Junior tennis is back soon
The junior programme is starting up again indoors from 12 April. There will be sessions available for all ages. Sophie Butland shares some ideas here about what parents can do to prepare their children for a good start in the sport or make the restart easier for them – and spark their enthusiasm at the same time. Check out the videos on our Facebook page as well. Here's Sophie:
Hi Everyone, it’s not long now until we can all get back on the court! How exciting! I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things (excuse the pun!) and doing what I love most, coaching tennis!
A little bit about me: I grew up playing tennis in Taunton since the age of 7 years old, I then went on to play for an American university on a tennis scholarship while achieving my Exercise Science degree. And I have now been coaching in Taunton since graduating in 2017.
I have always enjoyed helping people, I love seeing people make improvements in their tennis game and I especially enjoy teaching younger children so I can give them their very first insight into the sport. I coach a range of ages throughout my coaching week, with tennis tots starting as young as 2 years old!
Tennis tots at Taunton Tennis Centre
Our pre school aged programme is a fun introduction to the sport and incorporates the early years curriculum. At this young age, a child’s development is going to vary across individuals, so at Taunton we offer a free trial to all of our junior courses, which gives little ones the opportunity to try it out. Through our fun based activities and games we encourage the development of a child’s fundamental movement skills categorised below
Balloon tennis is one of my favourite activities to do with children at this age. It is a simple yet very effective way for children to develop their gross motor skills and can easily be done from home while having lots of fun. Parents can encourage their child to keep the balloon in the air by tapping it up with their hands, this is an effective way of developing hand eye coordination. You can then challenge your child to use one hand only or progress to using various body parts to keep the balloon in the air. If you do not have a tennis racket at home you can always get creative and encourage your child to build one (wooden spoon with a paper plate) they can then colour/decorate it to make it their own.
Throwing and catching skills can easily be developed at home, without necessarily having to use balls and cause potential breakages! You can keep your child entertained by using soft toys/teddy’s and under-arm throwing them into various coloured containers. Which would also help to work on their colour recognition. Rolling skills can be developed with the use of household objects, for example a game of skittles with empty tin cans.
Floor tennis is another great activity for children at this age. Children will be able to work on both receiving and sending skills while grasping the concept of rallying in tennis. As the warmer weather is approaching, this would be a fun exercise to do in the garden/on the driveway. You can begin by rolling a ball to each other, encouraging your child to stop the ball and then roll it back. This can be developed into a handball game where you tap it back and forth while encouraging your child to count. Rackets can then be introduced with a control stop (racket strings on top of the ball) and then a gentle tap back. Your child might then be able to progress to a floor tennis rally without a control stop while counting and trying to achieve a high score while keeping the ball inside a zone set out with cones.
These are just a few ideas that I like to incorporate into our tennis tots sessions. Our sessions not only encourage children’s physical skills but also social skills which certainly would have been affected due to lockdowns. In our courses, children will learn to work collaboratively with other children and also develop their self confidence and self esteem. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more about our tennis sessions for pre school aged children. We’d love to see some new faces!
I look forward to seeing everyone on court again soon and hopefully it won’t be long before the sun is shining and Covid is a thing of the past! Stay positive :)
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