How to teach a 6 yr. old

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Ben42, Sep 10, 2004.

  1. Ben42

    Ben42 Semi-Pro

    Feb 19, 2004
    My son is just about to turn 6 and I’m wondering about a few things. Maybe some of you who’ve taught kids just starting out can give me some insight.

    He likes to go to the courts with me, so I take him once a week or so for about ½ hour. He can hit when I feed him balls, but basically hits baseball style off both sides. I’ve tried getting him to hit one-handed off the forehand side, and to stop switching hands when he hits two-handed off both, but he wants to do things his way.

    Up until now I’ve figured I’d rather he just do it his way and enjoy hitting. I don’t want to sour him on playing by being rigid. But I’m wondering at what point I should try harder to get him playing a little more “standard.” If he continues on this way I suspect he’ll get more frustrated when he can’t rally and it will be harder to switch because he will have developed the habit of hitting baseball style.

    Any insights?
  2. ucd_ace

    ucd_ace Semi-Pro

    Feb 23, 2004
    From what I've read, normally you'd wait until he was around 8 to start working on technique and right now the best thing for him to do is have fun so he doesn't get sick of the game and to focus on contact. You could try having him practice serving... well, throwing the ball up and hitting it. When I play with my 6 year old cousin I just play with her without a net just hitting the ball back and forth.
  3. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    I began teaching my daughter at 6 years old. She has not fully engaged in tennis and I dont push it either. I tell my daughter that I really dont care if she participates in tennis, but she needs to participate in at least one sport of her choice.

    When I teach kids, it is very simple. The racquet is held in the low position before the forward swing. I do not teach the loop until they get more coordinated. I feed them a ball, and then they hit the ball and freeze for 4 seconds with their racquet high and out towards the target. I do not teach the followthough over the shoulder for several reasons.

    If I teach the racquet over the shoulders too early, they will have a tendancy to thrash at the ball and they develop a short swing and dont learn how to hit out on the ball. I want them to develop a smooth forward swing that finishes high. I also have them step out while they hit the ball while I count 1, 2, 3, 4 as they hold their balance.

    The onehanded backhand is very hard to teach at that early of an age simply because the muscles of a childs forearms are very underdeveloped. You will notice a lot of floppyness in their swings. This is normal because they do not have the strength in their forearms to hold the racquet properly at times during the forward swing. As a coach you need to be patient with that.

    After they hit some static forehands, I have them incorporate some movement like alternating backhands and forehands. I keep the ball within hitting range but far enough away from them were they have to regain a centered position and hold the racquet in ready position before stepping out to hit the ext ball. There is more but I cant explain them on this post.

    One last thing, make sure you keep a keen eye on their grips. Always check to see that they remain in the correct grip before hitting the ball. Kids tend to move their hand around the grip could change from ball to ball. Teach them to have a laid back fixed wrist on the forehand as the swing as well.

    The grips I tend to have them in is the Eastern forehand grip, and for the backhand a continental/eastern forehand combination.
  4. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

    Jul 13, 2004
    Not an easy task teaching any small child how to hit a ball. Some, for whatever reason, seem to be able to do it but for most it is almost impossible.

    I would assume that you are using a childs racquet and that your advising him to choke up to at least the top of the grip at first. See if you can get across the idea of just catching the ball on the strings and then throwing it back off the racquet.

    A couple of ideas that work are using a "tee" used to teach kids how to hit a baseball. This thing allows him to at least swing at a fixed object at first and it won't damage the racquet.

    Another thing is to use "nerf" type balls, even if they are larger than a tennis ball - all your trying to do is keep his attention long enough to get a few of the basics.

    Keep the sessions very short - 15 minutes or so --- stop before he wants to stop so he'll want to come back. Invent games like just stacking balls or getting point for hitting the ball over the net and so forth.

    The most important thing is not to push him and not to expect too much. KEEP IT FUN

    I have seen several kids play reasonably well before ten but its unusual.
  5. matchpoints

    matchpoints Professional

    Feb 21, 2004
    Billings, MT
    I'm trying to teach my 6 year old nephew to play also but man that boy has no hand eye coordination :) but he does love to play.

    We have a ten year old and it scares me to watch him play. The guy hits harder then most older kids and has great form and darn good athlete. I talked to his father and supposedly, him and his brother have been playing since they were 5 and competing soon after. Oh yah, they are both #1 in the nation in their age groups and top 10 in the next age group. Must be nice to have good genes. Makes me wonder if they'll ever burn out.
  6. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

    Feb 20, 2004
    Very important subject and controversial subject because parents think that their 5 or 6 years olds can right away start with tennis technique. The problem is if emphasis is more on tennis technique then other areas such as ABC of movement (agility, balance, coordination) will lag behind. The question is at this age which activities can be taught effectively and joyfully?

    Taught easily:

    ABC of movement; playing mini soccer, mini basketball, mini baseball, etc; any game or activity which will make them move and have fun.

    Teaching tennis technique:

    Very difficult. Basically you are putting very young children in situations in which they fail. And, because of their ability at this stage, you may be imposing certain technique on them such as double handed forehand, double-handed backhand.

    And don't forget unlike swimming and gymnastics, tennis is a late recruitment sport.

    Here is program for your six-eight years old:

    % Tennis: Non-Tennis: 30:70 (less tennis, more other things)

    Physical conditioning/general coordination development:

    -- participation in many different sports;

    -- Try to develop all-round coordination

    -- Approx: 2/1/2 h/week.

    Tactical-Technical development training:

    -- Co-operate with the partner;

    -- Keep ball in play

    -- Approx: 1/1/2 h/week.

    Competition and competitive training:

    -- Mini-tennis team competition.

    Coaching implications:

    -- High amount of variety, fun, free play and creativity.

    Please do not put your young kids in situations in which they fail.
  7. matchpoints

    matchpoints Professional

    Feb 21, 2004
    Billings, MT
    Thanks MK,
    At this point my nephew is in a soccer league as well and bikes alot.
    I'll try your program and see how it goes.

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