I learned how to play tennis with my dad’s racquetball racquet when I was 3. I spent countless hours hitting old tennis balls on my homemade Centre Court created from a painted net on the garage door and a conveniently placed crack in the driveway a few feet back. This was my introduction to the game. It was a blast.
While none of this was by design, it turns out that these were wonderful conditions for learning the game as a little guy. The racquet was small enough that I could swing it without a running start. The balls were dead enough that they didn’t bounce over my head. The court allowed me to move up as close as needed to the garage door to control the ball, before slowly graduating back as I figured out how to rally.
It wasn’t too difficult to figure out enough to have fun with it as a kid. Quickly, I was imagining myself in the final round of the biggest tournament, fighting to beat my imaginary opponent, the garage door, over and over to heroically take all the titles. Crowd goes wild, amirite?
This is the same idea behind the latest trend in American tennis for kids –QuickStart, or, 10-And-Under Tennis – led by the United States Tennis Association. The idea is simple: give kids equipment, courts and balls that fit their size and stage of development. It is tee-ball or pop-warner football for tennis. Make the game easier to learn. Make it more fun.
When you learn tennis with a racquet that is too big and heavy, using balls that bounce too high and far, on a court you are way too small to cover, you develop bad technical habits. When you are older and bigger, progress is interrupted to correct those bad habits. Or, and more likely, the game just isn’t that fun, so you take your place in the outfield at little league practice with the other kids.
QuickStart tennis changed that and it’s working. More and more kids are playing the sport and having a great time doing it. Tennis is finally fun for kids to learn – like it was for me – still to this day undefeated in the driveway.
To find a coach in your area with 10 and under tennis experience, click here.