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How do you preserve your child’s interest in tennis? A fun variety of tennis games can make a big difference! Repetition upon repetition is crucial to early tennis development. However, parents can sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture: kids work harder and improve faster when they are having fun.
Kid Tennis Hub has compiled a list of our top 3 favorite tennis games you can try out with your child. Mix these in with the usual drills and competitive play to create the perfect tennis practice environment for your children.
Kids Tennis Game #1: RING OF FIRE
We love this game for young kids 5-7 years old because it teaches sending and receiving skills, as well as control from a young age. Two players are required for the game, though a parent or coach can take the place of the 2nd player.
Make 2 circles of 5 disc cones each, about 3 feet in diameter on a tennis court. The circles should be spaced approximately 12 feet apart. The two players
There are 3 phases of this game. The first phase involves each player standing just behind their circle (ring of fire). The kids take turns underhand tossing red tennis balls, attempting to land them in the other player’s circle. If the ball lands within the other circle or hits one of the cones, that is a point for the tossing player and the receiving player places that ball atop one of their cones to mark it as a point. This process is repeated until one player has scored 5 points, filling up all of their cones.
The second phase of Ring of Fire, involves one player continuing to toss tennis balls with their hands, while the other player uses their kids tennis racket to hit controlled strokes. The scoring system is the same as phase 1. Coach Stowell does an excellent job at describing how this works in the video above.
In phase 3, both kids are equipped with rackets. It is now essentially a back-and-forth rally. This game is sure to improve your child’s sending and receiving skills, eye-hand coordination, and control. Hitting the ball blatantly hard is not advantageous in this game, meaning it will teach your kid to value technique and accuracy.
Kids Tennis Game #2: TENNIS FOUR SQUARE
What you’ll need:
- Tennis Balls (red, orange, or green)
- Tape, chalk, or cones
- Great for children under the age of 12
This game is self-explanatory. It’s our nostalgic childhood game of Four Square, but with Tennis! We’re a big fan of this kids tennis game because it can be done just about anywhere. All you need is some kind of pavement (maybe not in the middle of the road). Create the 2×2 Four Square court with tape, chalk, paint, or cones. A minimum of 4 players is required. If your children are under the age of 5, make the squares relatively small. (9×9 feet in total) Increase the playing court size by 1 foot for each additional year of age.
Players try to advance to the “highest” square by not making a mistake. As with real tennis, consistency is key. Only underhand hits are allowed-no smashing. If a player hits the ball out of the squares, they either go to the back of the line or to square 4, and everyone else who can advance a square does so. This is a very casual game that is great for practicing control, touch, and reaction-time. If your tennis courts are still closed, you can play Tennis Four Square in your driveway!
Kids Tennis Game #3: KING/QUEEN OF THE COURT
What you’ll need:
- Tennis Balls (red, orange, or green)
- Smaller net for younger kids
- Anyone older than 5 can play
King/Queen of the Court is one of the all-time great tennis games for both kids and adults alike! A minimum of 3 players is required. It can be played on a regular tennis court, or a half-size court using our preferred kid-friendly tennis net for younger players.
The “king or queen” starts on one side of the court. The other 2+ players will be on the other side. On this challenger side, 1 player will be on the active court while the others will be a safe distance away, waiting for their turn. Points are played with drop-hit feeds, not serves. Adults and older juniors may decide to use serves to start off points. A challenger must win 2 points in a row in order to take the king or queen’s place on the other side of the court. If a challenger loses either their first or second point, then they head to the back of the line and the next challenger rotates in.
This tennis game is the perfect combination of competition and fun. It can even be played with multiple courts by incorporating rules where if the king or queen wins 5 total points, they can move up to a higher-tier court. This is similar to the popular tennis game, BUMP. Remember to encourage your children to high-five their opponents when switching sides for the sake of instilling good sportsmanship habits.
Kids Tennis is Fun... Keep it that Way!
Tennis games for kids are beneficial in numerous ways. They help keep your kids interested in tennis, and give them something to be excited about leading up to each practice. The ideal kids tennis game will inspire a sense of accomplishment within your children. Kids should be receiving encouragement from their parents and coaches during games, drills, and even competitive matches.
Studies have shown that tennis player development is quickened and generally improved when positive reinforcement is used when a junior is starting out. That’s why when I coach tennis to a group of children, I always make sure to include at least one fun, positive-reinforcement oriented game—usually at the end of practice.