6 Steps To Get Your Child Playing Tennis
- Ask Them To Try It!
Sounds obvious, I know but unless they try it, you’ll never know whether it’s for them or not. Find a local park or club and ask for a FOC taster session. The NGB (LTA, USTA etc) will have a data base of every facility available so go on their website to find the nearest one to you. You won’t need equipment. Any good coach will captivate your child and they will be hooked for life! Borrow 2 rackets and a ball from the coach and proceed to step 2.
- Play With Them
You don’t need to be a player yourself. If you’re hopeless, hand feeding is a great way helping them as it’s easy for both of you. Stand six to eight feet away from them and throw the ball gently underarm to land roughly half way between the two of you. If your child is regularly making good contact, you could ask them to move back a little and if they’re struggling, bring them closer to you. Use trial and error to work out what is the best distance and weight of feed. Offer plenty of encouragement and always praise effort.
You can play in your garden, driveway or anywhere that has a flat surface with a fairly even bounce. If you can get easy access to a court, that would be even better and as your child progresses, you could think about taking the sport up too. Playing a sport with your child is a fantastic way of spending high-quality time together.
- Introduce a Friend
Children love being with friends so arrange for a friend to attend a FOC taster. They too, will be hooked and your child will now have a hitting buddy. Tennis is not as attractive to some children as football, netball, hockey etc as it’s essentially an individual sport. Friends play a key part in retaining interest.
- Join A Club
Most clubs actively encourage junior players and offer a safe, welcoming environment. Go down after school in spring or summer and if the place is swarming with children, you’re in the right place! Enquire about the coaching programme, teams, social activities & whether there are any supervised sessions where your child can just roll up to play.
- Take Them To Watch Live Tennis
The four biggest events in the tennis calendar, the Grand Slams, are staged in London (Wimbledon), Paris (French Open), Melbourne (Australian Open) & New York (US Open). If you can get to one, I’d recommend ground tickets which give you access to the outside courts (non show courts) as they’re cheap, you still get to see world class players & you can usually catch the top players practising. The practice courts are the best place to get autographs or selfies. Most of the top players are willing to stop for a minute or two which sends children (and many adults) into a frenzied state of bliss.
Tickets are available online except for Wimbledon where you’ll need to queue for entry. If the Grand Slams are out of your reach, pro events are played all over the world so you shouldn’t have to travel too far to see awesome live tennis. Your child will have the time of their lives & will acquire a turbo-charged interest in everything tennis. If live tennis isn’t possible, tennis is shown globally on TV throughout the year & Youtube has literally millions of tennis videos.
- Buy A Racket
They will now be deserving of a new racket. Young children require shorter rackets 17″-25″ so be sure you get the right advice when choosing. You can pay anything from £10.00 to £200.00 +_and as with any purchase, you get what you pay for. Don’t spend too much, early on. You can always upgrade as they improve/get older.
The new racket should be the catalyst for more interest & it can now be used to practise at the club or at home, in the garden, on the path or against a wall.