Rackets and Runners Ambassador and Tennis Coach Alberto Sanchez has been playing tennis since he was a kid and has taught every age from 4-years old to teenagers. Here's how he makes lifelong tennis players.
Generally speaking, to be good at tennis takes 3 things: effort, consistency and time. But when we talk about tennis and kids, I would add a fourth element: FUN.
The early ages are the most important since it is when they will develop that love for being on a court, hitting the fluffy ball for life. I did, and that’s why I’ve been on the court for more than 25 years.
It's a 3-way working process between the child, the instructor/coach, and the parent, all working together to help the child learn the game at the right pace.
I've seen many parents rush the learning process, resulting in bad habits, lack of game understanding, and of course, injuries due to wrong swings forced by the wrong equipment.
Not much fun.
Best Training Methods
When teaching a child to swim, you wouldn't immediately drop them in the deep end and hope for the best. You would start in the very shallow end and start learning the basics. The same learning principle can be applied to tennis.
Tennis has evolved in terms of kids' learning stages. A couple of decades ago we started using what is called ‘progressive tennis.’ It adapts the equipment and court to the child, rather than starting them in an environment meant for an adult athlete. This helps create, in general terms, great mini tennis players.
If you’re a tennis player parent, get familiar with Red, Orange, Green and Yellow stages, which your child will move through as they are learning.
This learning system is so good, that we use it for adults as well. It’s quick and results in a high level of success. It's the most effective way to learn from zero.
These stages will relate to the stage the child is at, but it doesn’t describe their level. Your children could be great in their group, but that doesn't mean that they are ready to move up to the next color.
Here is a short description of the stages:
They are the little pros, playing on the smallest court, with a mini tennis net (low and shorter). The ball is bigger to make easy contact.
Bigger court, usually ¾ is the quick reference. Ball becomes smaller, the same size as the yellow ball. It bounces 50% less than yellow ball. The net gets taller.
The ball looks like the yellow ball, but it has a big green dot, and bounces 75% less. The court at this stage is the big one, with no size restrictions.
Finally the yellow stage, were we use the standard yellow ball and court, and the player is tall and strong enough to develop and enjoy the game.
My options for tennis balls for regular players are:
Pro Penn Marathon, the definition of durability.
Wilson Trinity, great ball and the first performance tennis ball designed with fully recyclable packaging.
Dunlop AO, play like a pro with a pro tennis ball.
Let them enjoy learning the game and you will enjoy it with them. If you’re a tennis player, imagine playing on the court with your children. That’s the dream!
Looking for kids' tennis lessons? TennisBC is a great resource.