries
- It’s excellent for speed, agility and hand-eye coordination
- It’s loads of fun!
What is the best age to begin playing tennis?
This question is best answered by both you and your child. There will be children as young as three years old who clearly demonstrate a liking and passion for the game. They may be picking up a racquet at school or home, watching tennis on the television or starting with backyard / beach tennis sets, indicating they are quite ready to start their tennis journey. Most often these kids are more focused than many of the kids who are older. On the flip side, there will be twelve-year olds who show up for a lesson, wishing that they were anywhere else except a tennis court.
If your child is under six, you are going to have to gauge his/her level of focus. If they are having a tough time staying focused and taking direction, or if your child finds more joy in throwing balls than hitting them, then perhaps you would be better off introducing them to the sport at a later date.
For children who are six and older, it is best just to ask them directly if they would like to try tennis lessons. Perhaps, your child saw an Australian Open match on TV, or she has watched mum and dad play, heard about it through a friend or even tried it at school and would like to give it a try. If they say, “yes,” then you have your answer. If they waver and don’t demonstrate much interest, you would be better off waiting rather than forcing it.
How can I facilitate my child’s involvement in tennis?
Active and persistent engagement in tennis often requires parents to take on a more active role than just taking their child to lessons or classes. If you want to help grow your child’s initial interest in playing tennis, we recommend the following for new tennis parents:
- Encourage your child to play, but don’t pressure them.
- Try and set some limits. Don’t make everything in your child’s life about tennis. This will help avoid burnout later on.
- Make sure your child’s coach is qualified.
- Help your child set challenging but realistic goals. Don’t focus solely on “winning the game”.
- Help your child understand the valuable lessons tennis can teach.
- Let your child’s coach run the practice. Avoid coaching from the sidelines.
- Don’t forget to ask your child if they are enjoying themselves.