kids tennis rackets….

having the right size racket makes a huge difference when learning tennis
having the right size racket makes a huge difference when learning tennis

So, there’s an interest in tennis?? Shall I buy a racket??

My mere opinions on kids racket purchases….

Kids tennis all around the world has changed since I was little. Like almost all other sports, tennis has been scaled to match the size/ ages of the kids. No longer do they have to use big long rackets that are too heavy for their little arms to handle. There is a massive progression of racket size and weight. I remember learning to serve with my mums old racket. It was so heavy, but worst of all it hit the ground every time. Not ideal for developing a good-looking serve, nor good for my little arm!

It’s super important that when you start any child off, that they have the length and weight racket that is suitable for them. So many times, kids turn up for lessons or to play, and they think the bigger rackets are better, and they are deadset on using this”proper professional” racket,or their parents racket. They want to play properly, like what they see on tv.

Age modified tennis is everywhere now- called things from 10&under, grasshoppers, hotshots…..The guides are all out there too, what rackets fits certain ages. In terms of development, the size progressions of rackets are important. Any good coaching program will be able to provide good advice over which racket your child should be using. I recommend asking a coaching pro, rather than at your local generic sports store. The coach will be able to gauge more the best racket by observation of technique over a half hr, than a sporting goods store summing up size, strength and technique by glancing at your child for a few minutes. While they are reasonably good, I would use caution also using the recommended charts, as they don’t take into account height differences, strength differences, or ability. Sometimes also the price of the racket stems from material used. Generally those cheaper rackets will be heavier..

If your child is starting to play some tennis,and you are thinking about buying them a racket, spend the time to talk to your local tennis pro, even if not going to buy from them. They will know the progression of sizes, usually having rackets to borrow to make sure the length can be handled. No pro likes to see a kid starting out in tennis with the wrong size racket. It makes learning so much tougher. So many times, kids turn up with new rackets from a weekends spur of the moments in-store purchase. I cringe as I know that new racket that the little guy is so excited about using, is going to completely change his technique. Or the new 23” racket being unwrapped is already too small, as she was using a 25” at coaching the last few weeks. Also, if your child is a complete beginner, borrowing for a while is the best option, and as develops, may quickly move to the next size up.

Even if your child is not having coaching, if you stop down at your local club, the resident pro should be more than happy to give you some quick advice.

Take the time to ask. Not a huge purchase, but can make a massive difference!! Nothing cooler than seeing a 5-6yr old with the right size racket be able to do good technique.

see ya at the courts!!!



New blog on grassroots tennis

We are Advantage Tennis, based in the awesome location of St Heliers Tennis Club, St Heliers, Auckland.  Welcome to our new website.  We are starting a blog this summer focusing on club level tennis. Looking to help out with advice from giving parents insights to how to start their children in tennis, to adults playing  interclub competitions. As well as insights from some of our current clients, and weekly updates on the kids having fun on the courts. We will have tutorials, as well as Q&A sessions on anything related to tennis, focusing more at club level. While we are kicking it off, we are welcome to suggestions about what our community would like to read about, or like more information about…. We are looking for interaction, so comments, suggestions, friendly criticism….bring it on!!  🙂

changes in tennis for kids #1..BALLS

Changes in tennis since we were little…

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So you may or may not be aware, there have been some fairly major changes to how kids tennis is taught and played, both here in New Zealand, and around the world. Like other sports, where courts and equipment is modified to a smaller, lighter size for the size of kids, tennis has finally caught up, and changes are firmly in place.

Tennis Is finally getting it right… Gone are the days of kids playing with massive rackets, and on courts the same size as adults.  Just as there are progressions in pretty much every other sport, tennis has changed. And I am in agreeance, that it has changed for the better, and for the better enjoyment from the kids.

There are downfalls. The cost  of the different balls is not cheap. Where before old balls would do ( and generally be ok for the kids due to a lower bounce than new balls), coaches would need to purchase baskets of color specific balls for their coaching clinics. But, in my opinion, its well worth the cost, especially when they are rallying. When you see the littlies out on “their sized” court, playing “their real tennis” match, it all makes sense. Its the speed of these balls through the air, combined with the height of the bounce, that provides the difference.

Heres why…

The very first stage of the ball progression is the foam ball. Totally ideal for 3-4 yr olds. The balls are very light, so their arms can cope with the impact of the racket hitting the ball, yet don’t go too far, and are the slowest moving ball.

The next progressions are as follows. The main concept is the speed of the ball starts alot slower than a normal tennis ball, but progresses as a child gets older, as their perception and reaction time gets quicker. A big factor is also in the bounce of the ball… the height of a child is alot different to an adult. The balls are designed so the bounce is more proportionate to the contact zone (easiest place to hit ball, i.e between shoulders and hips)  of the child, mainly in terms of height

RED balls – are bigger, go slower and bounce lower than the orange balls. (8 and under)

ORANGE – moves slower and bounces lower than the green ball. (8 -10)

GREEN – the last stage before normal tennis ball. (9+yrs)

Using the right level balls for your childs progression certainly makes it easier for them to learn and keep good technique as they progress.  It also makes it easier for you as a parent to have rallies with them.  If you are spending time at the courts with the kids, it is well worth investing in a few of these low compression balls.

hitting the WALL!!!!!

HIT THE WALL.  Literally.  With a tennis ball.  One the greatest, yet underused, teaching tools for your tennis game is the good ole volley board. Or brick wall/garage door.  Whether you’re 6yrs or 66yrs, there is so much to work on against this commonly found practise partner.  You can do every shot in the book (tho,maybe not lobs),from forehands to serves, to volleys and smashes.  From topspin to slice to footwork,you’re guaranteed to improve if you put in the time against a wall. BUT,be constructive-there’s no point just standing there pooping balls back with no intent.

Practise routines, 2forehands / 3backhands … 1forehand / 1backhand / 1dropshot …. 2volleys / 1volley lob / turn and chase…  Honesty,its limitless.  And nowadays, throw an i pod on and practise to the beat – a song of backhands, a song of forehands and so on – you’ll be improving and having a blast as well   🙂

school hols….

School holidays. They are almost upon us again. Kids sleep in, and spend alot of time inside, mostly playing on computer games. Its approaching the summer season. time to get them out of the house, meeting new friends, and learning a new sport. We have school holiday clinics in both weeks of these school holidays 9-12. Get them out of the house, at least for the morning. Welcome to do casual days, or the week…..