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View Full Version : What is the youngest age to learn tennis?


crystal_clear
02-03-2009, 04:36 PM
I played with a 12 years old girl yesterday. She is less than 5' and she has everything, good first serve, forehand, backhand, slice, drop shots... Her father taught her to play tennis when she was 22 months.

I am her fan now.

It is never too late to improve my tennis skills.

oneguy21
02-03-2009, 05:12 PM
Starting to play tennis too late is my single biggest regret. Had I started when I was 5-7, I would've had chances at Div. 1 universities or even the pro tour, but I started at 13 years old.

I really want to play for NYU tennis (div. 3), but I'll have to see.

SourStraws
02-03-2009, 06:02 PM
Starting to play tennis too late is my single biggest regret. Had I started when I was 5-7, I would've had chances at Div. 1 universities or even the pro tour, but I started at 13 years old.

I really want to play for NYU tennis (div. 3), but I'll have to see.

lol.... I started when I was 15.... Im even more worse off.... Just keep pushing man.... Good luck!

I guess when you can pick up a racquet is when you're able to start.... The younger the better I suppose.... But I suppose starting later has gotten me more motivation to be the best I can be.... It depends.... When you're adolescent, you really either get to appreciate something because it's been there your whole life or loathe it for desire of variety.... So I guess starting Too early would have its drawbacks depending on the person.... If you start later, just be prepared to work that much harder


S.S.

SFrazeur
02-03-2009, 06:19 PM
They can begin learning the fundamentals of tracking/sending/receiving fairly early on. Four is the youngest I will teach. Five is a great age along with any age.

-SF

BU-Tennis
02-03-2009, 06:49 PM
I honestly believe that nothing is truly garnered from starting below 10 years old that is super important to tennis specific skills. This time is used to develop motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and overall athletic ability which you can learn from any sport. When have you seen a 10 year old that could really do something well with the ball? (besides videos of the best pros in the world, agassi is very unique and would have been a pro if he had started at 3 or 13, superior talent and ability) Sure you can learn basic form but the goods in tennis come from physical maturiy.

I didn't start playing tennis until my sophomore year in high school when I was almost 16. I hit around on my houses roof, letting the ball roll off and then i'd hit it back up. Not much skill involved I just learned to hit the ball in the center of the racquet. It only took me a few months when I really started to play to develop decent ground strokes, serve, etc. comparable to any other 10 year old, plus I could hit harder because of my physical ability. With a few months of hard work you can catch up and have good rally strokes and serve.

I am not saying that starting young is bad but I hate that people who pick up tennis at 13, 14, 15, or even 16 think that they can't get good enough to play for a decent college team or enjoy some time playing junior tournaments. I know that if I would have started at the age of 5 that I wouldn't be any better than I am today, given that I receive the same amount of coaching which has been minimal.

The best thing that can happen if you start early is you go to tournaments, and a world class coach sees you and starts training you and you have plenty of opportunities to to get better and travel to tournaments.

TennisCoachFLA
02-03-2009, 07:04 PM
It takes a combination of natural talent and an early start. Agassi, Sampras, Federer had both....natural talent and the needed early start.

If a person does not have talent, the early start will not make them a pro.

But had Agassi picked up a racquet at 13 instead of 2, he would not have reached the level he did. Research has shown that the required synaptic connections must be formed before age 8-9. Agassi would have been a good player starting at 13, but not one of the all time greats.

crystal_clear
02-03-2009, 07:54 PM
I know that if I would have started at the age of 5 that I wouldn't be any better than I am today, given that I receive the same amount of coaching which has been minimal.
.


If you would have started at 5, it would be likely you would have a coach then. It makes big difference.

Djokovicfan4life
02-03-2009, 07:59 PM
Yes, the actual time itself says nothing. There are plenty of players who have played for 30 years and more or less stayed stagnant throughout their tennis experience. Sad, but true.

It's the constant prodding and pushing the kid to be the best that forces him to improve in the end.

crystal_clear
02-03-2009, 08:10 PM
How come I can't edit my own post?

BU-Tennis
02-03-2009, 09:08 PM
But had Agassi picked up a racquet at 13 instead of 2, he would not have reached the level he did. Research has shown that the required synaptic connections must be formed before age 8-9. Agassi would have been a good player starting at 13, but not one of the all time greats.

What type of synaptic connections? You mean learning how to hit the ball, that is completely false. We learn plenty of things throughout our life, and while we get older our ability to learn does decrease it isn't that significant between 8 and 13. Any sport that requires you to use hand-eye coordination builds these connections the same as playing tennis.

Bud
02-03-2009, 11:19 PM
How come I can't edit my own post?

Your post count is too low.

Nellie
02-04-2009, 12:18 PM
plenty of people claim to start kids at a young age. I will tell from experiance that you have to wait until a kid is ready. I had a racquet for my kid when he was three, but he had no concept of eye-hand coordination. If I tossed him a ball, it would just hit him and cause him to go off crying. So, I rolled him balls to work on his coordination, and in the meanwhile, he played soccer to develop athlecism. Now, at 7, the kid has good developing skills with volleys and groundstrokes.

Djokovicfan4life
02-04-2009, 12:26 PM
plenty of people claim to start kids at a young age. I will tell from experiance that you have to wait until a kid is ready. I had a racquet for my kid when he was three, but he had no concept of eye-hand coordination. If I tossed him a ball, it would just hit him and cause him to go off crying. So, I rolled him balls to work on his coordination, and in the meanwhile, he played soccer to develop athlecism. Now, at 7, the kid has good developing skills with volleys and groundstrokes.

This is great stuff. There is far too much emphasis on talent when it comes to tennis. More often than not it's either an excuse not to try because the player feels that they're simply incompetent, or an excuse for not putting in the hard yards because of the natural talent that has carried, but can only take them to a certain point.

Matt

Tomek_tennis
02-04-2009, 12:37 PM
I am teaching kids at the age of 5. Lots of fun games, very light racquets and soft balls... Some kida are ready earlier, some a bit later... With those not ready yet, you just teach catching balls, throwing, running etc.

Tennisman912
02-04-2009, 07:33 PM
I would say around 5 is about as young as you can go. By then they should have some coordination and understanding of what is going on. It would be very rare for child to have the motor skills and desire to want to spend much time at it before then. I wish I would have started then.

mental midget
02-05-2009, 05:24 AM
It takes a combination of natural talent and an early start. Agassi, Sampras, Federer had both....natural talent and the needed early start.

If a person does not have talent, the early start will not make them a pro.

But had Agassi picked up a racquet at 13 instead of 2, he would not have reached the level he did. Research has shown that the required synaptic connections must be formed before age 8-9. Agassi would have been a good player starting at 13, but not one of the all time greats.

pretty sure jim courier didn't start playing until 13 or 14 years old, but regardless, i'd consider this an outrageous exception. early start is pretty essential.

bigfoot910
02-05-2009, 07:26 AM
You can really learn to play at any age and do well... Obviously an earlier start (5-7) will give you more years to hit those extra balls (the problem is burnout if a parent/coach pushes too hard).

The earliest that I have worked with as a coach is 4 years old, this is a very fun "practice", never more than 30 minutes (with a large group of kids), just encouraging every time they hit (or catch)a ball that is dropped or rolled to them. You can play a lot of games with them to develop hand/eye, but it must always be in the form of a game, to help the kids associate tennis with fun...not work.

ckthegreek
02-07-2009, 09:42 AM
Let's put it this way... By 12 you need to be technically perfect: FH, BH, Serve, Drive volleys... the lot.

You then have 4-6 years to work on tactics, psychology and the physical side.

CoachingMastery
02-07-2009, 10:08 AM
Let me comment from experience in training lots of kids (read over 1500)...

The most important thing you can do with very young kids is two specific ideas: one which has been touched upon by others, that is developing hand-eye coordination, movement and tracking skills.

But the other one is the one that too many pros, parents and coaches fail at: they try to toss balls and hit balls with a racquet--and worse yet, on a tennis court, too early.

Because of the unfamiliarity of young kids to use strokes that don't require strength, they tend to use very poor technique to get the ball over the net because of this perception. Parents especially believe if they toss thousands of balls to their kid, that somehow through attrition the kid will develop strokes. No, they develop bad habits in attempting to get the ball "over the net"...on top of which, the parents reward the outcome instead of the stroke pattern.

Take away the net, the court and even the balls. Spend no more than 5 minutes a week in establishing good stroke mechanics without the distraction of hitting a moving ball. Using the PracticeHit is remarkable for this. When my daughter was 5, we spent no more than 20 total minutes over the course of six months, just showing her the footwork, swing pattern, hold and balance of hitting this stationary ball (that swings back and forth on a shaft.) Since the ball doesn't go anywhere, the child is not going to be concerned with where it is going and can focus on the stroke feel and establish the stroke pattern. When my daughter was 7, we went to the court and she had perfect strokes. The only thing at that point we worked on was the timing and aim, something that is easy to build on once the stroke is established.

In addition, we worked on tossing bean bags to her racquet, holding the continental grip and learning to meet the bag instead of swinging at a moving ball. This is the absolute best drill when working on developing volleys. At 10 years of age, my daugher has far better volleys than most adults and even better than some of the college players here in town.

You can teach scoring by tossing a stuffed animal or bean bag and scoring each toss caught. My daughter knew how to keep tennis score by the first day we did this and she worked on her hand eye coordination in the process. Also, this drill can be taylored to be harder or easier, thereby you can help the youngster learn to "come from behind" by helping them catch easier tosses if they are behind.

All these and more are outlined, of course, in my book Coaching Mastery. The fact that most of my students over the course of 35 years teaching, possessed average athleticism, yet most all reached high levels of skill with many becoming top-ranked players. This pattern of teaching allows kids to get as good as they want, allows a fun way to learn tennis young without burning out, and those who want to reach top levels have the best chance to do so.

By the way, my daughter also learned to play golf this way and has an equally good golf game. You can see her tennis on my series of articles called "Training an 8-year old" on TennisOne.

Hope this helps some understand what you can do (and what you probably should avoid doing!) with kids.

Djokovicfan4life
02-07-2009, 10:28 AM
The womb........

Dreamer
02-07-2009, 10:52 AM
My friends nephew is 18 months old and he picked up a tennis racquet in the house and put a volley ball on it's center and grabbed the racquet to roll it off.

If he becomes great we're definitely saying he played tennis since 1 years old haha.