How to Teach Tennis to “Very” Young Children (3 – 4 Years Old)

This is another question I received from a young tennis coach and I wanted to share my response with you…

“I know that 3 or 4 is a very young age, but are you their first coach? Have they taken any tennis lessons before? If yes, were they private or groups?
– With this young age group, you want to do a lot of hand-eye coordination exercises and some basic technique (don’t go into details and do not expect them to do things perfectly from the beginning). 
– If they were new to tennis, I would introduce a lot of games like throw and catch, teaching the lines, ask them questions about tennis (who is their favourite tennis player; if they know the parts of the racquet, etc.), do drills and games such as Jail Breaker, Caterpillar (both are games that kids really enjoy), Potato Race (for speed and fun competition) etc. 
– Teach them basic forehand technique in the first lesson but don’t do it for more than 15 minutes (the rest should be all kinds of fun drills and games) and very importantly do not make them stay in line for more than 1 minute at a time; they get bored easily therefore you should keep them active all the time.
– If you have to work with them individually, give a task to the others (pick up balls, jump rope, bounce a ball etc.). Have them pick up balls doing fun competitions like asking them to see who can make the biggest pile of balls on the racquet etc. 
– Another important aspect: when I teach kids younger than 6 years my lessons are no longer than 45 minutes. I prefer to keep it short and intense than having them run around for 1 hour, which can be exhausting for them. With 3 – 4 years of age, I would keep the lessons shorter – 30 minutes.
– Make it fun!”

Cosmin Miholca
coach and founder,
WebTennis24.com

Can your child work through their frustrations without you?

As a parent, have you ever wondered why some of the coaches don’t allow parents to assist in the tennis lessons their children take?

We live in a society where the parents are sometimes overprotecting their kids… If the child gets injured, or falls, or something doesn’t go their way, they look for comfort and understanding in the arms of their parents.

We, the parents, want to help our children… However, as a tennis coach (and parent), I have witnessed too many young players misbehaving on the tennis court. Often, it is just a simple error that triggers the frustration or meltdown.
(How to Teach Tennis to Your Own Child – video lessons)

Consistently, the children tend to be more “dramatic” when parents are present; the parents’ good intentions ultimately create future setbacks.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that the mistake (or problem) can actually teach our children a whole lot more in the long run. If they miss a shot or lose a point, they try to seek comfort and understanding from their parents by looking towards them. Or on occasion, pretending that they are sick or perhaps injured…
When their parents are not present, they learn to understand that when problems occur, the only way to deal with them is by handling these problems by themselves…!

So what is my point?

Parents: whether in a tennis practice or a match, allow your children to make mistakes and errors… Let them fall and learn how to get back up by themselves! Let them get frustrated and learn that being “down” is their chance to find solutions and overcome problems.
Let your kids succeed on their own!

 

Cosmin Miholca
WebTennis24.com