INTRODUCING KIDS IN HONG KONG TO TENNIS:
If you read part one in our ‘Introducing Kids to Tennis in Hong Kong’ series, you already know all about the general benefits tennis can have for children in Hong Kong. One of the best parts of this, and something you may not have known, is that when it comes to learning tennis, it’s never too early to begin. All you need is a racquet, some tennis balls, an eager child, a bit of space and some patience!
Though immensely difficult to master, in many other ways learning to play tennis is akin to learning how to ride a bike. Once a child has learned the fundamental skills, they will not go away, and will instead be something he or she can draw on for years to come. Giving children access to tennis basics at a young age provides them with a great advantage over a lifetime. More importantly, it provides countless hours of fun.
With a bit of guidance from their parents, children as young as three years old can begin to develop skills with early exposure to the mechanics of tennis. Of course, with children this young, it is best to ease them into the game. While older children can immediately grasp some of the more finicky skills involved with this great game, children under five can be best benefitted by one thing and one thing only:
That’s right. Before learning the finer points, it is imperative that younger children learn to love the game.
Simply hand these eager youngsters a junior sized racquet and softly toss them tennis balls in the backyard. The emphasis on proper form can come later, possibly even at one of Australasia Tennis Aces junior or school age programs, for now, it’s best to just let them swing away.
In the earliest stages of development, it is best to keep the child free of instruction, though it is advisable to explain to them that their racquet is not in fact a weapon to be swung at helpful parents or innocent siblings! Outside of ensuring safety, don’t worry about minute detail, like where they are placing their feet, or how they are holding their racquet. These things will come in due time. Instead, simply focus on whether or not they are having fun, as that is the goal.
With toddlers, too much instruction has an inverse relationship with fun and can cause them to become confused or bored. If a child associates tennis with these negative emotions early in their development, it may negatively impact their opinion of tennis. However, if they begin to associate the act of swinging a tennis racquet with fun, the future possibilities of what they can accomplish within the sport are endless. The best part is, in the long run, the act of hitting the ball with the racquet, even free form, can help a child develop hand eye coordination for their future tennis endeavours.
The bottom line is that it’s never to early to get your youngster started in this sport!
Looking for tips relevant to an older age group? Be sure to follow Australasia Tennis Aces on social media for access to part 3 of our ‘introduction to tennis’ series!
As always, if you have a question about this article, or about tennis in Hong Kong, our tennis pros will be serving up answers in the comment section, so ask away!