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View Full Version : Best age to start playing for children


Esatsan
01-14-2005, 01:32 PM
I was wondering what the most suitable age for children to start playing tennis is? I know some players (Aggasi, Connors) started very early, like 2 or 3, I read recently that 6 or 7 would be better because at that time they have a longer attention span, and would actually listen to what you tell them to do.

Also, depending on the age of course, which one of the Junior racquets would you recmommend. I noticed that Wilson and Head have a pretty large selection for children.

Thank you.

Bungalo Bill
01-14-2005, 01:40 PM
I was wondering what the most suitable age for children to start playing tennis is? I know some players (Aggasi, Connors) started very early, like 2 or 3, I read recently that 6 or 7 would be better because at that time they have a longer attention span, and would actually listen to what you tell them to do.

Also, depending on the age of course, which one of the Junior racquets would you recmommend. I noticed that Wilson and Head have a pretty large selection for children.

Thank you.

I am afraid to tell you but junior players are starting earlier and earlier. I don't like it but it is what is happening. I like the age of 8 years old. This allows the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to strengthen. I try to encourage other sports like soccer. But with the competitiveness of tennis these days, I see parents starting their kids at 5 sometimes even 4 years old.

Maybe some other coaches can add in.

raftermania
01-14-2005, 01:46 PM
ack, what's next? tennis in the womb???

advantage: fetus

or even earlier, maybe the top two sperm contenders play a game of tennis for fertilization rights???

rafael
01-14-2005, 02:58 PM
As soon as they can hold a racquet and show some eye/hand coordination. I wish my parents had introduced me to tennis at a young age, instead I played baseball as a kid which I would later decide was too boring.

el_mago
01-14-2005, 03:04 PM
As soon as they can hold a racquet and show some eye/hand coordination. I wish my parents had introduced me to tennis at a young age, instead I played baseball as a kid which I would later decide was too boring.
I agree with rafael on all this. I wish that my parents also got me started at a younger age, instead of having me play basketball and baseball.

dozu
01-14-2005, 06:53 PM
definitely at 2 or 3 (my daughter's age), they don't have the physique yet to have "real" training.... I take her to the court and just roll balls back and forth with rackets.... gradually she will be able to hit bouncing balls.

the key is to make them and keep them interested... my daughter is already slight addicted, that's good.

but the most important thing, which I think most parents miss the point on, is that the purpose and expectation should be introducing this game to the kids so that they can enjoy for a lifetime, hopefully at an advanced level 4.5 and above.

Too many parents train their kids as if they are the future number one player.. the real chance is slimmer than winning the lottery.. I think a real talent can be identified very early (around age 6-7), otherwise just let the kids have fun.

finchy
01-14-2005, 07:21 PM
i agree. let them have fun with it first. if they dont like it, dont force them to do anything.

i was forced into piano....i didnt like it at all.... i started just hitting around when i was probly 7-9, but just for fun. if i had actually tried/pushed (not forced) i probably would have liked the sport more to play and get serious about it. sadly, i actually got serious about tennis 7 months ago.

goober
01-14-2005, 08:27 PM
I agree with rafael on all this. I wish that my parents also got me started at a younger age, instead of having me play basketball and baseball.

Yah its funny how it works. I know some kids who started tennis very young but were pushed probably too hard and they don't even play it now as adults. My older brother is a tennis nut and he has started his kids playing at 5. His daughter is now 11 and after 6 years of year-round lessons, she can still barely sustain a rally or get a serve in consistently.

I didn't start tennis till I was 15 because I was playing soccer and basketball. I sure wish I started tennis when I was 5 or 6. It is so easy to say that though in retrospect because I like tennis so much now as an adult.

equinox
01-15-2005, 12:19 AM
I'd say around age 6.

Mahboob Khan
01-15-2005, 09:15 AM
LOL. I am in coaching business well over two decades. And I can tell you on my own authority that a meaningful tennis lesson can only start around the ages of 8-9. Prior to that (4 to 7) children should be trained in the abc of movement (agility, balance, coordination) and that's best achieved through playing other sports -- sports involving similar movement patterns!

My take is, "start a child with tennis when he/she is able to understand and follow instructions".

Roforot
01-17-2005, 05:42 AM
I think Mahboob and BB have given us reasonable suggestions!
I think Tennis Parents can be crazy and I twinged last week when I saw someone bring their 3 yr old to a court while they were hitting with a ball machine. The guy mentioned to his friend that she's getting better at dodging the balls, but probably should be watched!

peter
01-17-2005, 06:37 AM
I'd say around age 6.

I agree. But unless they are *extremely* talented and grown up for their age - forget about any kind of "real" tennis lessons until they are around 8-9. Let them participate in "mini tennis" classes/groups where they can practice coordination and similar stuff - and not the least *play* and have *fun* together with the other kids in the group. I think the fun and play is the most important part of their activity at that age.

My oldest daughter, now 7 years old, has been taking part of a mini tennis group that "practices" 45 minuters (more like 20 minutes practive and 25 minutes warmup and play/fun) a week for a year now and she really likes it. In no small part that is also thanks to the really nice group of trainers that handles the kids - they kids really like them!

(So much that my daughter cheered for her trainer instead of me when he and I met in the first round in a tournament last year - *grmbl* - a match I lost :)

My one year younger doughter finally got a slot in the same group so she also could start participating - she was incredibly proud last Saturday when she ran out on the tennis court the first time aftering having seen her older sister playing for the last year and not being able to participate herself... Btw, I think I can count the number of balls she managed to hit/"return" with her racket on my two thumbs, but she was really good at collecting the balls! :-)


Ah, and definitely have them participate in other sports at the same time. Let *them* find out what sport they like the most!

Bungalo Bill
01-17-2005, 09:55 AM
There will be certain children that will be stronger at a younger age then others. Also, gender plays into the equation of when a child is ready for true tennis lessons. For most children taking the sport seriously and setting goals to become a professional tennis player is unrealistic. These aspirations usually come from the parents and a lot fo them have unrealistic expectations for the child.

If a child is showing coordination at a young age (like 6) and has some mental strength, then iit is ok to encourage the child to become a bit more serious about developing their tennis skills. The coach and the parents need to understand that when a child is being schooled at a young age to compete at a high level in tennis they run the risk of several things while the child is still physically and mentally developing:

1. Injury

2. Burnout

It is important for the coach to monitor the child's development and not be afraid to tell the parents the child needs a break or to not put so much pressure on the child to be the next Agassi. That is one problem I see in today's junior program.

My children have been on the court since they were baby's. I would take them either to tennis events or my wife and I would go "tap" the ball around. All my children have touched, held, swatted, banged, and dropped a racquet. My youngest daughter gets a kick out of me chasing her all over the coourt while her and I try to see who can tap the ball with our racquet first (the ball is just rolling around the court).

My first goal with my children is to make the sport so enjoyable that they will play tennis their entire lives.

My second goal is to allow the sport of tennis to teach them life lessons in success and failure.

My third goal is to allow them to develop and through their enjoyment decide if the sport of tennis is something they want to be serious about.

My fourth goal is to show them other things they can be involved in like surfing, volleyball, soccer, skateboarding, baseball, basketball, etc...

Do I have hopes and dreams that my children become tennis professionals? You bet I do but not at the expense of children losing who they are.

So I agree with starting children early in tennis because they can have a lot of fun with their parents and have an enjoyable outing. Meaningful tennis training starts at an older age and usually is around 8 years old. I have seen younger and they are gettign younger! But if your child is not "getting serious" about tennis - dont force it. Let them have fun, let them enjoy be a kid and goofing off. Tennis may or may not be their aspiration.

Camilio Pascual
01-18-2005, 08:38 AM
Unless you discovered your kid is some kind of tennis ball hitting prodigy, I'd say around age 10 or older, especially if they are doing other sports. Participating in baseball, basketball, soccer, and football - team sports - is much better, psychologically, for developing children. The great asset tennis has is that it can be played as a lifetime sport, so you won't miss out on chances to play it if you don't as a kid. To my tennis-coach grandfather's disappointment, this is why I chose to emphasize baseball and lacrosse over tennis as a kid, as advised by a junior high school coach. He was right. Of course, if your kid is one of the 16 pre-teens in the world capable of becoming #1 in the future tennis world, start her out now and be prepared to act as a tin-type Hitler when the kid loses motivation at times.

Ash_Smith
01-19-2005, 03:41 AM
I'm with Mahboob on this in that the most important things to develop in 4-7 year olds are the ABC's, but I also think that tennis and tennis related games are fantastic for this purpose. We do some groups at my centre for pre-school children, which mainly involve lots of running and jumping around, some throwing and catching stuff and little bits of racket work like balancing and dribbling balls. The kids love it, it gets them interested and I like to think that it will help them in the future with any sport they choose to play, tennis or otherwise.

atatu
01-19-2005, 12:45 PM
I think it varies for each kid. My oldest kid loves tennis, when he was 16 months old I tied a tennis ball to a string and hung it from a tree over the driveway and he could go out a smack three or four balls in a row. He's five now and I try to just keep it fun, we only hit when he asks to go out and we play a lot of games. He's into other sports now, soccer, basketball and gymnastics. My younger son, now 3 and a half, is less coordinated and is more interested in tackling and wrestling, I have a feeling he's going to play football no matter how much I discourage it....

tricky nicky
01-22-2005, 02:20 PM
my daughter started playing mimi tennis at the age of 7.

she has just turned 11.

we live in the uk, where tennis parents are well known for their fanatisism even if the kids dont share it.

I have been to some outdoor tournaments where the parents forget about the tennis and turn it into an applause competition, like who can clap and shout the loudest.

generally the mothers are the worst.

there are large numbers of young children under 12 playing tennis in the uk but many of them drop out between the ages of 12-16.

infact the lta commisioned a report to discover why this was happening.

no disrespect intended to the posters but the trouble is there are far too many people saying kids should be doing this and doing that, like the a b c.

all I would say is " if you start them young - keep it fun "

theres plenty of time for being serious, eeking out a megre living trying to make it on the chanlenger/sats/futures circuits.

one other thing I recommend is forget the slams and the big events ! if your kid is mad about tennis take them to watch the sats/futures , this is where you really learn about how tough and unrewarding tennis is.

attending these types of events should be compulsory for tennis parents many of whom push there children to far too soon without having the faintest idea of what it takes or involves to earn a good living as a tennis pro.

whats it like in the usa elsewhere with regard to parents?

thanks

Bungalo Bill
01-23-2005, 08:49 AM
my daughter started playing mimi tennis at the age of 7.

she has just turned 11.

we live in the uk, where tennis parents are well known for their fanatisism even if the kids dont share it.

I have been to some outdoor tournaments where the parents forget about the tennis and turn it into an applause competition, like who can clap and shout the loudest.

generally the mothers are the worst.

there are large numbers of young children under 12 playing tennis in the uk but many of them drop out between the ages of 12-16.

infact the lta commisioned a report to discover why this was happening.

no disrespect intended to the posters but the trouble is there are far too many people saying kids should be doing this and doing that, like the a b c.

all I would say is " if you start them young - keep it fun "

theres plenty of time for being serious, eeking out a megre living trying to make it on the chanlenger/sats/futures circuits.

one other thing I recommend is forget the slams and the big events ! if your kid is mad about tennis take them to watch the sats/futures , this is where you really learn about how tough and unrewarding tennis is.

attending these types of events should be compulsory for tennis parents many of whom push there children to far too soon without having the faintest idea of what it takes or involves to earn a good living as a tennis pro.

whats it like in the usa elsewhere with regard to parents?

thanks

It is true that it depends on the children and the parents! Everyone has their special timeframe and that is what makes the world go round.

One of the hidden problems facing juniors is dealing with pressure, injuries, and burnout. A lot of times it is the fanaticism of the parents that contribute greatly to a childs issues.

On the other hand, I know and have met a lot of excellent parents that know how to approach sports with their children. So I dont want it to seem like all parents are pushing their children too much or too soon.

I know of several children that act a lot like Nastase, throwing their racquet when they miss, yelling at themselves and sometimes their competition, etc. This is more prevalent then most people think. It is sad as well. Also, this is not necessarily coming from the kid but the pressure the parents put on the kid.

So if you are a parent and want your child to play tennis. Get them to enjoy the game. Have fun for a awhile learning tennis. Give them just enough tennis and success to make them want to come back for more. As the child becomes more and more interested I think it is fine to teach them the finer aspects of competition.

The age of the child will depend on the child. I find that meaningful lessons average around 8 years old.

PHSTennis
01-23-2005, 06:49 PM
I stared at 14.. so did 95% of my tennis team, some of them beating those who start when they were kids, some parents being ptr coaches.. probably forced who knows.

Esatsan
01-24-2005, 01:05 PM
Thank you all for the feedback. My son is almost 22 mo, 3 feet tall and throws the basketball pretty well for his age. Obviously, I still have plenty of time to think about his introduction to tennis.

Bungalo Bill
01-24-2005, 02:08 PM
Thank you all for the feedback. My son is almost 22 mo, 3 feet tall and throws the basketball pretty well for his age. Obviously, I still have plenty of time to think about his introduction to tennis.

Just take him to the courts, buy him a $20 racquet ad roll the ball around and just have a blast with him!

It is the funnest time and you will laugh a lot. Act goofy and let your son simply enjoy the time with his Dad.

Dont try and ovethink if you're doing anything right, just have fun. At that age, enjoyment with his Dad is first and foremost and you can't really do anything wrong in that aspect.

EricEAC
03-20-2008, 08:47 AM
I started my daughter at 18 months. I waited until she got to the age where they start to repeat everything. Then instead of a tennis racquet I got her a ping pong paddle and sanded down the handle a little to fit her hand. Then I would just have her hit things around the house (a chair, the dog, mom, etc). At first she wanted to hold it by the head and not the handle so I would just gently take it away and give it back to her with the handle in her hand. After two days she just grabbed by the handle. Then after a few weeks we progressed into hitting a ball. I tied a string to a stick and taped a ping pong ball to it and dangled it in front of her. She LOVES it.

A few things to remember are:

1. Make it a fun game and she'll bug you to play.
2. Attention spans for little guys are short; when they are done, they are done. Just stop, dont push it.
3. They wont be able to hitting a ball thrown at them for a while. Be patient with your progressions.

I think the best advice given so far on this topic would be to encourage games in which they learn agility, balance and coordination. I coach at the collegiate level and its AMAZING how many kids get into adulthood without BASIC movement skills. Check into Vern Gambeta's books and website, he is a wealth of knowledge on movement training.

Thats my two cents, if anyone has any questions feel free to email me. eric.arrington@eac.edu

Rickson
03-20-2008, 09:05 AM
I was wondering what the most suitable age for children to start playing tennis is? I know some players (Aggasi, Connors) started very early, like 2 or 3, I read recently that 6 or 7 would be better because at that time they have a longer attention span, and would actually listen to what you tell them to do.

Also, depending on the age of course, which one of the Junior racquets would you recmommend. I noticed that Wilson and Head have a pretty large selection for children.

Thank you.

10 is a good age.

tennisdad65
03-20-2008, 09:19 AM
I think 5 is ok to start at. MOST important thing to do is to make it fun for them.

My son who is 5, loves to play tennis ONLY if his friend comes too :) . When his friend comes, they can play tennis for 30-45 minutes. When his friend does not come along, he loses interest quickly and we stop in about 5-15 minutes.

From my experience training two 5 yr old boys: about 2-3 times a week, about 30 minutes each time, is the most tennis a 5 year old boy can handle. They can play soccer a lot longer and do not mind chasing the ball for hours.

tennisdad65
03-20-2008, 09:29 AM
Also, depending on the age of course, which one of the Junior racquets would you recommend. I noticed that Wilson and Head have a pretty large selection for children.

Thank you.

My son is 5 and I bought him a $15 Sponge Bob racquet :)

More important is to start them off with the 4 inch foam balls first.

Then move on to the penn TIP2 or other soft slow bouncing, regular size tennis balls. These balls bounce to the perfect height for them. And the balls are soft so they do not hurt their tiny arms.

Kobble
03-20-2008, 10:28 AM
Here is the crazy, I mean, devoted tennis parent's doctrine.

1. Rule number one: To be a champion, you have to be CRAAAAAZY!

2. There is no subsitute for a healthy beating. Kids must learn there are consequences for their actions. Failure can be like a punch to the gut; show them what failure feels like (Bas Rutten style).

3. If you can't beat 'em, cheat 'em. Teach your kids the art of hooking. That ball is in? Who says?

4. Start your kids as early as possible so you can mold them, shape them, and kick their ***. I'm tired, I want to quit. What was that, your tired, you want me to kick your ass?

The road to Wimbledon awaits. So what are you waiting for?

vinhextreme
03-20-2008, 10:29 AM
me i started playing soccer when i was 8 lol not tennis =|

NotAtTheNet
03-20-2008, 10:37 AM
All I'm concerned with is making my son/daughter love the game so I have a reliable hitting partner well into my twilight years...