Working with young kids – Elf Tennis

Some of you have reading this post may have read through my website and are wondering, ” what is it really like to teach 3 year olds and what do you actually do during the lesson? How could children as young as three possibly participate in a tennis lessons?” In this blog post, I will discuss some of the approaches used to help make lessons more amenable for young children. Rather than give you a list of activities, I would like to suggest an embodying philosophy. One of the key factors to success in engaging young children is flexibility. Flexibility means being open to ideas presented by the children in the class and picking up on cues from the children. If children state that they are interested in a specific activity, sometimes it’s hitting the ball back and fourth on the ground other times it’s having a sword fight with the racquets while in some instances its pretending that the racquets are guitars. While some of these ideas may sound outlandish most ideas can be adapted into workable drills and activities that actually build tennis skills. The key to feeding off of kids is to ascertain what element of the suggested activity that they actually like (for example movement, fantasy, the ability to hit the ball in their own) and then create activities that involve those elements.
In addition, changing activities mid stream is sometimes essential. If an activity doesn’t seem like a big hit, then it’s best to try a different activity even if you intended to continue with the activity for a longer period of time.
Here is an example of how to amend activities to a child’s needs. Today, I taught a child who has been difficult in the past. And when I say difficult, I mean difficult. He would throw the racquet after he hit every shot and run away from me. I was feeding him balls from the other side of the net and giving him feedback. First we established that he needed to be on a certain side of the net . Then, he communicated that he liked racing and finally, he told me that he wanted to hit the ball back and fourth on the ground make me run for the ball. While agreeing to him making me run for the ball makes it sound like I was a pushover for a sadistic child the activities really did build skills essential for tennis. The racing builds speed while hitting the ball away from me helps him gain comfort with stroke mechanics and learn targeting.
I strongly suggest that when offering tennis lessons to kids you work with there suggestions while always being mindful of the skills learned and always offering instructional tips throughout the activity. For more information on how I teach email