Junior Tennis Pathway
There is a starting point for every child who is introduced to tennis. The first experience might be on a playground with friends, or it may be in the driveway with a parent or family member. Really, it could be in any number of settings—at school during physical education class, during recess, or in a before- or after-school program.
Many youth program providers also offer tennis, generally in after-school or summer programs, and introductory tennis classes are common in most communities in Coloado and are typically offered by parks, camps or clubs.
However it happens, once your child has that first experience and develops a perceived level of ability—the thought that, “Hey, I can do this”—it is important to identify opportunities for your child to participate. Here are several possibilities that are all great for kids.
An opportunity often overlooked in our highly scheduled society is spontaneous play. This is where kids can learn and play either by themselves or with other kids. It could be hitting balls against a wall or garage door, or by setting up modified courts that fit into smaller or more restricted spaces.
Kids in other youth sports shoot baskets, kick or throw balls in the backyard or skateboard down the sidewalk and off the curb. Playing tennis with foam balls on a modified court can provide endless hours of activity and fun. It is interesting to note that champions in many other sports spent most of their developmental years learning from others and playing spontaneously.
Previously this was difficult because kids only had options of playing on the same-sized court and with the same ball that the pros use. The 10 and Under Tennis/QuickStart Tennis play format uses equipment that is scaled to the size of the child.
Racquets are shorter, lighter and have smaller handles. Balls are softer, lighter, bounce lower and move slower through the air. Courts are smaller and the net is lower. This makes it possible for kids to learn by playing rather than having to learn all the strokes before they even play the game.
Smaller courts can be set up on driveways, parking lots, playgrounds, activity rooms, gymnasiums and even on tennis courts using sidewalk chalk for lines and a rope or “caution tape” as a net. Several manufacturers make pop-up nets that are portable and can easily be set up and disassembled.
Hitting balls against a wall or garage door has a rich tradition in our sport. Many champions have grooved their strokes by hitting balls against a wall. With the balls modified so they are lighter, slower and lower bouncing (red, orange and green balls), hitting against a wall is easier, safer and allows a child to take a full swing at the ball and still have time to recover and prepare for the next shot.