We run programs for children as young as four, and the QuickStart programs are great in building skill sets essential for tennis players. However, one of the challenges in teaching tennis specific activities to groups of kids this young, is addressing the many differences in what they are individually capable of. For this reason, it’s very helpful to have a lead up program in which kids are gradually introduced to facets of the sport, fostering an interest and love for the sport of tennis.
One way to nurture children between the ages of two and four and prepare them for QuickStart lessons, is to have short 45-minute lessons that promote essential tennis skills: Perception, reception and projection, all the tools necessary for proper development of young tennis players.
In this program, parents can accompany their kids on the court, and play interactive games with foam balls and easily maneuverable 17-inch rackets. Making sure there is little to no standing in line, children play all the time and are being instructed simultaneously.
For these young athletes, it’s very important to discover the features of their surroundings, and they are encouraged to explore how they fit in this new environment. Simple movement exercises around the court, with and without their rackets, are incorporated to develop balance, body coordination and a feel for various body positions.
Lessons can be broken into several parts: Warm-up, skill development, agility training, coordination and hand rallying. Hand rallying plays a critical role in every lesson, because it recreates real-time scenarios that take place during a tennis match. This way, children quickly learn the essential tennis skills of timing, point of contact, depth perception, alignment prior to using a racket, etc.
►The key to emotionally engaging toddlers is to have every class offer amazing new experiences to ensure that children are always looking forward to the next lesson.
►It’s also important for children to make shots, this way they feel a sense of accomplishment and pride.
This article was co-written with Khrystsina Tryboi, a tennis pro at MatchPoint in Brooklyn, N.Y.