Six At-Home Tennis Activities to Bust Boredom

As a mom of two active little boys, I am a firm believer in getting outside each day to burn off extra energy. We run around the yard, play games, take walks – whatever we can do to get out of the house, move our bodies and have some fun.

I don’t know about you, but we just cannot stay cooped up in the house all day long. On those days when we do, the tranquility of our family room quickly turns into a disaster area with couch cushions strewn about, toys everywhere (and I mean everywhere), boys running room to room racing to see who’s the fastest, and sporting equipment flying. Did I mention that my boys are active?

During the colder months when the temperatures dip too low to go outside for long periods of time, I desperately search for activities we can do inside that are engaging and get my kids moving with as little destruction as possible.

My older son has recently found an affinity for tennis (hooray!) thanks to his recent participation in the TGA afterschool tennis enrichment program. He wants to play all the time. And I couldn’t be happier about it! With equipment sized right, tennis is fun for kids of all ages and skill level and it boasts numerous benefits such as learning lessons in teamwork and sportsmanship as well as building physical strength and endurance.

Considering he is just a very early beginner, I definitely want to keep his interest and give him the chance to have fun with tennis when he wants. That got me thinking: what tennis activities could we do inside at home while we wait for sunnier days and warmer temps more accommodating for time out on our local tennis courts.

So I went right to USTA Mid-Atlantic’s own resident expert on playing tennis in non-traditional spaces (aka our manager of school programs) Alicia von Lossberg. She assured me that, very easily, everyday spaces can turn into the perfect places for tennis fun for you and your children.

She explained that all of the activities are suitable for a basement, playroom or even the garage and that activities range from racquet and ball handling to fitness fun. You don’t even need to have a net! You can get creative with items you likely have on hand at home. Masking tape or painters tape is perfect for marking the perimeter of the “court” on the floor or simply mark a line for where a net would be. You can also use two chairs with tape stretched between them as the net.

This is just the solution I want to have at the ready should we find ourselves indoors but chomping for an activity.

So, the next time you are stuck inside more than you like and you hear “I’m bored,” for the umpteenth time, grab your racquets and foam balls and try these six fun tennis activities at home to break up the monotony and calm the crazy.

Ball balance, tap downs and bump ups are all great activities to practice racquet and ball handling. For ball balance, have your little tennis star try to balance the foam ball on the strings of the racquet while touching the floor with their opposite hand. Tap downs are when you bounce the ball down at waist level and bump ups are when you bounce the ball (carefully) up at eye level without letting the ball hit the ground. Have your child do as many of those as they can. You can even do these activities with your child and see who can do the most in a row or go the longest balancing the ball.

Helpful hint: if this is too hard for them, try a beach ball or balloon for quick success before moving on to the foam ball.

Partner up and practice hand-eye skills. Put some tunes on and partner up with your child or partner your kids up to work on hand-eye coordination. A fan favorite is ball pass where you work together to pass a ball back and forth “catching” it with the racquet. For each catch, keep stepping back a step and see how far apart you can get. Set a record and see who can break it.

Helpful hint: for younger kids, use a bean bag to pass instead.  

Get in a rhythm with “drop, hit, catch” and “toss, hit, catch.” These games are sure to bring a smile to your child’s face and even work their rhythmic pattern skills! Partner up with them and have them gently drop the ball and hit it toward you so that you can catch it – drop, hit, catch, and repeat. Every catch is a point! After six hits, change roles and see who can get the most points. Try toss, hit, catch to work on forehand and backhand skills. Begin about three steps apart from your child and toss the tennis ball to the forehand or backhand side and have them rally the ball back to you to catch it. Toss it six times and switch!

Helpful hint: Give your child a target (like your knees or hat on your head) to keep balls from being hit like home runs.

drop-hit-catch2

Rally over the net. Remember those chairs with the tape (or rope, ribbon, or streamers) stretched between them? Set them up as the net and work with your child to rally the ball over to each other. You can make this activity easier by rolling the ball on the ground or make it harder by switching between forehand and backhand off the bounce. See how long you can rally with each other.

Agility, footwork and speed are all valuable skills for tennis that can be worked on at home. If you are playing in a more open space of the house, a few minutes of jump rope is a great way your child can work on footwork moves. See how long each of you can jump without stopping. Hop scotch is also a great game to work on balance and agility by hopping on one foot and then two. But the best game of all IMO is the “Ball Kid Burst.” Put imagination to action and pretend to be a ball kid dashing to grab the tennis balls for superstars like Rafa and Serena during an intense match. Place a racquet on the floor and then place a pile of tennis balls directly across from the racquet, about 10 to 15 feet away. Get your stopwatch ready and race to grab one ball at a time and place them on racquet. Record the time and see how fast you can get all the tennis balls picked up. Take turns to see who is the fastest. Try this one at the end of play time, when all the foam balls are scattered about. This is a GREAT way to make clean up fun.

ball-kid-burst

Strategize a new game. Tennis is all about game strategy so work those intellectual skills and have your child invent their own tennis game that can be played indoors. Kids love to make up their own games, and you never know what kind of creative ideas they will come up with that can work a new tennis skill. Just make sure you remember it for next time to add it in the rotation.

Hopefully you found this list to be a handy reference so that on the days when you just can’t get enough outdoor time or make it to the courts, you can still work with your child on their budding tennis skills and love of the game! And speaking of love of tennis, don’t forget, kids 10 and under new to the USTA are eligible for a free junior membership. Find out more and sign up!

What fun tennis activities have you tried with kids? Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Lauren Hoffmann is the director of marketing, communication and membership at USTA Mid-Atlantic. She would write a really clever little line here but she’s a mom and she’s exhausted.

Illustration images are from the USTA Kid’s Tennis Clubs Organizers Playbook. Illustrations are thanks to Skillastics, Inc.

2016 Mid-Atlantic Award Winners

Gain Inspiration from These Six Award Winners

USTA Mid-Atlantic (USTA MAS) was pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Impact, Inclusion and Innovation awards for the Section at this year’s Conference and Awards ceremony on November 12, 2016. This is the second year USTA MAS has awarded trophies to deserving individuals and organizations who are working hard to promote and develop the growth of tennis in the community.

This year’s award winners are a diverse group that has a commonality – a passion for getting more people of all ages playing tennis. From an organization that has gone above and beyond to encourage diverse populations to play tennis to an individual using the latest social media technology to get more people out on the courts, these six winners are ones to watch in the Section. They are also great role models for others who also want to make a difference in the tennis community.

 Instead of just telling you about them, take a look at the following videos to learn about each award winner and what makes their work so special.

2016 Inclusion Award (individual), Ann Tierney of Chesterfield, VA.

2016 Inclusion Award (organization), The Multicultural Children’s Tennis Association of Columbia, MD.

 2016 Innovation Award (individual), Pedro Graber of Arlington, VA.

 2016 Innovation Award (organization), the District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association of Washington, DC.

 2016 Impact Award (individual), Jennifer Toomy of Norfolk, VA.

2016 Impact Award (organization), Montgomery TennisPlex, Boyds, MD.

Please join us in congratulating these award winners on their tremendous accomplishments in 2016.

We hope these stories are an inspiration to do more in your community to grow tennis, embrace inclusion and try new things to spark interest in the sport. You can also get involved by supporting USTA Mid-Atlantic in our efforts to reach underserved populations and enable more people – especially children – to play tennis and learn the sport of lifetime. You can simply text ACE to 80077 to make a $10 donation to USTA Mid-Atlantic to help our tennis enrichment scholarship fund.*

What do you find inspirational about the 2016 USTA MAS award winners? In what ways can you do more to promote and develop the growth of tennis in your community? Share your thoughts with us on social media and join the conversation.

Editor’s note: All award winner videos were produced in partnership with G-Fitz Productions.

*$10 donation to USTA Mid-Atlantic. Charges will appear on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your prepaid balance. All purchases must be authorized by account holder. Must be 18 years of age or have parental permission to participate. Msg&Data Rates May Apply. Text STOP to 80077 to STOP. Text HELP to 80077 for HELP. Full Terms: mGive.org/T Privacy Policy: mGive.org/P


Lauren Hoffmann, is the director of marketing, communications and membership for USTA Mid-Atlantic.

What’s Your Reason Why for High School Sports?

It was two days before the high school tennis state championships.

*Snap.*      I broke my wrist.

As I heard the words “You can’t play for eight weeks,” I was devastated and more importantly I was disappointed for letting down my team. My disappointment vanished quickly as my teammates rallied around me and I rallied for them cheering on from the sidelines that year. This unwavering camaraderie and friendship with my tennis teammates on and off the court was a major dose of motivation for me. The following year, we came back even stronger and we became the second public school since 1987 to win the team State Championships.

This is high school sports. This is #MyReasonWhy.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is celebrating National High School Activities Month with the launch of the #MyReasonWhy campaign. They encourage people to share their reasons for participating in high school sports and activity programs in an effort to highlight the benefits of these activities.

Tennis provides myriad of benefits for youth and high schoolers that mirror many of the benefits NFHS touts. From physical activity benefits to strong academics, tennis develops life skills and teamwork at an early age that carry on to adulthood.

Often people may not think of tennis as a typical team sport, but with high school tennis, Junior Team Tennis and USTA League – team tennis is abundant. Personally, I couldn’t have built a better, stronger team through tennis than I did in high school.

Lindsey Keeler, second from left, with her Red Mountain High School Tennis Team.

Lindsey Keeler, second from left, with her Red Mountain High School Tennis Team.

I had been playing tennis competitively in USTA Junior Tournaments most of my life and found that high school tennis was the perfect complement to my junior play. It provided me the team component I wanted while also increasing my play experiences against other top players.

Those experiences and friendships formed with teammates is what motivated me to then play tennis in college and have continued to motivate me to play USTA League tennis now.

I asked around the USTA Mid-Atlantic office and here are a few reasons why our staff participated in high school sports and activities:

“I played tennis in both high school and junior high because I loved the team component it provided me and it kept me active.”  

“My reason why I did high school sports was the teamwork, healthy competition, character building and fun of it all!”

If you participated in high school sports or activities, especially tennis, what was your reason why? Or if you currently are involved in high school sports and activities – players, coaches, program supervisors, what’s your reason why?  Share it with us on USTA Mid-Atlantic social media AND share it with NFHS using #MyReasonWhy.


Lindsey Keeler, is the director of adult programs at USTA Mid-Atlantic and a proud Red Mountain High School Tennis Hall of Famer.

 

USTA Mid Atlantic Award Crystal

The Three “I”s in Tennis

How do you spell tennis?

T-E-N-N-I-S. Absolutely correct!

How many of you might say there are three “i”s in tennis? Probably not many, but I am here to tell you there are.

As the Executive Director for USTA Mid-Atlantic I am moved by the passion people find in tennis. I visit the tennis courts in our Section and attend events, and as I look around I see people of every age, size, color and type playing their hearts out and having fun. Tennis truly embodies what it means to be life-long – something you can play as a child, teen, young adult and into your golden years. And oh by the way, you can get started at any age too!

Our goal, our mission is to get more people to experience what tennis is all about; play, have fun and feel the passion and benefits that result. Specifically it is to promote and develop the growth of tennis and we couldn’t be more proud to do that. In my role, I am always looking for ways we can get more people to find themselves in the game. I look strategically at what we are doing as a Section to achieve this and to keep us focused, we created a three-year plan that is aimed at serving the mission and actively tracking our goals.

Interestingly, as a result of creating the strategic plan, we saw the three “i”s: inclusion, innovation, and impact bubble up to the surface.

Inclusion – tennis is a game for any and every one. And our work strives to embrace that across all program areas of focus. We are working to create an inclusive and diverse tennis community through programs and services that attract all people to the game. Not only that, we hope to inspire the entire Mid-Atlantic tennis community to embrace and support an environment of inclusion.

Innovation – no longer can you just keep doing the same things and expect the same results. Innovation and disruption to the norms are essential for keeping tennis viable. Every day we push ourselves to try new things and get creative to reach our goals. This mentality has brought forth some of our most interesting (and fun) opportunities and programs to attract more people to tennis. Check out our Yo Pro program and youth progression for starters. We are striving for innovation when it comes to growing tennis and in how we provide the game itself.

Impact – above all we want to make a difference in a measurable way. We want to have positive outcomes on individuals, young and old, on communities and on tennis in the Mid-Atlantic. We are all about hard-hitting measurable results that show improved quality and increase in participation.

These three words are referenced and inferred throughout the strategic plan and when we took a step back, they stood out prominently.

While the three “i”s make a lot of sense to us here at the Section office, we know we aren’t alone embracing these principles.  We know that so many of you in our tennis community are living the three “i”s every day. In fact, in 2015 we wanted to honor the work of individuals and organizations going above and beyond to grow tennis and modeled our 2015 Section Awards in three new categories.

The Inclusion Award for advancing the commitment to tennis in every community recognizes those that went above and beyond to make our sport welcoming. The Innovation Award for embracing change as a strategy to grow tennis recognizes those that are proactive in trying new and different ideas and who attracted or retained players by introducing unique offerings. And the Impact Award for hard-hitting influence on the growth of tennis to those that grew tennis across the board and used tennis to make a positive difference in the community.

We had an impressive inaugural class of award winners – you can check out these videos to hear their inspiring stories.

In 2016, we continued with the three “i”s for the 2016 Section Awards. We received strong nominations and are excited to announce this year’s winners and tell their stories during the 2016 Conference & Awards on Saturday, November 12 at the Bethesda Marriott. I hope you can join us to learn about the 2016 award winners and get a sense of the three “i”s for yourself.

Tennis is the greatest sport around and when we put the three “i”s in tennis we’ll be well on our way to reaching our goals and having more and more people benefit from our great game.

Now that you know about the three “i”s, in what ways can you embrace them both on and off the court? I challenge you to think about that and share your stories with us through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (ustamas).  Or contact us through the blog and let us know what you think.


Tara Fitzpatrick-Navarro, is the executive director for USTA Mid-Atlantic.

Tennis on Point. Uniquely Mid-Atlantic.

Welcome!

You know, USTA Mid-Atlantic is the go-to source for tennis in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, DC and eastern and southern West Virginia. Not only do we have our finger on the pulse of opportunities for you and your family or friends to find yourself in the game, we come across a lot of great stories, resources and good information that may make your life – especially your tennis life – a little bit easier.  We have a passion for tennis, the absolute greatest game in our opinion, and that’s why we are excited to bring this new resource to you.

Tennis on Point is a place where tennis in the Mid-Atlantic can have its own voice. This is a destination where stories can be shared from and about our unique tennis community, where you can learn something new and maybe even a have laugh or two. It is a place where we want you to get a variety of points of view from the Section – and beyond – that you aren’t able to get anywhere else.

So what can you expect when you visit Tennis on Point?

  • Community – Hit the community section of Tennis on Point to get the latest news and stories of our great Mid-Atlantic Tennis community. Maybe you’ll read an uplifting profile of an outstanding USTA League Captain or find out about an upcoming event you can’t miss. Get inspired through a guest article from members and players like you, to experts and thought leaders.
  • Fun and Lifestyle – Bounce on over to this section for some fun. That’s what tennis is all about, right!? You might find yourself reading about the latest tennis fashion trends we spotted at the US Open or learning about cutting edge technologies improving the game.
  • Impact – Serve yourself some knowledge when you read up on the impact of tennis. Tennis offers endless benefits. This section will explore all the good that comes thanks to this sport. We’ll spotlight the impact that tennis has and celebrate the innovation and inclusion so many of us strive for every day.
  • Tips and Tricks – Rally around the tips and tricks section for pointers, resources and information to up your game or help others do their best on and off the court. This section may feature tips for coaching, ways to start playing tennis or help someone get going, creative ways to play and tricks that can be part of your on-court strategy.

We hope that Tennis on Point is a place where you can learn more about and get to know your fellow tennis players from the Mid-Atlantic as well as all of us here at the Section office. By the way, we don’t want this to be a place where you just come and read – we invite you to participate in making this a vibrant representation of USTA Mid-Atlantic. If you have a great idea for a story, a smart tip or have an article you can contribute, please let us know.

We welcome comments and thoughts about the articles and you will likely find that we will ask you to share your insights through social media on Facebook and Twitter (follow us if you don’t already). One last thing, sign up for an email alert so you never miss a new article! We’ll do our best to bring something fresh and new to you at least once a week.

The Mid-Atlantic has a vibrant tennis community and we want to celebrate that with the stories and articles you’ll find right here at Tennis on Point.


Lauren Hoffmann, is the director of marketing, communications and membership for USTA Mid-Atlantic. She’s a beginner at tennis and is most definitely going to be glued to the articles in the Tips and Tricks section!