Have you ever wondered why kids learn tennis so quickly? Or have you ever wondered why their strokes look so smooth and effortless after seemingly no time at all?
A big reason for this is that tennis strokes are usually taught to children using an analytical approach – breaking strokes down into parts, learning them separately, and then putting them together in a natural and fluid motion. This technique is especially great for children, who are still developing and can absorb information very efficiently and synthesize this technique into a fluid and natural manner.
What are some other reasons kids can pick up tennis so quickly?
- Kids want to move in the most natural and comfortable way – their bodies want to move effortlessly and therefore they do not force “correct technique” into their bodies.
- They play drills and games – which prevents them from thinking about the mechanic of their strokes, leading to a repetition of technique that is easily ingrained into their subconscious and is applied in matches naturally. Fun drills and games teach them to have fun and enjoy the sport!
- They do not obsess over correct tennis technique – They don’t consciously think about all the individual movements that go into a tennis swing, which makes it easier for them to focus on the fun of the game, and not about being “perfectly correct.” They do not think about “bending the knees, brushing under the ball, stepping forward, and finishing up” every stroke, which allows them to focus on the ball or point going on.
- They develop other motor skills – through fitness that focuses on dynamic balance, coordination, and footwork. This helps them develop better ways of generating force in the body. Many tennis clinics and programs enforce fitness like warmup laps and push-ups to build strength in their players. They may be a pain in the short-run, but it will pay off in the long-run when a few extra steps on the court are the difference between winning or losing a match.
- Kids have “all the time in the world” – They are not under time pressure and therefore are not impatient when it comes to learning tennis. They accept that learning tennis is a long process and therefore do not skip basic techniques fundamental to the sport, which actually helps them develop a well-rounded game more As a tennis player that started learning tennis at 16 years of age, I had to cut corners and learn advanced shots before learning the basics. I wish I had taken the time to learn how to brush under the ball or to topspin serve since the beginning of my lessons.
Because children have the privilege of extra time to develop, they are able to learn tennis using the analytical approach. Given all these facts about how children learn tennis above, it is important for parents and coaches to understand how to teach them tennis given that their bodies and mind works in a flexible way.
These lessons don’t just apply to kids, too. Adults new to tennis would be well-served to unlock their inner child and applying these techniques! The most important thing one can do to nurture a new player at any ages to keep it fun. By keeping the sport fun, you’ll begin to grasp great technique using the analytical approach.
It’s never been easier to get kids involved in tennis. Learn about play opportunities for new and experienced players!
Vivien Ho was an intern for USTA Mid-Atlantic during the summer of 2016. She is currently pursuing a business degree at the University of Virginia, where she plays on the club tennis team.