The key to keeping tennis fun for kids is to introduce enjoyable games to mix in with the drills and with match play. As children learn that tennis is fun, they will be far more inclined to make it one of their lifetime sports.
Here are five tennis games for kids that have been used again and again by wise instructors who know how to keep their students engaged.
Tennis Game for Kids #1: Get Out of Jail
This game is for beginner players and advanced beginners. Kids love this game so much that they often ask for it even when they are advanced players, just wait.
The players line up at one end of the court, in a single file line behind the center mark along the baseline. The instructor stands at the net and feeds a ball to the first hitter.
Each child gets a certain number of chances to get a forehand or backhand into the doubles court (or singles, depending on your students’ skill level). If he or she gets one in, he or she is safe. If not, he or she goes to “jail” by going to the other end of the court where he or she will try to catch a ball on a bounce, hit by another player.
If he or she catches a shot, he or she is free from jail and the player who hit the caught shot goes to jail.
When only one player is left on the non-jail side, he or she tries to hit three shots that don’t get caught before she misses three. If he or she succeeds, he or she wins the game. If someone catches one of her shots, it’s a jailbreak and everyone goes free as a new round begins. There are many variations of this game.
Some require players in jail to sit in one spot. Others allow a jailbreak any time a shot is caught. More advanced players should only be given one feed to hit a shot in. Younger players should be allowed out of jail if they simply touch the ball that comes their way. If the jail gets too crowded, you can limit each player to two steps to catch or touch a ball. You can adjust the rules according to your group’s dynamics and skill level. Be sure to keep this fun game moving quickly and also be careful to sweep any loose balls off the court so that those in jail do not slip or fall on them.
Tennis Game for Kids #2: Around the World
Some teachers call this game a drill; it doesn’t matter what it’s called as long as the children have fun.
It is usually included in lists of fun tennis games for kids. Half of the children line up on one baseline, half on the other, both in single file lines behind the center mark. The instructor feeds the first hitter at the front of the line.
The hitter must hit into the singles court, then run to the back of the line at the opposite end of the court, always to the right.
The instructor can then feed the hitter on the opposite side of the court or allow the two teams to continue the rally.
It depends on the skill level of your group. If they are younger and weaker, hit soft shots that they can retrieve.
If they are older and stronger, allow them to continue the rally. Remember that the less instructor involvement in a game, the better.
When a player hits a shot out or misses a shot, he or she is out.
With 1-3 outs (depending on the stringency of your rules), he or she is out of the game. Once two players are left, they no longer have to run around the net, they simply play points (with a feed each time or not) until one of them accumulates 1-3 outs.
Be sure to tell the players at each baseline to give the hitter lots of room to retrieve each shot.
Also, make sure that the running path to the opposite court is free of loose balls. As players are eliminated, they can hit on another court. This game keeps kids moving and alert and improves their fitness level at the same time. It is an all-time favorite tennis game for kids.
Tennis Game for Kids #3: Bouncing Ball Relay
This game is great to teach children racquet control and to improve their hand-eye coordination. It is especially good for young beginners, unlike games found on many lists of tennis games for kids.
Form two equal teams and have players line up single file behind the baseline, facing the net, with at least 10 feet between the 2-3 lines. Place a cone in front of each line, near the net. On “go”, the first player in each line runs around the cone and back to the baseline, bouncing the ball on the ground with the racquet, as in a dribbling basketball drill.
When the first player in each line crosses the baseline upon his return, the second player can take off dribbling. This relay race is won when one team has all of its players across the baseline. With beginner players, keep a watch on those who might lose control of their ball and wander all over the court. Collisions can be avoided with good supervision. If you only have two lines, spread them out as far as you can to avoid such dust-ups. Young players will be gaining all sorts of skills as they yell and scream and have a ball with this game.
Tennis Game for Kids #4: Bull in the Pen
This is another fun tennis game for kids, especially those who are at a beginner level.
Have the players line up in a single file behind the baseline in the doubles alley. The instructor stands at the net on the opposite side and has one player at a time move to the middle of the court. he or she then feeds a ball to that player, either forehand or backhand.
The player who hits the ball over the net and in goes to the back of the line. The player who does not hit a successful shot must stand behind the baseline in the other doubles alley. This area is called the “bull pen” and the last player who remains outside of it wins the game.
Be sure to keep this game moving so that a large number of players does not have to stand in the bull pen, inactive, for too long of a time. Also be careful that your feeds do not venture too far towards the bull pen area, so that players will not take a big swing and smack a few of their friends.
Tennis Game for Kids #5: No-Net Tennis
This game has been used for many years for children who are just picking up a racquet for the first time. After your students have learned to bounce a ball in front of them and hit it, they need to learn how to hit a ball that is coming toward them.
As any player knows, this requires quite a jump in skill level!
The instructor should stand on one sideline and have the students form a line along the opposite sideline. Both instructor and students are on the same side of the court for this drill. The objective is not to hit the ball over the net, it is simply to make solid contact with the ball. The instructor gently feeds a ball to one player at a time.
Have one player step forward and the other children giving him plenty of room to retrieve your feed. After one bounce, each player should try to hit the ball back to you. Let successful players hit another shot back to you, up to a certain limit. Keep track of each player’s high total for consecutive successful shots.
You will find that the children will compete very quickly to have the greatest number of good shot runs. You should limit the highest total to five or so to keep all players engaged in this excellent tennis game for kids.
Why Use Tennis Games For Kids?
The right tennis games for kids can keep young students motivated, engaged and progressing in their skills at a steady rate. The best games both work on skills and produce a lot of yells and screams of joy. With this list of five as a starter, you can keep your students happy and enthused about the great game of tennis.
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