Countless parents hope to get their child involved in a sport but are concerned about the sport’s ability to facilitate a safe, developmentally enriching environment. Some sports, such as football, are high-contact and often put kids at risk for concussions. Tennis, however, is an incredibly safe sport, due to it’s low-contact nature. Junior tennis has the perfect balance between developmental and psychological benefits and can help children grow in all sorts of ways.
For youth who need additional assistance in improving their psychological abilities or are behind the developmental curve, tennis can be a great resource. With the right program and coach, tennis youth can learn important psychological lessons and actively strive to achieve developmental tasks that better their long-term well-being.
Strength and Immune System
Obviously, research shows that exercise build muscles and bones. In tennis practice sessions and games, players participate in physical activities that increase their stamina and power, leading to improved endurance, arm strength, and a balanced core. Furthermore, with daily or even weekly practice, tennis can dramatically improve your child’s cardiovascular health and immune system.
Coordination and Motor Skills
Tennis significantly assists the foundation of children’s gross and fine motor skills, especially when they begin tennis at a young age. Gross motor skills refer to controlling one’s body and general movements, such as knowing how to crawl or walk. For tennis, kids can improve their running, footwork, arm movement, and overall body control. Fine motor skills, on the other hand, focus on one’s ability to control and hold smaller items, such as holding a racket. Using and switching between ultra-specific techniques for different tennis strokes can enhance fine motor skills as well.
Hand-eye coordination improvement is one of the most noticeable occurrences you will witness as a tennis parent. As a coach, I’ve witnessed countless juniors go from utterly terrible hand-eye coordination to roughly ranking in the 90th percentile. Having to hit a small ball on the sweet spot of the racket from the get-go is the equivalent to getting thrown in the pool without knowing how to swim. You’re forced to learn fast, and for that reason development occurs quickly.
Agility, Speed, and Precision
Getting to the ball quickly is paramount to the game. For peak performance, professional tennis players must have exceptional balance, fast reflexes, speed, and agility. Your child likely won’t check all of these boxes starting out, but these traits will surely improve after just a few weeks of lessons. Being able to plant your feet before a stroke is critical to precisely hitting the ball, which improves one’s hand-eye coordination and overall body control. Several activities in tennis improve this skill, including:
• Serving diagonally into the appropriate service box
• Ensuring the ball lands inside the singles or doubles court boundaries depending on the game
• Hitting and placing the tennis ball away from the opponent
Tennis is not just a physical development catalyst for juniors; it also provides opportunities to enhance psychological abilities while teaching essential life lessons.
Problem-Solving and Adaptability
Imagine this: you are playing your tennis rival in a match, and you are down in the set by four games. You keep using the same forehand stroke that you have perfected in practice, but the opponent keeps returning the balls and playing like a “pusher.” What do you do?
For many tennis stars, their answer would be to solve the problem and look for ways to improve. No one can succeed with a fixed mindset and a single talent. Having the ability to adapt to each unique situation provides a huge advantage in tennis, as well as in the “real world.”
Although tennis has traditionally been viewed as an individual sport, juniors are often involved with a team at some point. Middle schoolers often join a USTA team or participate in their local tennis program’s team tennis league. High schoolers who are even mildly serious about tennis will typically play on their high school team, whether junior varsity or varsity.
For both middle and high schoolers, doubles are played much more often as compared to singles. This means lots and lots of teamwork development. In high school, juniors learn hand signals to communicate to their partner what strategy the team should employ for every point. And of course, there’s the task of motivating your doubles partner, win or lose.
Sportsmanship and Respect
Tennis is a game of integrity and honor. It is unique because there are no line judges (unless your child plays in high-level USTA tournaments), and all players are in charge of making their own line calls. Rather than being dishonest about close line calls, players are expected to be truthful and play fair. These expectations can often translate to your child’s mindset as a whole, which builds character in the long-term.
Along with their responsibility to protect the integrity of the game, junior tennis athletes must demonstrate respect for themselves, opponents, and coaches, which teaches discipline in a healthy environment.
The Courts are Calling!
Kid Tennis Hub is your go-to place to get your children started with tennis. We recognize that it can be overwhelming to introduce kids into a new sport – especially if it is new to you too – and we want to help every step along the way. We offer a free and thorough Parents’ Guide to Junior Tennis to answer all of your questions. If there is something you are still curious about, please contact us, and we would be happy to help.