Tennis exercises and equipment for children

Tennis exercises and equipment for children

Motivation and fun are the keys to get the little ones started

Tennis is a very fun sport, but it can be a bit frustrating for children that begin to practice it without any prior knowledge- it is because the size of the ball makes it hard to return it with the racket, especially if you do not have much handle of it. You need to come up with a solution to motivate the little ones on the tennis court. What to do so that the kids can enjoy playing tennis while acquiring the necessary skills to practice this sport?

Coordination, speed, balance, strength and dexterity when moving the racket. These are the main skills that the children need to develop to play tennis correctly. They can be acquired with some of the games that we propose below.

Tennis exercises for children with beginner level:

1. The Give me 5 game

At very young ages, children have not yet developed psycho motor coordination. For example, for the kids under the age of 5, it would do them much good to play “Give me five”.

This exercise is good for developing the coordination of the children at the time of handling the racket. The trainer should place them in a row on the opposite side of the net. He must walk on the other side and raise his hand saying ‘give me five’.  The child who is in front of him at that time should raise the racket and touch the hand of the coach with it. Once the children have become accustomed to the weight of the racket are able to handle it more or less well, the coach, could throw tennis balls at them so they can return them.

2. The circle

Another game for the beginners to get familiarized with this sport, is to be placed in a circle. The coach will be at the center and is responsible for throwing the ball to each of the children. The ball will have to bounce once and it will be then when the child will hit it in response. This exercise is a perfect complement to the previous one to familiarize the child with the tools that will be used to play tennis: the tennis racket and the ball.

Tennis exercises for children with intermediate level:

We go up a level and we arrive at an intermediate level. Here, children already control the racket and also the ball, although they must learn to direct the ball in all of the strokes and to execute every one of them. For example, they will have to control the basic strokes a little bit like the forehand, the backhand or the serve.

1. The triangle

One of the best exercises for the players of intermediate tennis level is the triangle game. It consists in forming a triangle that covers various parts of the court. Each player will have a position and must strike the ball with the more appropriate stroke for each spot. For example, a child who is placed in the back of the court, you must serve or throw the ball. Every once in a while, the little ones will have to rotate positions to refine the stroke at each one of them.

2. Agility game

That exercise can be combined with an agility one. The coach will have to throw on the court almost the same number of balls as there are children training. The children must go in search of each ball and bounce it with the racket. They will have to be fast to not end up without ball. Children who are left without it will be disqualified.

Exercises with children with advanced level

Finally, if the little ones have been practicing tennis for many years, they probably have already reached an advanced level in this sport. In advanced stages, total control of the strokes, take precedence but, above all, the speed that the player reaches on the court.

1. Speed drills

Therefore, we will practice some speed drills. A very fun one consists of placing some strings in a ladder mode on the ground and the child has to go through all of the holes quickly without stepping on the rope. At the end of it, he/she must throw a ball and to try to hit some plastic bottles that the coach would have previously placed at the other end of the court.

As in all sports, tennis is a matter of practice. In the advanced levels, the competitive spirit of the children should also be encouraged. Prepare mini-matches and reward the winners.

To do these exercises we need an specific material that changes according to the player´s age. The less known materials are the most used among the little ones, so now we are going to explain everything related to rackets, balls and courts that the children players use.

Inside the mini-tennis – which is the term used to talk about children’s tennis – we can find 3 different age classifications. In each one of them the children should use different materials to help them improve and enhance all of their skills without risk of injury. The ranking is as follows:

  • Stage 3 for children between 5 and 7 years.
  • Stage 2 for children between 7 and 9 years.
  • Stage 1 for children between 9 and 12 years.

Normally these classifications include rackets, balls, nets and different court measurements for each age.

Let start talking about the balls, which logically are very different to those used in adult tennis. The balls that are used in mini-tennis have a smaller internal pressure, a smaller size and lightness, which translates into a much slower ball than the traditional ball. This slowness allows the children to have a lot more time to think, place and prepare their strokes than they would have with a traditional tennis ball.

The rackets also vary considerably in mini-tennis. These tend to be made from ultra lightweight materials such as aluminum or graphite, which enable the children to handle them more comfortably. They are also available in different inches that increase according to the age of the child.

For children of Stage 3 the dimension of the racket is usually about 43 to 53 cm, in Stage 2 about 53 to 58 cmand in Stage 1 of approximately 63cm.  Although the rackets are smaller than those used in adult tennis, the handle is still wide enough to allow children to do the grip with 2 hands and do the shots with greater force.

Finally, the court and the nets are also suited to the age of the players. The measurements of the court are changed through removable lines that are placed on the court and that allow you to split a court of normal size in several mini-tennis courts. To complete these small courts mini-nets are used that are tailored to the court and that are secured with removable side posts.

All of these changes and adjustments in the materials allow the youngest players to enjoy tennis, learn faster and to maximize all their skills in each of their trainings.

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