Judy Murray has shared her top tennis tips for kids to help you teach your children all the skills they’ll need for the game. So if your little ones like tennis, and other ball games, take a look at the advice below. They’ll be the next Wimbledon champion in no time!
Good posture in sport is critical, as it allows for greater mobility, stability and force production. Nowadays kids spend so much time sitting in front of screens that it’s easy to slip into bad postural habits, so parents and teachers must help to set good examples. A great way to develop your child’s balance is to play fun games that encourage good posture. For example – walking with a bean bag on your head. Then progress to running. Turn it into a race to make it competitive. Or walking on a piece of rope or a balance beam, arms outstretched. These will help to keep the head still and the shoulders back.
Coordination is closely linked to your mental organisational ability. That sounds a bit heavy but I describe it as setting a physical challenge that you have to work out mentally. All sports involve arms and legs moving at the same time and require good coordination in both the left and right sides of the body. Whatever exercises you choose, they should be challenging and tailored to the individual. For example – skipping is the perfect way to build coordination skills and get fit at the same time! It involves controlling a simple piece of equipment – a rope – and involves arms and legs, left and right sides, rhythm, timing, balance and concentration.
Agility in a nutshell is focused around athletic reaction time. Fast footwork, speed off the mark and change of direction are key components of agility. Exercises to improve this must incorporate speed and quickness, balance training and keeping good posture. The best way to develop agility in young kids is to create obstacle courses, using all sorts of household items to create challenges to get over, under, through and around. If you turn the obstacle course into a race against the clock, you will develop speed and fun competition. Make sure you have a starting line and an end point that involves scoring a goal, running trough a finishing tape, or landing a ball or bean bag in a bucket.
Passing and catching
The art of passing and catching is crucial for all ball sports and is an exercise of judging and controlling height, distance, speed, depth and spin. Start by throwing and catching a soft toy or cushion at close range. With each successful catch, move a step back to increase the distance. Progress to a smaller soft toy, a bean bag or a large play ball. Then move on to a smaller ball.
Then try to throw and catch after a bounce. Try to throw the ball in a rainbow shape and make it bounce in front of your partner. Increase the distance with each successful catch.
Then add some movement. Throw to the side of your partner so they have to take one step to catch it.
Learn to throw and catch first, then add movement to and from the ball – side to side movement. And forwards/backwards movement. If your child can move to and from a bouncing ball and throw/catch, they will be ready to play most ball sports.