As a single parent that tries to do his best, I find myself having to figure out novel ways to provide experiences for my kids as I simply do not have the money to send them to lots of exciting clubs to learn new things. So, this summer I find myself trying to put together a budget kids tennis lesson. Its a challenge to figure out how to go about getting my two young kids to have some fun, learn something new, outdoors with future pleasure value and with a budget.
Background to this little activity
I have played a bit of tennis over the last weeks, I bought some rackets and regular balls for my kids, cheap really and with a view to them using over the next years. So far, their experience was quite mixed. My 8 year old girl had no interest in learning since her first attempts involved swinging and missing. My boy, however, was quite keen having bashed the balls about the place.
- 1 x blue 21″ Slazenger junior at £8 (6 year old boy’s)
- 1 x red 25″ Slazenger junior £8(9 year old girl’s)
- 3 x red learner balls £4
- Court at a local park – free
- TOTAL = £20
1. Get some proper learner balls
Wow! I did not expect this to be such a big deal, but having the right balls really helped. Now, by right, I mean red mini tennis balls similar to these:
They are really very squish, they travel slowly in the air, they feel something between a foam ball and a tennis ball and they bounce softly and slowly, so very easy for the kids to hit them. And that’s exactly what happened! With these balls my girl was hitting 90% of the time, her confidence grew and she began to really engage with it.
2. Planning a session
I found two things that seemed cool as a starting point; something fun and something a bit technical. The fun activity was a kind of hockey game with their rackets:
The second thing was technical and involved getting a good technique for a forehand:
The idea was to get them some technique early. My experience of the forehand in practice was that it was too much in one go for them to learn. We started with 2 o’clock – look through the window – and worked on that until they had the form right. Then I introduced the stretch to the sky – again this took some practice. I was kind of calling out to them, “2 O’clock… reach for the sky”. After around 5 minutes of this, we moved on to catching the racket, so in the end I was calling out to them “2 o’clock… sky…catch”.
They improved massively in 30 minutes, my girl was so pumped up to have done so much better. My boy found it harder to grasp the techniques in one go, but, the following day he asked my first thing in the morning if we could go do tennis again.
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