In my view, tennis is a great sport for anyone to take up. Even if you’re never going to make it to play for a team or playing for Wimbledon, it’s a great game for socialising. Local parks sometimes have courts, some schools hire theirs out to locals for cheap rates. And the LTA do a lot of work with juniors through the mini tennis training schemes at clubs. (Mini tennis is now named LTA Youth)
Junior tennis membership of clubs varies, but can be less than £20 a year for children to join. Some clubs even let parents chaperone and play with their children at certain sessions so you don’t always have to be family members.
If your children aren’t into contact or team sports, it’s a sport that can be started from age 3-4 in tots classes. Ok, so kids tennis lessons aren’t always cheap – you might pay from £5-8 for a 30-45 minute group lesson depending on the age of the child, or from £7-10 for 1 hour group lessons, but children are learning lots from learning tennis (and playing sport in general).
It’s an individual sport, but they might play doubles, or play for a team, so get some understanding of supporting friends and team mates, as well as playing for themselves.
The Youth/mini tennis levels lets them learn techniques from early on, building knowledge as well as opening up match play opportunities if they want. Compared with when I played back in the late 80s-90s, and there was no real technical training other than learning a couple of grips. And we didn’t have short tennis or mini tennis either, it was straight onto a normal sized court playing with normal tennis balls.
Parental support in tennis
Tennis like many individual sports requires a lot more parental input and support than team sports where the coach is much more responsible for entering teams in leagues and organising them. With kids tennis, while there’s a coach, even if there’s a team, parents may need to be the lead captain.
For individual tournaments, it’s mostly parents that will do the entering and getting the child there, supporting them through it. Parents might not be tennis experts, but they need to have a certain understanding of how the system works and what to do to ensure their child gets the opportunities outside of coaching and lessons, to progress in the way they want.
Key posts on children’s tennis
For those whose children have started playing mini tennis or are thinking of signing their children up for tennis lessons – for social reasons, fitness, or for competitions, find below plenty of articles on kids tennis.
Beginners guide to mini tennis – Youth tennis, what’s it all about and how does it work
What does tennis (and sport) give to children? – the benefits of playing
Parents in sport learnings and webinar – my experience of webinar learning from the LTA and other good resources
Team tennis – starting out playing in a team, and learning to work with and support others.
Being team captain – what does it entail for parents at mini red
Moving up to mini orange tennis – the initial move up from mini red to mini orange
Are private lessons worth it? – a look at what they can add to group lessons
Tennis just for fun – after a bad tournament, the thought process behind a change in strategy and refusals to play tournaments
Tennis activities for the whole family – a bit of fun for all ages, with a tennis theme
Find out more at the LTA website. To get the most from children’s tennis, it’s worth signing children up to be LTA members. It’s free for under 10s (ie, those playing mini tennis), and along with discounts on tennis kit, they’ll be able to get a rating once they start playing matches, enter matches and find out more about supporting children who play.
If you can’t find answers to your questions, let me know in the comments or send me a message and I’ll hopefully be able to help.