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View Full Version : How young is too young to start?


RobG
07-15-2009, 10:25 AM
I have a 3yo daughter who lives with her mom in Reno, and I commute there a couple of times a month to visit.

My daughter is pretty exceptional in that she's very tall for her age -- 40" and also has exceptional coordination. I'm wondering if I would be starting her too early if I got her a racquet and took her out this weekend to bat some balls around? I'm about to place a TW order, and was going to get her a 21" racquet (which seems the right length for her height) and a pack of the beginner/junior balls.

I don't expect her to be able to do much right away, of course. I'll consider her doing great just to hit a ball over the net from the middle of the service box. She has a pretty good throwing arm for regular balls, but hasn't quite gotten catching down yet.

But I was hoping to maybe introduce her to the concept of hitting a ball with a racquet. I just wonder if it's too early. Like, the Big Wheel I bought her a year ago is now FINALLY getting used. :)

Thoughts?

Rob

cliff
07-15-2009, 12:28 PM
Hi I started playing with my kids from the moment they were babies, play loads of games that help develop her agility balance and co-ordination.

here are some really good articles for teaching young children. Written by a minitennis expert, Mike Barrell they give great advice for all coaches looking to work with young children.

http://www.procomparetennis.net/articles/author/Mike-Barrell

dman72
07-15-2009, 12:32 PM
My 2 and a half year old kid is a giant for his age, and left handed. I take my wife and him out to the courts and I hand him the racquet. I let him hit the ball until he doesn't want to anymore, then he chases the balls around and throws them at me. It's never too early to work on coordination. It always too early to be a pushy lunatic a la Papa Williams.

Although, on the other hand, Agassi's dad pushed him, and in the long run, didn't he make his life better by it? Andre thanked his dad on retirement. Being a pro tennis player isn't a bad life.

plasma
07-15-2009, 12:44 PM
you guys are sooooo blessed to have these wonderful young "prodigies". I have managed tennis camps for 4-17 year olds. The wisdom I was to express has already been posted on this thread.
We ususally start them on court at age 4-5 but we roll balls to babies. That's right...ga ga gooo gooo. It's fun and develops theri brain and hand eye coordination. Just roll a foam ball or any ball to them and let them roll it back...."catch" 101
I would even talk to them while doing it, share stories of tournaments and matches...
when on court drink breaks every 15 minutes, shade, and sunscreen are important, as well as plenty of games, kids at this age loose interest without GAMES!!!! Tennis becomes an excuse for playing games and being a kid...as it should at their age...yay!

RobG
07-15-2009, 12:58 PM
Cool, thanks for all the input! I went ahead and ordered her a racquet; it should be here Friday.

We've been playing ball-rolling games for like 18 mos now... she's quite good at it. Lately, I'll roll them to her (since catching isn't her thing yet) and she'll throw it back to me.

My parents had wanted to start me on tennis back when I was like 6-7, but we ended up moving around a lot, and it never happened. I didn't get started until high school... circa 1984-85. I always felt like I could have been a professional player if I had gotten started early enough.

I have NO intention of pushing my daughter into this. I want her to have fun, and if she WANTS to keep at it, I will help her in any way I can. If she does show an aptitude for it, then I will encourage that without being pushy.

Rob

plasma
07-15-2009, 01:05 PM
age 4-5's wasn't about hitting so much, it's actually super hard to get them to hit a solid ball over the net. Total beginner adults take 5-10 hours of private intense technical instruction just to hit a solid shot and understand the principle... that you don't have to kill every balll. be patient daddios and mommios.
The bridge between rolly games and tennis is standing catch with bouncy balls. It takes a long time for a child to learn how to catch, the ball hits them in the face, they are late, it takes care and love to teach children this age, but this is the best age,
because kids at this age are angels, in the next two years they become kids, they can't take care of themselves yet, enjoy this last blast of their pre-school development, having worked in the most affluetn clubs in the nation and some of the poorest rec centers where shootings were common, the difference between was communication and love, all of the posters on this thread are truly blessed

CharlieB
07-15-2009, 02:22 PM
I started my 11 year old when he was just a baby. I used to roll the ball to him. When he learned how to walk and was able to hold a small racket I (still) rolled the balls to him, he just had to contact with the ball. You develop their motor skills a bit faster. Take it from there, get a couple of foam balls, and follow with mini-tennis balls, they have a blast.

My son, is now the champion in our country in his category and the following one. All kids are different and take sports differently. You need to let kids be kids. They enjoy tennis just as much as football or baseball in the beginning, but later they will define their preference. In the early stages just allow them to have fun anyway they can.

Cheers,

Charlie

tennisdad65
07-15-2009, 03:21 PM
I started my son at 5. He is 7 now and can keep a rally going with me. The better they get, they like it more.

Start off by hand feeding them foam balls to their hips/tummy/chest height. This is the easiest way to teach them the correct fundamentals. I see too many parents rally with 5 year olds and the balls are over their heads or shoulders, leading to bad habits.

ubermeyer
07-15-2009, 05:06 PM
I see 2-3 year old kids a lot, just standing about 2 ft from the net and hitting balls their parents toss at them softly. you could definitely do this with your daughter.