What is the Ideal Age for Children to Begin Playing Tennis?

What Is The Ideal Age For Children To Begin Playing Tennis?

Children can excel at sports when they start at a young age.

It doesn’t matter what it is: football, soccer, hockey, basketball or tennis, they’re going to grow with the sport while their brain develops.

At a certain point, it becomes increasingly difficult to learn new skills when you’re an adult.

It’s not impossible, but having a primer during your younger years would make the world of difference.

There’s something called muscle memory, which kids develop if they grow up with a sport.

It’s literal memory in your muscles, which reacts to specific consistent movements over a period of time in the most efficient way possible.

You don’t want to run your kid completely ragged while trying to teach them tennis, but if you start them now, you can watch them do exceptionally well in the coming years.

Let’s start with what age you should start them out at.

What is a Good Age to Start Tennis?

Group Of Kids In Tennis

It all starts with the interest.

If they’re two-years-old and they want to start, let them start, what’s it going to hurt?

Children love to imitate their heroes, and they’re able to identify a passion.

Children respond best to happy emotions, and what’s going to make you, the tennis-playing parent, happier than doing what you love most?

Kids pick up on that, which is how their interest grows.

There are racket sizes that go all the way down to being fit for one-year-olds, so you don’t have to worry about the racket being too top-heavy or anything like that.

We’ll talk more about the sizes later, but for now, it suffices to say that their interest will guide their love for tennis.

If your child isn’t really interested in any sport and you want to get them involved, that’s a very good thing.

You can start them out at age six if you’re just trying to introduce them to tennis.

Without a core interest before that point, it will be like pulling teeth to try and get them to pay attention.

Kids like what they like.

How do You Make Tennis Fun for Kids?

Kids Playing Tennis

There are a few exercises you can do to make it fun for them while still having them train a whole bunch. Those include:

Catch Me If You Can

This one’s a bit silly, but it’s very fun for kids. Bounce the ball and tap it with your racket so it goes close to the net, while each of you stands on the far end of the court.

The first one to get the ball is the winner. Keep a score going so they can get used to it when they start playing tennis the right way.

Target Practice

Bring some empty 2-liter bottles or traffic cones or something, and put them against the backboard.

You can teach your little one how to serve the ball while they aim to hit these targets and knock them over.

If they knock five targets over, they win.

You can set up a reward system here depending on their age and engagement with this activity, but usually winning will be enough to keep them entertained.

Have them challenge themselves by trying to knock over the targets without missing anything.

Bounce Back

Stand with them and knock the tennis ball on the ground so that it bounces off the backboard.

It’s their responsibility to hit it back against the board and see how many times they can hit it without missing.

Keep a running tab on their number of successful hits and keep it as a scoring system.

Try to remember their high score and slowly pull back from the backboard so they have longer strides and need more power to get it to bounce, gradually training them.

How Many Hours Should Your Kid Train?

Young Boy Playing Tennis

Everyone wants to get better at tennis, so you need to practice.

Kids will take things to an extreme, so you need to make sure they’re not overdoing it, but that they’re still progression.

For newcomers who don’t know how much they like the sport yet, they should practice one to two times per week, for 60-90 minutes per session.

This gives them time to decide if they like it without overwhelming them at all.

At this point, it’s just a fun activity that they get to do and there’s no pressure to perform or be something they don’t want to be.

If they enjoy the sport and they’ve already done a full term of tennis camp, or they’ve been playing for a year and still love the game, three to four times per week for 60-90 minute sessions is perfectly okay.

You’re indulging in their interests and letting them do what they want, but it’s still something that’s a life skill and that give them athletic attributes.

There’s nothing wrong with this.

Some kids are intense though, and they just want to do their favorite thing as often as possible.

These are dedicated athletes in the making.

They have focus, drive, determination; you want to foster that while still being wary of pushing them too far.

Five to six times per week for 60-minute sessions are perfectly okay here.

If you have your own DIY tennis court at home, then just let them use it recreationally.

When we were all kids and running around outside, we’d play for 3-4 hours on end and still want more.

If it’s that fun for them and you have a safe place on your own property for them to play, let them go nuts.

Practice makes perfect.

What Size Tennis Racquet Should I Buy for My Child?

Tennis Rackets On The Wall

Junior tennis racquet sizes have basically five different age ranges and averages specs.

These are those five sizes, with brief descriptions as to why they’re good at this age and developmental level.

  • Age 1-4: Children will see appropriate racket sizes between 18” to 19”, with an average head size of about 90 square inches. These offer great weight distribution for your children to begin learning on.
  • Age 4-5: At 21”, these rackets are slightly bigger, but the head size usually stays the same at around 90 square inches. Consider this like taking the training wheels off by putting a slightly longer handle on a similar racket that they’re used to.
  • Age 6-7: 23” rackets start seeing surface sizes of about 100 square inches of string, giving them a slightly wider angle to be able to hit the ball from. This is the last age where the prices remain low for new rackets.
  • Age 8-10: 25” rackets are already very close to the normal size that adults use, which is 27”. This can be a bit of a leap for them as they have to learn how to handle the new weight and length in tandem. It’s a learning curve, but if you’ve upgraded them throughout the years it won’t be that difficult.
  • Age 10-12: 26” rackets are the last step. Slightly more length mixed with almost ounce-for-ounce weight comparisons to adult-sized tennis rackets, which they will upgrade to when they turn thirteen.

Are All Junior Tennis Rackets the Same?

Three Junior Tennis Rackets

Not at all.

There aren’t a lot of disparities between different racket types, but the brand really matters here.

For instance, one of the best junior rackets is the Wilson US Open Junior racket, and not because it’s vastly different from every other racket, but it’s the quality.

Kids are tough on just about everything they own.

They’re still learning how to be gentle.

These are made for dropping and huge dings in the side without getting majorly damaged, which is what makes them so perfect.

The important thing to keep in mind is that your child is going to outgrow their junior rackets pretty fast.

They go through five sizes alone just until they’re a teenager, so you don’t have to shell out the big bucks when they’re little.

While no two junior rackets are the same, there are enough similarities that you can keep things cheap.

Because of the narrow market age, almost all junior rackets use nylon or polyester strings and aluminum frames, keeping them durable and perfect for kids to use.

You won’t find any super-high tension natural gut strings on kids’ rackets.

Skill Building from a Young Age

All skills should be developed from a young age, and tennis is no exception.

You can expect to find a wide variety of resources available on this site to help find the perfect junior racket for your child so that they aren’t discouraged or endure any arm/wrist pain while playing.

Have them hone their skills now so that later on, they’ll be naturals at the game.

You never know if they’re going to go pro one day, but if they do, they’ll have this early learning and you to thank for it.

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