The Age Group
Working with younger kids is not completely new to me as I have 3 kids of my own. I do think being as positive as possible is a major factor in instilling a love for tennis. The 10 and Under equipment has made picking up some of the basic skills of tennis a lot less daunting. I recall as a 5th grade student being somewhat appalled at my two friends/classmates who also played tennis serving from the service line rather than the baseline. They had the right idea. A lot of people my age (38) who were interested in tennis started playing by picking up a wooden racquet out of the back of a closet and trying to figure it out as we went. 10 and Under Tennis offers a much better way to begin, but the instructors need to show enthusiasm as well.
I’ve enjoyed seeing how drills have an embedded purpose ranging from simply improving hand eye coordination to creating a mentality that will be useful when rallying. My favorite drills at this point are as follows:
- Bounce Capture/Catch – Hand Eye Coordination Drill
- Bounce and Scoop – Hand Eye Coordination Drill
- Rolly Poley – Racquet Skills Drill
- Land and Sea – A Footwork Drill
- Guiding the Bell Around the Lines – A Racquet Skill Drill
I am working at Stage 1 of what Patrick McEnroe described in the video linked above, but I have to say I am loving learning about how to share tennis with younger people. Broadening as an instructor is of course satisfying, but seeing kids quickly pick up skills and enjoy what they are doing is my favorite part of my introduction to this program. My daughter loves showing my wife her ability to do bounce capture and she is just at the beginning. To see my father who is 66 playing tennis multiple times per week and to see my own children becoming interested in the sport is a nice feeling.