If you’re a parent interested in getting your kid involved with tennis—congrats—the sport is quickly becoming one of the most popular children’s activities around the world. It’s a highly beneficial sport for children both physically and mentally.
But is it safe? Even though tennis is traditionally viewed as a “non-contact sport, this is typically one of the first questions we get from parents in the early stages of junior tennis involvement. Let’s take a look at the potential risks, non-threats, and more in order to determine how safe kid’s tennis truly is.
Junior Tennis Safety is Dependent on Numerous Factors
There are multiple elements at play when it comes to safety in junior tennis. One of the most important determining factors is the environment your child is playing tennis in. This encompasses the coach, drills, and overall safety precautions put in place. As a parent, it’s your job to ensure your child is playing tennis in a safe and welcoming environment. We’ll explain how you can be sure of this later.
It is also crucial that your child has high-quality tennis gear. Racket, shoes, and clothing all must be at a certain standard in order to ensure maximum safety for your little one. Later, we will go over these standards, what to look out for, and how to get the safest gear.
External factors can increase the danger level of tennis, if not dealt with in a safe manner. Rain, excessive sun exposure, and cracks on courts can lead to safety concerns. These variables can’t be controlled, but you do have the power to minimize or even eliminate them.
Enroll Your Child in a Safe Junior Tennis Program
One of the most important decisions you can make as a tennis parent, is what program and coach you decide to use with your child. You can even choose to self-coach. Whichever coaching path you choose, one thing is certain: safety precautions and tennis fundamentals need to be understood by both yourself and your child.
When looking at coaches and programs, take your child’s age and skill level into account. If they are a complete beginner under 6 years old, then aim for enrolling them in a Net Generation, QuickStart, or other young kid’s tennis development program. These classes are designed with safety as a top priority-there aren’t any safety concerns worth worrying about.
On the other hand, if your child is more advanced and older, it’s okay to enroll them in a higher-level class. Advanced junior tennis lessons will typically involve various types of cardio workouts—not just pure tennis play. Parents often ask us if their children’s undeveloped muscles can handle this. The best way to know that your kids aren’t being pushed over the limit is to verify the credentials of the coach. If they are USPTA certified, then you’re golden. USPTA training and certification ensures that coaches are knowledgeable in good safety practices—they won’t overdo it with your children and risk their well-being.
Use Safe Kids Tennis Gear
The tennis gear you choose to buy for your children can play a large part in keeping them safe on the court. This includes rackets, tennis shoes, and even socks.
Your child’s racket size needs to fit their age, height and other variables. A racket that is too heavy for your kid presents the risk of muscle damage to shoulders or elbows. Nobody should swing a racket that requires a moderate amount of exertion each swing. Full strokes should feel natural and smooth. Likewise, a racket that is too light can lead to your child developing bad habits, such as swinging too fast. A Racket with a disproportionate grip size or string tension can lead to discomfort in the wrists and forearms. To learn more about how to get the right sized racket for your child, read our Kid’s Tennis Racket Sizing Guide.
We recommend investing in high quality tennis shoes. We’re not talking about generic tennis shoes for a running or casual setting. Tennis shoes that are meant for court play are designed to provide heel and ankle support. This reduces risk of rolling an ankle or spraining something.
Tennis court shoes are also much better for sideways, lateral movements—a huge part of tennis, even for juniors. Do your research when comparing kids tennis shoes. Cheap pairs will wear down on the toe part very fast, and will likely require you to buy new pairs more frequently. One of our favorite kids tennis shoes is the NikeCourt Jr. Vapor X, which provides plenty of support, along with breathability.
Believe it or not, socks play a part in maintaining your child’s well-being in tennis. Avoid cotton socks at all cost. By getting your kid synthetic-fabric socks, their risks of blistering will be significantly reduced. Plus, it helps with the possibility of being diagnosed with Athlete’s foot, which is never fun to deal with. If your child’s tennis shoes are barely too large for them, try having them wear 2 pairs of socks at once. This will hamper their feet from moving around in their shoes—the leading cause of foot blisters in tennis.
Be on the Lookout for External Risk Factors
Now that you know what you can actively do as a parent to maximize safety for your child, it’s time to consider external circumstances that could present risks. Luckily, this is the easy part—red flags are not hard to spot.
If you have the misfortune of living in a rainy climate, then playing tennis is not always a possibility. While yes, it can be played in a super light mist, if you’re ever in doubt, keep your child off of a wet court. To get a more complete synopsis, and to learn how to deal with rainy tennis, read Kid Tennis Hub’s guide on Tennis in the Rain.
It is wise to get your child a sports physical before starting tennis play, or really any athletic activity. Not only does this decipher any potential hidden risks, but it allows for improved peace of mind—parents don’t get enough of this. Make sure that your child knows to stop playing tennis if they start feeling any kind of pain. They should know to alert a coach immediately, before resuming play.
If you are coaching your child yourself, then ensure you are not leaving tennis balls scattered across the playing area of the court. Stepping on a tennis ball and slipping can lead to a rolled ankle, or worse. While this is much more common with middle-aged and older players, it can still be risky for juniors. A good tennis program will have coaches monitoring courts to make sure there are no such threats.
So, is Kid’s Tennis Safe or Not?
Hopefully we didn’t scare you—it doesn’t hurt to outline all the possible risks, however. Of course, tennis safety can vary on a case-by-case basis. When in doubt, talk to a professional tennis coach in person, and get the all-clear from a medical expert. That being said, I truly believe that tennis is one of the safest sports for kids out there. The non-contact element means that there are few “unexpected events,” unlike sports such as football, soccer, and basketball. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or contact Kid Tennis Hub directly.