DO YOU believe that sport should be played primarily for enjoyment?
Do you think sport a tool that facilitates healthy habits for life?
Do you think kids should be given the opportunity to develop athletically and find something they are passionate about?
These are questions to ask yourself when considering your child’s sporting future…
Most of us have witnessed first hand or heard stories about “pushy parents” who chose a sport like tennis for their kids and only have eyes for the prize money that comes with a professional career. It doesn’t take a genius to see why this will end badly in most cases. And if you look at some of the greatest tennis players in history you will see that they were not conditioned exclusively to become pro tennis players.
Rafael Nadal had a decision to make at age 12, tennis or soccer? He could have been professional at both but felt he excelled more at tennis, his upbringing allowed him to make the decision and never look back. One of the most talented young players on the tour, Nick Kyrgios, could have chosen a career in basketball, likewise for an American No. 1 player John Isner.
There are exceptions, the Williams sisters and Andre Agassi all had their paths mapped out with the ultimate goal of becoming pro tennis players. But Venus and Serena both had to take a much needed break during their careers to enjoy the parts of life they missed out on growing up. Agassi’s dad made him train for hours every day in the Nevada sun and it payed off, he became one of the greatest players in history. But Andre states several times in his autobiography Open that he “hates” tennis and had to endure some tough times in later life due to the pressure he was put under as a kid.
“I play tennis for a living even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion and always have.”
Is this what a parent hopes for when they take their child down to the tennis club for the first time? What about all the little Agassis that didn’t make it? What sort of childhood did they have?
? ? ?
Think back to the questions at the start of this blog, what more could a parent ask for than a child who is having fun, has developed healthy habits for life and has found something they have a genuine passion for? Introducing your child to tennis can give them these gifts and a whole lot more, here are just a few…
The rate at which kids can develop coordination given the opportunity is amazing. Tennis encompases a range of coordination from hand-eye to gross and fine motor skills to footwork skills. A child who learns these coordination skills at a young age can use them in whatever path he or she chooses. They will also gain confidence in their own bodies giving them higher self-esteem.
Learn Sportsmanship, Honesty & Social Skills
Defeats in tennis can be tough but guess what? So are defeats in life. What defines us is how we react to those defeats. Tennis gives children the perfect opportunity to learn what it means to behave the right way when things haven’t gone according to plan. It also teaches them honesty as it is one of the few sports where the opponent can also be the referee. Tennis will also allow your child to develop social skills as they will need to make friends to have partners to practice with.
Improve Mental Attributes
Tennis is a simple sport to begin with but as a player improves, the strategic layers make them develop strong mental attributes. A child who continues to play tennis will learn their strengths and weaknesses and how best to apply and protect them. They will also learn how to solve problems under pressure and most importantly they will learn to do this without the help of anyone but themselves. To get better at anything in life requires dedication and as your child begins to notice their own improvements this will drive them and give them the understanding that hard work will help them achieve their goals.
? ? ?
So how do you get your kids involved in tennis?
Just get out there and play! Use your imagination and build a court on the street, in the driveway or in the park. Chalk and string go a long way when making your own court! Don’t worry about technique or making it too structured, kids just want to play for fun. Most people have some old rackets lying around the house, if not you can pick up a couple of rackets at reasonable price, you don’t need the latest technology to enjoy a game of tennis. We recommend using Play and Stay tennis balls when starting off, these are basically just low pressure balls that are easier to control making the rallies last longer and are the same price as regular balls.
Once you’ve had a bit of fun and want to take the next step then why not try some tennis coaching? At WW Tennis our goal is to give children a fun experience when they come to play tennis so that the motivation to develop better technique and strategy comes from within. We offer a range of classes to suit all ages and abilities and there’s is no commitment if you just want to come down and give it a go.