“Kids Playing Tennis” by Club Med – Discover a New World is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Summer is the perfect time to introduce your kids to tennis. School’s out. The weather’s nice enough to play at your neighborhood tennis court. And with the French Open in June, Wimbledon in July and the US Open in August, youngsters can soak up some inspirational grand slam magic before school’s back in session.
Any sport at all is obviously great for kids. It keeps them fit – and away from their tablets – while also developing important life skills like teamwork and dedication. Then of course there are the physical benefits: hand-eye coordination, balance, reaction time, agility, endurance and speed.
However, tennis has certain elements that other sports lack. Being an individual sport, tennis really only requires one other player (as opposed to a full team, like with basketball, soccer or baseball) so it’s a sport you can play easily and throughout your whole lifetime. Parents love that it’s relatively safe (how often do you hear of a kid being rushed to the hospital for a tennis injury?) and also the barriers to start are low. All you really need is a racquet, a can of balls and a court/wall. Best of all, tennis can improve a child’s mental toughness and problem solving skills. Tennis is, as the adage goes, 90% mental.
So how can you introduce your kids to tennis (or any sport really) in a way that sparks a lifelong passion without pushing them too hard?
Be a Positive Role Model
If your child sees that exercise is a priority in your own life, they’ll naturally want to do the same. So hit the gym, go on family bike rides, kick a ball around the yard and of course, play tennis yourself.
Keep it fun
It’s really important to keep your child’s experience of tennis positive and fun. Especially at the beginning when they’re bound to make lots of mistakes and feel somewhat silly. Make sure to laugh along with them and just have a good time rather than focusing too much on technique or rules.
Sign Them up for Private Lessons, Group Clinics or Summer Camps
Your next step is to sign them up for private lessons, group clinics or summer tennis camps so they can start to improve their form and establish a solid foundation. Being around other children will bring out their social side and lets them forge friendships that carry over into the school year. Whether they’re a beginner learning the game or advancing to higher levels of competition, learning with others help’s develop their passion for the sport. Learn more at USTA Foundation.
Let Them Choose! (Very Important)
Before signing them up, make sure to talk to them first. If they already have positive feelings about tennis, thanks to those fun memories made with you on the court, then they’ll be motivated to continue. But it’s vital that the decision is theirs.
Take them to a Pro, College or Junior tournament
It doesn’t have to be a grand slam. Watching a live tournament at a local tennis club, university or even high school will show your kids what advanced levels of tennis look like. They’ll be inspired to dream big.
Get them geared up
If you really want your kids to get bitten by the tennis bug, then don’t just give them your rusty old racket and some chewed-up tennis balls. Gear that’s designed specifically for their size and ability level will help them feel – and play – their best. The good news is that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to get your kids tennis-ready.
For really young players, a starter racquet like the Babolat 2019 Ballfighter 17 (for ages 5 and under) or the Wilson Ultra Team Junior 21 (ages 6-8) are affordable and functional. For ages 9 and up, we’d recommend investing in a racquet with some performance-enhancing features, such as the Head Graphene 360+ Gravity Junior 25 or the Head IG gravity 25. Learn more about choosing the right racquet for your junior player.
Balls are relatively inexpensive and these days you can get lower compression balls that allow for a better success rate when they play. Red foam or felt balls are a great, safe option to play indoors or outdoors. Orange and Green felt balls are also great for juniors who want to advance their skills.
The best tennis clothes are comfortable, provide UV protection and incorporate sweat-wicking technology. Nike, Athletic DNA and Under Armour have great ranges of junior boys’ apparel. While for junior girls’ apparel we like Lucky in Love, Nike and adidas.
Tennis-specific shoes will offer your child great support while also protecting the court from scuffing. Best-selling brands of junior shoes include Nike, ASICS, adidas, New Balance, Babolat, K-Swiss, and Wilson.
When it comes to accessories, the sky’s the limit. Shop caps and visors, bags, and headbands and wristbands.
So there you have it – everything you need to know to ignite your kids’ lifelong love of tennis. Happy playing!
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