Does your son or daughter want to be the next Roger Federer or Maria Sharapova? If you’re looking into tennis lessons for kids, you might have some questions before you get started. Read on as West Orange, NJ tennis coach David E. tackles 6 of the frequently asked questions…
1) What size racquet should I get?
Generally the sizes recommended are as follows:
Ages 0-4: 19″
Ages 4-5: 21″
Ages 6-7: 23″
Ages 8-10: 25″
Ages 10-12: 26″
Ages 12 & up: adult size-27″-29″
The racquets can usually be purchased for about $20 at places like Sports Authority, Modell’s, & K-Mart. Most brands will display the size of the racquet and age that they are appropriate for.
2) What type of balls should be used?
Your kid can learn tennis with regular tennis balls, but it is generally agreed today that felt or foam balls are better. They have a slower bounce, and weigh less. This gives children plenty of time to react to the ball. They are also safer because they are soft. The disadvantages are that they are expensive, and sometimes start falling apart after a while. They can also be difficult to use outside, especially if it’s windy.
3) What type of lesson should I get my kid?
There are three types of lessons to consider: private, semi-private, & group lessons.
Private: Advantages are 1) completely individualized attention, 2) usually the most rapid improvement, and 3) best format to “fix” a stroke. Disadvantages are 1) usually expensive, 2) no other peers present, and 3) generally fewer fun games to play.
Semi-private: Advantages are 1) cost is shared between two players, 2) kids have a peer to play with, and 3) teachers can organize games and competitions between students. Disadvantages are 1) if one kid is learning faster than the other, it can be frustrating for slower learner, and 2) it can also hold back the kid who is learning faster.
Group: Advantages are 1) lowest cost, 2) different peers to socialize with, and 3) low pressure and usually the most fun. The one is disadvantage is that instruction per student is limited.
4) How long should tennis lessons for kids be?
For ages 4-7, 30 minutes is plenty. Kids ages 8-12 might consider 45 minutes, and 12 & older may be able to handle 60 minutes.
5) What qualities should a tennis instructor have?
Enthusiasm: If the tennis instructor is enthusiastic, very often this excitement will permeate to the student. If the instructor isn’t passionate about being out there on the court, how can your child be expected to be motivated?
Knowledge: The instructor needs a sound knowledge of things like grips, stroke techniques, footwork, and strategies.
Patience: Your child needs to feel comfortable with the instructor, so using positive reinforcement and critical responses can help. The instructor needs to be calm, offer a lot of praise, and not show frustration if it takes time for your kid to improve in their skills.
Communication Skills: It is important to understand that there are multiple learning styles. One student can learn by verbal instruction, and another may need step-by-step visual guidance. They need the ability to break down instructions into a progression of achievable goals. Also, communicating by using humor at times is helpful in making a lesson more fun for your kid.
6) What exactly is taught in tennis lessons for kids?
Your child will learn the fundamentals of the forehand, backhand, volley, overhead, and serve. To ensure success, progression will be used. Starting with a drop feed, short tossed, and then a feed from the racquet. Your kid should start inside the service line, and then move back gradually when they show success in drilling. Drills and games are used to make it educational and fun, too. That’s the most important thing: for your child to experience success it is important that the lesson is fun!
David E. teaches private, semi-private, and group tennis lessons in West Orange, NJ. He has over 30 years of experience teaching tennis, and joined the TakeLessons team in 2014. Learn more about David and book lessons here!
Photo by Frédéric de Villamil