Help in instruction of a young beginner
I might be teaching a young (7-8 year old) boy in the near future.
He's a complete beginner, and I was hoping to get some tips and possible drills/ things to definitely remember to show him during the first few lessons.
For example, proper stance, grip, etc.
Any good beginner games are also welcome (such as mini-tennis).
I guess my general question would be, what things should I focus on teaching such a young player?
Please feel free to offer any advice/experience you may have as well!
Thanks in advance! :)
I'd show him a forehand grip and a backhand grip, but don't spend too much time on it at first. Just make sure his hands are somewhere in the general vicinity of where they should be. Many beginners don't even hold the right part of the handle. Keep his hands near the butt, unless his racquet is too long or heavy for him. Spend more time on the stroke itself. Make sure he turns sideways, perpendicular to the net, and takes the racquet back low below the path of the ball. Try and emphasize hitting the ball out in front, (start him off sideways, tell him to hit the ball out by his front foot) and make sure the follow through comes up nice and high at the end. You're gonna have to just get a feel for the kid. If you can sense that he's really into learning this stuff, you can get more technical and pound the details in a bit more. The challenge is the keep the kid entertained and having fun. If they aren't having fun, they won't focus/listen, and won't retain anything you say!
Something he might have some fun with is...if you start him out in ready position near the middle of the baseline (or move him forward if he can't hit it that far), make him run to one side and hit a forehand...then make him run to the middle, then to the other side. You're going to want to toss him the balls, don't hit them to him, they'll come too fast most likely.
say bounce when it bounces ...... and hit when you hit it
While some will promote letting kids use what ever feels comfortable to them, (and emphasize having "fun"), you can actually challenge kids as young as 5 or 6 to learn the right grips, footwork and swing patterns that will give the kid a chance to learn tennis within the parameters of solid form. Instead of teaching him or her methods that will perpetually stagnate them (because most comfortable form for most kids and adults for that matter, do not lead to more prolific and effective shots and/or quality play), teach them methods just as all other sports do: teach them the right way with tools to help them quickly master the more uncomfortable or unfamiliar methods.
Don't fall into the ever-more-common philosophy of lowering the standards just to avoid challenging the kids. They are very resilient...which is why sports like Karate, Gymnastics, Dance, Golf and other sports that require...no, demand, more discipline, are doing so much better in terms of attracting kids to their program in many areas.
I won't get into the multitude of coaching techniques, drills, learning strategies, etc., that I have developed in my own 35 years of teaching, but I will say at least don't dumb tennis down in fear of losing kids or making it too hard. You can make learning great tennis a load of fun.
I should also plug my soon to be released book, COACHING MASTERY, (due out in late October. It has over 350 pages, over 300 photographs, and discusses everything about teaching, coaching and, for tennis parents, how to properly train their own kids without leading them down the wrong path or ruining the parent/child relationship.
Hope this gives you some direction. Please check out my series I mentioned as it has been very widely recognized (at least from the vast amount of e-mails I have received from coaches, teachers, and parents from around the globe) that there is some valuable things to help you in your teaching.
Best of luck in to you and your students.
Well today was the first lesson, and I got to know the kid's basic skill level. Also, it turns out the child is six.
I think he definitely has potential, but he still has a lot of consistency issues. The main thing I taught him today were grips (forehand and two handed backhand), proper takeback (early preparation), and follow through over the shoulder. I also told him to constantly watch the ball and make sure he knows where it is.
He seems to be progressing well, but sometimes it seems like he's just waving the racket in the direction of the ball and completely missing it because the head goes into a horizontal position. Any tips on how to make sure he impacts the ball properly (and also in front of his body)? Maybe this means that the racket is too heavy/big for him?
Once we're at the point that he can hit pretty consistently, I'm going to play a few games with him, to make it more interesting.
Thanks again for everyone's help!
again......... bounce~~~~~~~ hit
watch the ball almost never works, you have to trick them in to watching the ball.
If he's having consitency issues, use a softer ball. If he hits well, dont drop down to a sponge ball though. Also he may need a smaller/lighter racquet.
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