Tennis Balls and Court Size for Kids

balls and court size for kids tennis

This is a subject that tennis parents ask me sometimes: what type of tennis balls should their child play with and whether he/she should play on a full size court or smaller one.
I personally encourage the idea of children progression from slower to faster balls for the following reasons:
– slower balls let them swing harder without being afraid of missing deep (biggest fear)
– they have more time to prepare for the shot (good technique)
– promotes longer rallies.

tennis ball for red level kids play1. Red Balls – these are the slowest and largest of the balls and are recommended for little children age 4-7. Along with the red balls, players can also use sponge balls which are both oversized, about 75% slower than a regular adult tennis ball, that give beginning players time to prepare for the shot and add a big swing without being afraid to missing deep.
The court size that the red balls should be used is a small one (36 feet long). Beginning palyers using red balls or playing red ball tournaments have the net placed along the center service line or between service line and baseline and the points are played between the doubles lines.

orange ball for kids tennis2. Orange Balls – are about 50% slower than a regular tennis ball and they are recommended for children between the age of 7-9. Used on 60x21 feet tennis court (show how the lines are positioned: baseline is 9 feet / 3 meters inside the regular baseline; singles side lines are 3 feet / 1 meter inside the regular side line)

ball for green level kids tennis3. Green Dot Balls – are about 25% slower than regular tennis balls and are recommended for kids who are 9 or 10 years old.
Those who play green ball tournaments use a full court, are fast enough to cover a larger ares and are almost ready to move up to a regular yellow tennis ball which bounces higher and moves faster.
They are also called transition tennis balls.

adult tennis ball4. Yellow (Adult) Tennis Balls – should be used by children who are at least 11 years old and my recommandation is that the transition should be done gradually using practice balls that are slower and lower bounce than tournament balls.

It is important to not start the beginning players with balls that the child finds difficult to control in regard to speed and height because they can develop bad habits in order to adjust to the new ball, such as: western grip (to hit high bouncing balls), tight arm (being afraid to not lose control of the ball), poor footwork.
Transitioning from one ball type and court size should be done under careful supervision and the before mentioned technical aspects should be monitored so that the child’s technique and footwork is not affected.

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Teaching Professional

Visit the Training, Coaching and Kids Tennis sections at WebTennis24 – lessons, tips and drills for players, coaches and tennis parents.

10 Tips to Be a Better Tennis Coach

how to become a better tennis coach

The following tips are for tennis coaches to connect with their students, gain their respect and, as a result, get more clients:

1) Do not wear sunglasses when meeting your students for the first time or you greet them as they come to your classes. They should be able to see your eyes. You’ll make a good connection with them.
IF you wear sunglasses, as they approach you, taking them off, shows that you care for them.

2) Have a positive attitude.
Your students should not have to know that your new-born baby (like it happened to me) was keeping you up all night and you did not close an eye the night before. Even if you had a tough previous lesson with another client, you should reset and put on a smilling face for the next student or class.

Keep it positive and show that you are excited to see them every time.

3) You should always remember your students’ names and say it a few times during their lessons. Everybody enjoys to hear their name mentioned; it is a form of respect from your part.

4) Never pick up or talk on the phone during your tennis lessons. Imagine you are a parent who is paying for their child’s lesson but you see the coach talking on the phone when he should be in fact interracting and giving instructions to your child. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients; they want your undivided attention during the time they employ your services.

5) You should never be late for your lessons, otherwise it should be free for your client. If you know you will be late, definitely find a way to let your student know ahead of time. My advice for you is to always get on the court at least 15 minutes before your lesson so you have enough time to get the court and any teaching aids, that you will be using for the class, ready.

6) Do not gossip!
Don’t talk negative aspects about your other clients, fellow coaches or competing tennis clubs/organizations. If you don’t have anything positive to say, better not say anything at all. The negative talking will reflect on you and your clients will associate what you say with the feeling they have towards you. So keep your actions and words as positive as possible.

7) Show respect for your tennis students and especially for those who have stopped taking lessons with you. Even if they are not your clients anymore, your former students can be great ambassadors to promote your services to their friends and families.

8) Once in awhile you should offer free lessons to those who cannot afford them. In addition to that, you could organize weekly get-togethers where your students and their friends can play together. It is a great way not only to offer your players a chance to get extra practice but it is also an excellent way to meet their families and spread the word about you and your services.
(I used to organise a 1 hour games-and-play session every Thursday evening inviting all my students to come and play. I would match them up according to their skills and parents would be participating in feeding balls to start the games or picking up balls, etc. It was fun!)

9) Look clean and smell nice.
We, coaches, sometimes have to rally with our students therefore it is important that we have spare clothes and a way to take care of our appearance before and after each lessson.

10) Find ways to constantly improve your knowledge about the latest teaching techniques, and share what you know with the younger fellow coaches. Be available to share your experience not only with your students, but with their parents or anybody who is willing to learn. Knowleadge should not be kept as a secret. It should be shared so that others benefit from it.

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Teaching Professional

Visit the Training, Coaching and Kids Tennis sections at WebTennis24 – lessons, tips and drills for players, coaches and tennis parents.

Avoid THIS If You Want to Teach Tennis to Your Child

tips for teaching kids tennis

When I decided to teach my (then) 4, respectively 5 year old two daughters how to play tennis I was both excited and terrified in the same time.

I had already enough experience playing and teaching tennis for almost 30 years but putting all my knowledge on the line to help my two daughters fall in love with the sport was a major job for me.

As a tennis teaching professional you can encounter a lot of pressure when it comes to teaching your own children.

Despite that, after a serious discussion with my wife, we have decided that nobody would ever put more passion in teaching our daughters as much as I would do it as a parent and tennis coach.

BUT… there was one step that had to be carefully planned:

How to make my kids take me seriously as a coach and change their perception toward me from the “fun daddy” to… “coach daddy”?

Up to that point, I was the daddy who was coming home and they would jump on his back, go for bike rides, go to the beach, read with them, and have fun.

That was all good in the beginning when we began to transfer those fun activities onto the tennis court, but at some point we had to ease into the technical aspects of the tennis strokes and learn that tennis requires some serious moments when repetition and certain focused activities are not as entertaining as the games my daughters were used to play with me.

Something had to be done. Something that would get my daughters to ask me to teach them how to play tennis and allow me to introduce them to the mechanical aspects of tennis strokes and footwork.

After careful analysis and long discussions with my wife, we both agreed that the best solution to have our daughters be willing to learn tennis from me would be to enroll them into group classes under the guidance of a(nother) tennis coach.

Why?​

We figured that by being enrolled in group classes, our two daughters will see other children playing and enjoying tennis.
They will see other children learning, executing the strokes technique and paying attention to a coach’s instructions.

My daughters, in this way, got introduced to tennis by joining other children of their age and observing how others behave in a tennis class.

That was a turning point! ​

My daughters, soon, decided to allow me to teach them not only the technical aspects, but they wanted to excel by practicing more only to get better and eventually participate in competitions.

Conclusion:​

If you are a tennis parent, don’t try to teach your children yourself… in the beginning!
Allow them to learn by participating and observing other kids of their age, first.
Only after they get introduced to tennis together with other children, they will be more open to learning and working hard… just like they saw other kids doing it.

If you want to learn my step-by-step method and see how I taught my two daughters to play tennis, from the age of 5 respectively 6, up to junior years, visit the WebTennis24 Kids section to follow the “My Daddy / My Coach” video series.
You’ll see live and full tennis lessons (each about 45-65 minutes) in which I share all my tennis knowledge in teaching my daughters how to play and fall in love with the sport.

Have fun teaching tennis to your children!

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Teaching Professional

Visit the Training, Coaching and Kids Tennis sections at WebTennis24 – lessons, tips and drills for players, coaches and tennis parents.

Easy Way to Teach the Volley [Video]

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The Volley is my favourite tennis stroke to teach, and that’s because I follow a progression that is both educational and fun for my students to learn.

It all begins by presenting the Volley as a “catch” and imagining that the racquet is an extension of the player’s hand.

Here are the steps that I follow (see the video below for visual demonstration):

1. I toss a few balls towards my student’s dominant side and ask her to catch them. While she does that, I emphasise the fact that she does not take the hand back before catching the ball, nor does she follow-through after catching it. So the volley should not have a backswing or a follow-through.
It is a catch and a push. The pushing should come from stepping forward towards the ball, or getting the body weight into it.

2. After getting comfortable catching the ball (by the way, to take some pressure away you can use soft balls such as kids’ balls for the student to not be afraid of being hit in the face), proceed to catching the ball using the racquet.
Help the player imagine that the racquet is a bigger hand and she should attempt to once again catch the balls, this time on the strings. Tell her that she should not be swinging, just tapping the ball so that it goes over the net (by the way, the player should be no more than 6 feet away from the net, at this stage; later on, we’ll show her where to position and how to cover the court).

3. Continue the same drill while the player slides, gradually, the hand lower towards the bottom of the grip. At all this time, the student is taught to hold the racquet with a “hammer” grip (like she would be hammering a nail with the edge of it).

4. Once the player feels more comfortable catching and tapping the ball with the strings holding the racquet with a hammer grip, the next step would be to learn the basic footwork. Explain to her that power, when volleying, comes from catching the ball out in front and moving the body weight into it.
For that, as she prepares to catch the ball on the strings, she has to make a step in the direction of the ball.
(Note: Keep in mind that we are at the beginning stages of learning the volley therefore the footwork that the player learns is a basic one, keeping it simple and not overwhelming her with too much information. Later on we’ll add the more complex movement that requires covering the court and getting to the ball in balance).

Some of the technical aspects, that a coach should pay attention to, are:

  • not letting the racquet head drop below the hand level; keep the racquet cocked so that there is a 90 degrees angle between the forearm and handle;
  • no backswing – racquet stays in front of the line of shoulders;
  • no follow-through – after catching the ball, the racquet comes to a stop and is being brought back in the ready position;
  • remind the player that power comes from catching the ball early and stepping into the shot;
  • the racquet head is slightly open (facing up) so that later on, combined with a high to low push (or punch) will create under-spin which is essential to control the ball. 

For a visual presentation of this lesson, see the video below.

To learn how to teach tennis to children or any beginning player, visit the Kids section or 10 Lesson Plans for Teaching Beginning Tennis Players from WebTennis24.

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Teaching Professional

Visit the Training, Coaching and Kids Tennis sections at WebTennis24 – lessons, tips and drills for players, coaches and tennis parents.

How to Choose a Racquet for Your Child

how to choose a kids tennis racquet

One of the questions I frequently receive from tennis parents is: “What racquet should I buy for my son/daughter?”

Before we dive into the details of choosing a tennis racquet, I would like to mention that there are certain recommended racquet specs according to a child’s age. But that does not mean children and parents should strictly follow those recommendations…

We know that children develop differently – some (let’s say) seven years olds are taller, some are shorter; some are stronger…

If a child is ready to play with a heavier racquet than standard recommended, he/she can do so.

Having said that, here are the recommended racquet lengths according to the children’s age:

  • 21” racquet would be best for 4-5 year olds;
  • 23” long racquet can be used by children of 6-8 years;
  • 25” long racquet would be preferred by 9-10 year olds;
  • 26” racquets are recommended for 10-11 years;
  • 27” can be used by any child that is 12 and older. 

My suggestion, for children who are ready to move up to a 27” adult racquet, is to choose a light version, under 10 ounces.

But again, if a child is strong and ready to benefit from a heavier racquet (more power, control) while avoiding injuries, he/she can demo/try and eventually purchase one that is above the standard recommendations.

Following I would like to present a few details that not only children, but adults as well, should consider when choosing a new tennis racquet.

Being the most important piece of equipment for any tennis player, the racquet should be carefully analysed so that it matches the player’s style of play and/or level of performance:

1. Racquet Weight – should be chosen according to the child’s strength.
There is an easy exercise you can do with your child: have her hold the racquet by the handle, take it behind her back with the elbow bent over the dominant shoulder; from there on ask her to swing up like she would be serving; observe how hard it is for her to do that; if it is too heavy, her face will tell you; if it is too light, she’ll also tell you.
Find a racquet that she feels that is not too heavy but not too light. If the player should be in doubt, always opt for a slightly heavier frame than lighter. More weight will help in absorbing the shock that is created at the contact with the ball thus saving the arm.

2. Grip Size – the child should be able to wrap their hand around the handle (gently) and there should be space enough to put the index finger (of the non-dominant hand) between the fingers tips and heel of the dominant palm; if it is too small or too large she’ll grip it too hard to not lose the racquet from her hand.

3. Racquet Head – this is a debatable subject because some coaches say that a small head (somewhere around 95-98 square inches) forces the child to make a clean contact with the ball, while others suggest that a larger head (105-110) can help the player achieve good contact with the ball easier thus making it easy to learn or practice their skills.
In my opinion, a racquet that has a circumference of 100 square inches is just about right for most players.

4. Racquet Strings are the most important element of every tennis racquet. That does not mean the others are not important. It is just that no matter how good the racquet is, the strings must be suited to player’s style of play.
Therefore, here are a few factors related to strings tension, composition, and thickness:

  • Tension – if you want more power, opt for a lower tension; for more control, string it tighter; you can find the specifications of the recommended string tension on the side of the racquet.
  • String composition – can be nylon, polyester or natural gut – the nylon is the cheapest, the gut is more expensive – you might think that the more expensive the sting the better feel; you are not far from the truth but it all depends of what you need: if you break strings a lot you might be ok with playing with a thick nylon, for more feel and control you can find some good polyester strings (my favourite choice), if you can afford to spend more then go for natural gut.
  • There is also the consideration of thickness of the string: the thinner it is the more it bites into the ball favouring spin and control; but it breaks sooner.

As you can see, there are quite a few factors you should consider when settling for a particular racquet. But the important part is that the racquet is only as good as the string (composition, tension) you put on.

My recommendation would be to either experiment with a few racquets by enrolling in your nearest pro shop demo program (even online tennis stores have demo programs through which they send you racquets to try before you decide to buy one), or ask a coach’s help in choosing one. A tennis professional stringer can take a look at your swing and style of play before advising you on which path to take in choosing your new tennis racquet.

I wish there would be an easy way, but in fact, the racquet is the most important piece of tennis equipment you will have. That’s why you should not make this decision in a hurry.

For a video presentation of this material (how to choose a tennis racquet for your child) visit WebTennis24 Kids section or 10 Lesson Plans program for teaching tennis to beginning players.

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Teaching Professional

Visit the Training, Coaching and Kids Tennis sections at WebTennis24 – lessons, tips and drills for players, coaches and tennis parents.