With the Australian Open about to kick off, it’s a great time to talk about how kids can get involved in the iconic game.
Todd Woodbridge was one half of ‘The Woodies’ with Mark Woodforde, one of the most successful doubles teams in history. They won 11 Grand Slams and five straight Wimbledon titles, as well as gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
As a child, Todd used to watch his mum play tennis and would run onto the court to have a hit when they’d finished. Here are Todd’s tips for introducing kids to the game he loves.
Listen to Todd on Kinderling Conversation:
What age can kids start?
Children can begin playing tennis as early as three years of age. ANZ Tennis Hot Shots has created a program where kids go through four stages of tennis with smaller courts, nets, racquets and balls. Younger children first use a red ball that’s softer and easier to hit. After progressing through the different levels, at age 10 or 11, kids start playing with what’s called a ‘tournament ball’ that professional players use at the Australian Open.
What skills can they learn?
Tennis is great for developing kids’ mechanical motor neurone skills. They learn how to bounce a ball on a racquet, roll a ball along the ground and jump over boundary lines on the court. All these exercises help children improve their fitness, hand-eye coordination and motor skills.
What are the benefits of playing sport?
In addition to getting outdoors and getting physically active, tennis is a great social sport for kids to take part in. They can learn to play against people of different ages socially, and can go on to play competitively.
How do you get non-sporty kids into sports?
It really depends on the child. Encourage them to try a range of different activities - both solo and team sports - so that they can find something they like. Kids love to be active so get them out in the park, kick balls, chase balls and run around with your child. Doing this gives them the best head start.
If you’re keen to introduce your child to tennis, Hot Shots is the perfect way to get them involved and is now in over 1,500 schools across Australia. If your child has a flat, open space available to them, like a playground or basketball court, tennis can be an option. To find a qualified Tennis Australia coach near you, head to the Hot Shots website.
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