Teaching young children is not as easy as you might think. It can be very challenging. There are some adults, coaches and parents who are born with the gift of being able to communicate with children with great ease. For coaches and parents with less teaching experience where small children are concerned, here are some general principles that you should consider:
- When giving instructions, speak clearly and slowly
- Try not to show fear – children can spot it a mile away
- Try to use vocabulary that they understand
- In order to get and maintain their attention, be excited
- Attention spans are short, so keep your instruction short
- Refrain from sharing negative thoughts
- When they do something right – tell them
- Try to be animated to show enthusiasm
- When you can, get down to eye level so they feel important
- Use repetition when delivering simple messages of instruction
It is up to you to see that the child actually learns. There are many ways to teach children. Although court time is a very good lesson and putting them on the court and allowing them to do the activity will teach them to some degree, they cannot learn effectively. We need to consider what we teach.
For the younger players (5-7 years), we need to begin with the fundamental skills of running, jumping, and balance to create players with athletic skills. Reception skills including visual tracking, following the ball, and eye-hand coordination should also be included. As the players progress in skill and age, we can begin to include coordination skills that will enable the player to use the body in the most efficient manner. This includes the use of both sides of the body, the arms and legs in different ways, and eventually, an overall development of multiple skills.
Now that you’ve learned a few things that will help you to teach your child certain elements in the game of tennis, it’s up to you to get him or her wanting to come back to the court. My advice to you is to make the practices as fun as possible.
When teaching your player, movement and balance should be emphasized throughout the lesson. Try not to deliver too much information on technique. This will only confuse young players. Some simple guidelines and key teaching points are listed below:
- Start by teaching them a ready position that is effective and comfortable to them.
- Use a ball as often as you can during your initial step of the lesson.
- Do fundamental activities before specific ones.
- Have the child practice moving in all directions.
- Teach the players how to move, don’t assume they already know.
- Don’t use the entire court for play.
- Teach to keep the head still and eyes focused on the ball.
- Teach good posture and control of the lower body.
- Teach them balance by lowering their center of gravity.
- Have them use their knees and joints to create stability.
- Form a wide base with the feet to create a good hitting stance.
- Coordinate the use of the arms and legs to help control the position of the upper body
- Teach them to keep their shoulders level on all rotations and swings.
- When tossing balls for them to hit, start out tossing close to the body then progress their movement outward gradually.
Posted By Steven White, author and illustrator of “Bring Your Racquet: Tennis Basics for Kids” http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933794240
Image Credit: Frédéric de Villamil