Fun tennis drills are aimed at kids and juniors learning how to play tennis. Kids can benefit from specific fun tennis drills designed to teach them the fundamentals of tennis helping kids solidify their tennis basics.
There are many benefits of having fun tennis drills for kids, in order to help them learn tennis at a young age.
It’s essential that fun and enjoyment are at the centre of learning for any child who is introduced to the game, and one key area that ensures kids have a fun time in their tennis development is through tennis drills and games.
Many successful professional tennis players started to learn tennis at a very young age even at 2-3 years old, so the earlier a child can start to swing a racquet and develop a love for the game the better!
We’ve included some fun drills to use below that will keep kids engaged when learning how to play tennis.
Note: due to legal and privacy issues, the kids’ drills are filmed with adults. However, all these drills have been used extensively and successfully in kids’ tennis lessons.
Fun Tennis Drills #1: Hungry Crocodile
One of the best ways to introduce kids to striking the ball is through learning the volley.
Hungry Crocodile is a great volley game for a group of young kids. The coach should line the kids up next to the net, firstly showing them the correct volley technique.
Coaches generally have a few different ways to teach the volley, but for very young kids we find it easiest to teach them as if they were giving the ball a “high five”.
This “high five” should begin on the forehand volley and then once they have mastered that they can use two hands to hit a backhand volley.
If the kids are older they can learn to hit with a continental ‘hammer’ grip while using their non-hitting hand to guide the racquet as they hold the throat of the racquet.
In Hungry Crocodile the kids will line up next to the net and the coach will randomly feed to each player. By randomly feeding to each player the coach ensures that each child is attentive, alert and in ready position as they never know when they’ll receive a feed.
If a player makes a mistake they’ll lose a limb. The first limb to go is their non-hitting hand, the 2nd limb is one leg whereby they’ll go down on one knee, the 3rd limb is their other leg which will have them kneeling on the ground and finally the last mistake will result in them being eaten by the Crocodile and losing the game.
If a child has lost a limb and they successfully hit the shot back in they’ll be able to regrow that limb.
The last player standing who hasn’t been eaten by the crocodile wins the game.
Fun Tennis Drills #2: Shot and Bounce Selection
Shot and bounce selection has two players working together. One player will be throwing a ball to their partner who has a racquet in their hand ready to hit a shot.
The player throwing the ball will be calling out a shot (such as forehand, backhand or volley) and a number.
The shot they call out as they throw the ball will be the shot the player must hit, e.g. forehand. The number they call out will represent how many times the ball can bounce before the player can catch it e.g. 2.
If the thrower calls out “backhand one” and their partner hits a backhand over the net and it bounces once before the thrower catches it, then the pairing receives one point.
If they’re multiple kids playing then the players can split up into pairs and compete against each other.
The pairing that reaches 7 points first wins.
Fun Tennis Drills #3: Leopard Spots
Leopard Spots works on shot consistency and accuracy for kids. Kids will pair up, and will rally against their partners on a modified court setting using modified balls, nets, racquets and court sizes dependent upon their level. The coach/parent will place hula-hoops on the court, which the boys and girls as they rally will aim for. Every time a player wins a rally they will win a point. On top of this every time a player hits a shot and it lands in one of the hoops they will receive a point. Therefore a player can hit a shot and win a point during the rally by landing the ball inside a hoop. The coach should focus on teaching the players consistency and accuracy by using correct technique. The basics are key, encourage kids to come under the ball going low to high (shoelaces to shoulder is an analogy you can use). Other important basic fundamentals are to teach players to step-down and turn side on as they hit the ball, as well as to always get back into a ready-position with their feet moving ready to split-step before moving to the ball.
Fun Tennis Drills #4: Throw Hit and Catch
One great way we’ve found to work on technique as well as consistency and accuracy with kids, particularly in a group setting is through the game “Throw Hit and Catch”. Players will split up into pairs and will work with a partner throwing and hitting a shot to one another. One player will be underarm throwing a ball to their partner (focusing on similar technique to a forehand e.g. getting side on, and going low to high). The other player will be hitting the shot back to their partner. As an underarm throw is generally slow it allows a child time to work on getting in the right position and hitting with good technique. While the underarm throw component is an important skill to learn before a player can hit an effective groundstroke. The catch will also help with basic hand-eye coordination. It’s important that the coach progresses and regresses in this drill depending on the skill level of the players. Progressions can be to have the players move backwards so that they are further away from each other, or have the hitting player hit more backhands (or whatever is their weakest shot). Regressions could be simply to have the players move closer together, or even in its most basic form for really young players a coach/parent could have the throwing player roll the ball along the ground so that it is rolling and have their partner hit the ball back along the ground.
A Couple of Keys for Coaching Kids
There are hurdles to overcome when learning tennis at a young age, though with the right knowledge and understanding of how children learn, tennis can become a much easier sport to master. Coaches and parents need to be aware of the short attention spans young children have, therefore any teaching must be fun, engaging and enjoyable. Learning must be a source of interest and adventure for children. Progression and regression in all drills and games is a must. Progression is the process of making a drill more difficult, in the case of kids who find the activity easy to complete, ensuring a kid doesn’t become bored of the game because they don’t find it a challenge. Regression is making a drill easier for kids who are finding it too challenging. If a child can’t complete an activity such as hitting a ball over the net that’s fed to them then they’ll eventually lose hope and feel discouraged. This results in slower learning, and even worse kids can lose interest in the game as fun diminishes. A simple regression would be to move the boy or girl closer to the net to hit the shot over, or perhaps lowering the net, or even making the feed even easier to hit by placing it in their strike zone.
It’s important that the coach/parent provides the right environment to teach kids. A fun level of intensity and excitement are key, as well as plenty of encouragement that builds the boys and girls up so that they feel an ongoing sense of accomplishment. Compared to most sports tennis is a tricky sport to learn, so the more the boys and girls can feel that they are improving the more fun and enjoyment they’ll have on the tennis court. Again it must be stressed that one of the key elements to all drills, especially when it comes to kids is progression and regression. If things are easy, add progressions (make the drill more challenging), and if the drill is too difficult then add regressions (make the drill easier).
And most importantly have fun!
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Fun Tennis Drills #1: Around the World
This fun tennis drill is good for more experienced beginner children. To accomplish the drill, two groups with equal number of children must be formed. We call these groups as Group A and group B. Each group forms a line behind each baseline of the court. The instructor feeds the ball to the first student in the line (say group A). The student then hits the ball and prints towards the other side of the court and stands behind the last student of group B.
The instructor then feeds another ball to the first student is group B and the student sprints towards the other side of the court and stands behind the last student of group A. If a student misses a hit, he or she is considered out. The drill continues with the same pattern and the last standing student is the winner.
Fun Tennis Drills #2: Fill the Court
This fun tennis drill needs two groups of students (A and B). Same as the above fun tennis drill, each group align themselves behind the baseline in each side of the court. The instructor stands at the net post and feeds the ball to the first student of group A, the student then starts the play by hitting the ball towards the first student of group B, then the first student in group B returns. If the ball is good, the succeeding student plays the next ball but if one student misses he or she has to stand behind the last student of his/her group and wait for his/her next turn. The group that finishes first (all members are able to hit good ball) is the winner.
Fun Tennis Drills #3: Around the World Jabba the Hut
Just like the first two fun tennis drills, this drill also needs two groups (A and B) of students. However, this time each group must have three members each. One of the students from each group kneels down at the T part (the point where the end of the center service line intersects with the service line) of the each court.
Other members of the team stand behind the baseline. The two groups start to rally and if during the course of the play one of the kneeling student hits a good ball; his or her team wins three points. The points are given even if the team (of the kneeling student who hit a good ball) misses the point in the end. The team that earns 21 points each is declared as the winner.
Fun Tennis Drills #4: Hit and Run
This is one of the most interesting fun tennis drills especially for kids. This drill helps the kids or beginners to get to the ball, hit the ball and recover to the right spot of the court and be ready for the next shot. It is very common for beginners to be out of position when their opponent’s ball hit his/her courts.
This drill helps them to correct the problem. This drill will be done on one side of the court. The instructor stands on one end of the half court while the student stands in the middle of the half court. The instructor feeds the ball towards the student in any directions (in front, left and right side or behind); the student then returns the ball and tries to recover to his or her original position as quickly as possible. The drill continues where the instructor hits the ball in different directions.
Fun Tennis Drills #5: Simon Says
This drill is of one of the fun tennis drills that teach the learners the different tennis strokes and terminologies. The students need to have their own rackets and then stand on the baseline. The students must be spaced out so that they won’t hit each other when they execute the full racket swing. The instructor on one hand stands near the net.
The instructor says, ‘Simon says’ and mention name the stroke (forehand, backhand or overhead) he/she wants the student to execute and make sure that all the students correctly execute the stroke. To make this drill an enjoyable one, the instructor can say, ‘Simon Says freeze’ and check the students’ executions and eliminate those who are wrong in their executions. The last standing student is the winner.
Fun Tennis Drills #6: Four Square
This fun tennis drill does not involve so much physical activities such as running. It is aims to develop the students hand skills and quickness. Many tennis instructors like include this fun tennis drill in addition to the other fun tennis drills in their tennis classes because it is fun and very interesting.
This tennis drill needs four students who position themselves on each of the service box (center). This drill is accomplished by hitting the ball before it bounces the ground.
To start this fun tennis drill, any student can feed the ball to the other student and the receiving student must hit the ball to any of the student before it bounces the ball. There is no particular order as to whom to hit the ball, thus each student can hit the ball to any of the students. To make the drill more interesting, each player should hit the ball as far as possible from the student (e.g. corner of the service box) for a difficult return. Each student can also surprise one another by disguising their shots. The student with the least error is declared as the winner.
Fun Tennis Drills #7: Ring around the Rosie
This is one of the fun tennis drills that help to develops the students tennis strokes and hand quickness. At least three students have to stand around the instructor. Just like the other fun tennis drills, the more students there are the merrier the drill will be. To start the drill, the instructor feeds the ball to any of the student and the receiver tries to hit the ball towards the instructor after it bounces from the ground.
The instructor then hits the ball again to another student. If a student misses a hit, he or she is out of the drill and has to sit down. Any ball that does not bounces in front of the instructor is considered a miss hit. Like for example if the ball lands behind the instructor or lands to other student’s front, the ball is considered as a miss hit. The last standing student is declared as the winner.
Fun Tennis Drills #8: Go to Bed
This is one of the tennis fun drills that help the student develop their hand-eye coordination, accuracy and agility. This drill does not need particular number of students or a particular number of groups. To accomplish this series of fun tennis drills, the instructor positioned himself or herself on one side of the court while the student stands on the other side.
To make this drill easier for very young students, they can stand on the T section (please refer above for description) of the court. The instructor feeds the ball and the student has to return it to the other side of the net (or towards the instructor) and the ball must land on the singles court. Every time the student misses a return, he or she yawns and if the yawn reaches to four he ‘falls asleep’.
If the student misses again, he or she has to go bed (which is the opposite side of the court). This means that the student has to run towards the other side of the court after five misses. He or she can only wake up and go back to the other side of the court if he or she is able to catch another student’s ball after its first bounce from the ground.