No matter how talented and athletically gifted your children are, you cannot expect them to pick up the racquets and start playing like pros. Even the Roger Federers and Serena Williamses of the game started with the basics. Your kid needs to learn the basics before he/she starts playing the game competitively (or even casually). Tennis is a popular sport and it has its own, unique set of drills that can improve the skill and fitness levels of children. Tennis drills for kids are the foundations on which players can build their techniques and skill levels, as they progress through the learning curves. Improper techniques will lead to injuries, lack of skills and even early burnout from the game. Here is a look at some of the most important basic drills for kids and beginners of all ages.
Overall Fitness in Tennis Drills for Kids:
Tennis is an intensely physical sport and kids need to develop good level of basic fitness, before they even lift the racquet. These sets of overall fitness based tennis drills for kids are also commonly applied in exercise regimens of many other outdoor sports. Basic drills help in the following ways:
- Flexibility of Body
- Strength Development
- Endurance Development
The flexibility tennis drills for kids include basic stretching drills, especially for the hips and lower body which undergo a lot of movement and strain during the game
Strength development drills for kids do not entail lifting of heavy weights, they are usually ‘body weight’ based drills like pushups, sit ups, parallel bars, etc. These drills tone the muscles and prep them up to take more strain during game play. Basic strength exercises also help children in getting attuned their own bodies.
Endurance training based tennis drills for kids include running, swimming, breathing techniques, etc. The idea is to build up the stamina and endurance in kids, so that they can play for a longer period of time, without getting fatigued.
All basic fitness drills need to be augmented with a balanced diet; the kids need adequate nutrients in the right proportions to become fit.
Along with the basic drills, the kids will also need to develop game fitness. Tennis has its own set of game specific drills that are unique. These help in developing the skills of kids in specific aspects of tennis, which might not be relevant to other sports. These game fitness based tennis drills for kids help in developing:
- Hand – Eye Coordination
- Court Movement
- Ground Strokes
- Stroke Movement Combinations
- Service Toss and Hits
Coordination drills are the most popular with kids. Single player dribbles are the most basic of coordination drills and the kids are asked to keep dribbling the ball with racquet, without losing the sequence. Double player dribbles and other variations come a little later, after the kids have got some control over their dribbles.
Kids enjoy the reflex building drills too but they can be a little taxing sometimes. Reaction time is an important game aspect in tennis and players are expected to have sharp reflexes during game play. The basic reflex drills include exercises like hit and catch and obstacle course running. Kids develop mortar muscle coordination, anticipation and faster reaction times. Some of these drills are so effective that even advanced level players use them to keep their reflexes sharp.
The footwork drills are the most mundane and monotonous of all tennis drills for kids but they are the most important for game play. Players are expected to move around the court at full speed, twisting, anticipating and turning all the time. The leg and calf muscles need to be attuned to these specific sets of movements and the footwork drills help in doing that. The series of these drills include various running exercises, foot step drills, two step and three step forward-backward drills, etc. Footwork drills sometimes become a part of warm up exercises in some coaching centers.
Court movement tennis drills are an extension of footwork drills but are more attuned to make sure the kids know how big the court is and how many steps they need to take to cover each side of the court. Side to side leaps, forward backward runs, etc, are the most important court movement drills. These drills are only for beginners and kids, not for advanced players, who can practice these anyway when they are hitting the ball during practice sessions.
The actual game play and game techniques skills are developed during the strokes training drills. Most coaching centers specializing in tennis drills for kids, make sure their wards have achieved some level of control over the other basic drills, before introducing this set of drills to them. In these drills, kids will learn how to hit the ball; they’ll learn the different kind of strokes – forehand, backhand, overhead; they’ll learn how to change grips for each stroke and they’ll also learn how to alternate between strokes.
Stroke movement combos are the reserved for the kids who have already shown some amount of adeptness in all the other kind of drills. These drills combine court coverage drills with stroke development drills. The kids will be asked to run around the court and hit the ball at the same time. This is where the kids learn how to play a point in a game. These drills usually are conducted with groups of kids forming two different groups and competing each other on each point – making the sessions very interesting.
The service exercises are the most difficult of all tennis drills for kids and it takes some time for them to master. The service is an important aspect of the game and its techniques have to be mastered in the beginner stage. The service toss and service hit techniques need a good level of hand eye coordination and timing and the kids are put through drills that involve development of these techniques as well as actual services and hits practice sessions.
Tennis drills for kids are extremely important for their skill development and so, it is advisable to find a good coaching center that pays attention to these above mentioned basics while training the kids. These drills also reduce the learning curve of kids and get them upto speed much sooner.