Tennis drills for children emphasize the fun and exciting part of tennis. Just one tennis drill for a child can help motivate them to continue playing tennis.
Tennis can be a fantastically fun game. It can also be a very frustrating game.
The difference between children trying the sport for a few hours then quitting it for life and playing it for a few hours and falling in love for life could be the type of coaching that the child receives and how much fun he or she has while learning the sport.
That’s where enjoyable tennis drills for children come in.
The word “drill” does not usually have “fun” in front of it, but if you use these games with your young students, they will beg for them again and again. Here are five of the best tennis drills for children, used by coaches and teachers across the globe:
Tennis Drill for Children #1: Around the World
Two groups with an equal number of children stand on opposite baselines, lined up in single file behind the center mark. The teacher stands at one net post and feeds a ball to the first player in group A, who then hits the ball and sprints around the court to the other baseline, standing behind the last player in group B once he or she reaches the other side.
At this point, the instructor can continue this drill in one of two ways, depending on the level of the players: he or she can let the first shot be played by the first player in group B, who then hits and runs to the last spot in group A, etc. Or, the instructor can simply feed a ball to group B’s first hitter and if it lands in, he or she is still in the game. The last player who has not mis-hit any balls is the winner, either through instructor feeds or continuous play between the two groups.
This drill is a favorite tennis drill for children because there is lots of movement and a friendly team vibe even though only one winner will be crowned. If your players are just learning the game, instructor feed is the way to go. If they are able to sustain short rallies, then the less instructor involvement, the better.
Tennis Drill for Children #2: Volleyball Tennis
This tennis drill for kids can only be used with more advanced players because it emphasizes perfecting the volley. This drill never fails to draw a lot of laughter and shrieking. You need two teams of 6-9 players, standing in classic volleyball team formation, usually a 3-3-3 alignment. The back player at the far right of the last line serves the ball underhanded, as in volleyball, and the game proceeds as a volleyball match would, complete with player rotation. Your players will learn very well how to pick the ball out of the air and react quickly to shots at the net.
Score should be kept as in volleyball as well. This drill is an all-time favorite tennis drill for children for a reason, although everyone should be warned that the potential for a hard hit at the net does exist. It rarely happens, but sometimes a player on one front line has a high volley that is hit directly at the body of the other front line, intentionally or unintentionally. If you have a group of younger students that you sense do not want any sort of this type of contact, do not use this drill. If, however, you have a group of players that likes wild games and risk-taking (and parents who will not panic if their child is actually hit with a ball), then this drill will be demanded to wrap up every practice.
Tennis Drill for Children #3: Hit and Run
This drill helps children learn to move after they hit the ball in order to get back into good position and be ready for their opponent’s shot.
It also helps students to perfect their footwork as they shuffle along the baseline, something beginner players must learn through practice. The children stand in a single-file line at the center mark, behind the baseline.
The instructor stands at the net with several balls. he or she hits the ball to the player’s far right, then to the middle of the court, then to the player’s far left, etc.
The player continues hitting balls until he or she hits one out. The instructor can either wait to receive the player’s shot and hit it to another spot or feed the ball as soon as the player makes contact. How you run the drill depends on the age and skill level of the children.
If they are young, you will need to feed the balls slowly. If they are a bit older, the faster you feed the ball, the more panic-stricken everyone becomes, greatly enhancing the excitement of this drill. Each player gets to move quickly to his right, then to his left, then to his left again, then to his right, etc. Your players will get very tired, but they will master the shuffle step needed to scamper quickly along the baseline. The group of players will quickly compete for who can hit the most successive balls in the court. There will be a lot of noise and excitement during this drill, which is always the goal for a tennis drill for children!
Tennis Drill for Children #4: Simon Says
This drill is a good one for beginner players as it checks the form of players in a unique version of this well-known game. All of the children should have a racquet and should be spread out at least 4-6 feet from each other, depending on how many are filling a half court. The children can even spill over into the area behind the baseline if you have a large group. The instructor stands at the net and calls out, “Simon says hit a forehand.”
The children then must all begin a slow forehand stroke to demonstrate that they know what the stroke is called and how it is performed.
The instructor continues to call out strokes, mixing in a few commands without “Simon says” to check the children’s attention. The instructor should also call out “Simon says freeze” during some executions of strokes to check the proper form for each one. If a child does not do what Simon says or lacks good form, he or she is out.
The instructor can take that opportunity to gently correct the child who still has not mastered the form of a given stroke. If the instructor has taught his pupils well, it should take a long time for players to be eliminated from this game. They will be focused and executing each stroke with good form, doing precisely what Simon says.
Tennis Drill for Children #5: Mini tennis
This is a drill that can be done as a warm-up and used with either foam balls or low compression balls. It teaches hand-eye coordination and control. Four players each stand behind the service box line, two on one side of the net, two on the other.
One player begins the drill by hitting underhand to the other side of the net, keeping the ball within the service boxes. Each player takes a turn “serving” in this way and the teams compete either with standard tennis scoring or with accumulated points to a given number, perhaps 15 or 21.
This drill can actually be used in a tournament format, with winning teams playing winning teams, consolation brackets, etc. It depends on how long you have to warm up for the lesson. This is also a great tennis drill for children because it allows the instructor to move from court to court and check form or prepare other activities for the day. The ball can either land in the service box or be picked out of the air. The children can hit either soft ground strokes or volleys. The ball can be hit to either player on the other side of the net at any time.
These five tennis drills for children have been used for many years to teach youngsters the game. Try them with your group and see which ones become the most popular and most efficient in teaching the skills of the game. As tennis is kept fun and not frustrating, it is more likely that your students will play for decades to come. In other words, the best measure of a drill could be to see how many of your students are playing 50 years from now.