Nothing says British summertime better than Pimm’s, fresh strawberries and Wimbledon. As a nation we love sitting courtside or on our sofas as the world’s best tennis players battle it out to be the next champion. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t get involved yourself, so the team at ACE has pulled together some tips for introducing tennis to your little ones. Tennis is a fantastic cardiovascular exercise that helps to develop balance, agility and co-ordination as well as concentration and teamwork. It’s also one of the safest sports in terms of injury rates, and you don’t need to be an expert yourself to make it fun! Don’t be afraid to get kitted out in the traditional tennis whites, because ACE for Whites is on hand to help you remove the stains, but keep the memories of getting outside and playing tennis as a family.
If your children have never played tennis before, there are some little exercises you can do to get them started. Once you have the basic equipment – namely a tennis racquet, balls and shoes that provide good support – get them used to holding the racquet. Pass a beanbag or soft ball from your racquet to theirs, gradually moving apart to gently toss it backwards and forwards. You can make it more challenging by standing on one leg and practising passes that are higher or lower.
Play games like holding the racquet out flat and balancing the ball on it, then tipping the ball off to let it bounce and catch it again on the racquet. These small exercises will help your children improve their coordination and get used to controlling the racquet and ball. You don’t need access to a court to get started either – just a safe space that’s big enough to rally the ball backwards and forwards and isn’t close to anything breakable!
You (probably) aren’t professionals, so don’t worry too much about rules and regulations. Teach the basics like holding the racquet and aiming, then encourage your children to play freely. If you’re worried about the ball being hit too hard, you can buy foam or low compression balls to slow the game down and soften the ball’s impact. Introduce games like hitting the ball against a wall/garage door and try some challenges like how many times you have to hit the ball without dropping it, flipping the racquet between shots or letting it bounce before hitting it.
If you find that your children have a knack for tennis, make sure it stays fun. Whilst we all want to challenge our kids to be the best they can be, the pressure to achieve can make them lose interest. Encourage them to join teams or seek proper lessons, but only if they’d like to. Allow them to just have a hobby that keeps everyone fit. If your children really love tennis, make it more a part of your lives. Wii tennis is a good way to learn the rules and still ‘play’, even when it’s cold and dark outside. Take them to games to see other people playing and meet other people who love it too!
Playing tennis is an easy sport to play as a family or with a group of friends. Give everyone a chance to play so that no-one gets bored or left out – it’s a good way to help siblings work together in a double’s match against the parents. As your little ones get older, you can start being a bit more competitive and strategic. Playing in teams will help your children learn to play with other people and share responsibility. As they win and lose, they should also learn how to win humbly and lose graciously, a trait that will help them in all areas of life!