Tennis is one of the most fun as well as popular sports across the world. In fact, as surprising as it may sound, it’s been like that for several decades! The style and class of players like John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Maria Sharapova, Serene Williams, Venus Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and others have influenced people to enjoy, compete and exhibit their skills in this Gentlemen’s sport.
A lot of parents are eager to send their kids for tennis lessons here in Singapore. But there is one question which worries many people. What is the right age for a child to start learning to play tennis? Is there even a ‘right’ age?
What is a good age to start tennis?
Some experts say that kids who are 5-6 years old can start training under a good coach. However, there really is no perfect age to start a sport. The golden advice offered by many is to start when you feel interested. This being said, the ability to be attentive and in proper control of your muscle movements (motor coordination) is important for learning to play tennis.
“Federer started when he was eight… don’t feel discouraged”
In some children, advanced motor coordination capabilities are seen at the early age of 3 or 4 itself. For a bit of perspective, let’s take a look at two of today’s greatest tennis players. Rafael Nadal started playing when he was four, while Roger Federer started when he was eight. Although an early start offers a number of positives, those who begin a bit late do not have to feel discouraged. With the right amount of effort, you can surely make your way up!
Why it’s an awesome idea to start early
There is undeniably an edge to those who start early. It is like beginning a race a few seconds earlier than your counterparts. The child gets an in-depth acquaintance with the sport which can lead to a deep bond and love for tennis. It also can lead to the child benefiting from a significant amount of experience.
Benefits of tennis for kids
Tennis is one of the best sports for children. Are you aware of the various benefits that can arise out of playing this sport? For children, getting into tennis at an early age can help them both physically as well as mentally.
Tennis helps keep children in good physical health. The benefits include healthy muscle growth as well as an increase in agility and stamina. Hand-eye coordination will also definitely be improved after playing tennis. Needing your child to sit still for a longer period of time? The sport also increases the attentive capabilities of children. How important is it to be alert in tennis? Playing tennis leads to a higher degree of alertness and quick reflexes.
Fun and a great bonding opportunity for you and your kids
It goes without saying that every kid who picks up a racquet and gets on to the tennis court one day will surely feel the urge to come back again. Tennis is a fun sport and what other better way can one relax while having fun? For parents, it can be a tool which keeps their children engaged. Parents can also play with their children in their free time. A tennis court is a great place for kids to make new friends, play, enjoy and feel happy. Playing tennis helps keep children in cheerful spirits. At the end of the day, such an activity can also lead to a better degree of self-confidence among children.
Take it step-by-step
With young kids, the trick is to keep them engaged and make sure that they have fun during the practice sessions. They should feel excited about coming back to court the next day or week. Training routines must be customised for kids in this manner. Short and less complicated exercises with an adequate amount of break time are the way to go.
Parents need to keep in mind that their kids are not going to turn into tennis maestros overnight. It takes time and should never be rushed. Let your kids be introduced to the game. Let them immerse themselves and have fun. The results will surely follow! That being said, parents can do their part as well. Tell your child that she is doing good. Motivate her when she feels down. Parents can also share a workout routine with their kids. There are also some easy tennis practice techniques which you can try out with your kid in your own backyard.
Here are a few activities that you can use to guide your child in tennis progressively:
Three years old+
In this activity, use one side of the court. Gently toss the balls(sponge balls/junior/coloured balls) towards them and have them catch(‘trap’) it and throw it back to you. When they are throwing, remind them to throw from bottom to top. Objective is to be able to mimic the movement of the arm during a forehand swing.
Four years old+
Four year olds are in the in-between stage. They start to gain awareness of time. Try a tennis version of floor ball for this group. Get them to count the number of times they return the ball during a rally. First, teach them the forehand grip, and get them in pairs or in groups with a good spacing. This is a progression from the ‘Trap-n-Throw’. Only this round, you’ll be able to see a clearer formation of the full over-the-shoulder swing. Objective is to gently guide them to a proper motion of the swing, when you sense readiness. Keep in mind, this should just be a gentle nudge, not a drill.
Five years old+
At this stage they are inclined to follow rules, so include activities such as PACMAN on court, or even, add a progression to the previous activities. Or a combination of both. Taking the rules of poison ball and including the movements of the classic game PACMAN. To play, get them running/walking only along the white lines on *one side of the court, and after gently toss the balls towards them. Objective is to dodge the balls while keeping within the play space. It will get tricky, especially to those who have not played either of those games before. So be sure to remind them to just have fun ultimately. Have a swap of roles so you can also lead by example.
If your dream of becoming the next Pete Sampras didn’t turn out as per your plan, you could help your kid become the next Novak Djokovic or Ashleigh Barty NOW! 🙂
By the way, if you are looking for a place to guide you on your journey to becoming a classy tennis player, get in touch with us 🙂
Be rest assured of getting the best guidance. Even if you do not start early, never pass on a chance to play the sport!