When I was in high school I had a friend who loved tennis. He was always looking for a court, looking for someone to play with, and looking for backup duplicates of his favorite tennis racket. He tried to suck me into playing, and it almost worked. I bought a racket and would play with him occasionally. My first semester at college I took a tennis class.
I think I've played twice since then.
When I look at this scenario, I know what side I want my kids on. I don't want them to be the lazy, don't-care-about-outdoor-sports person that I was. I want them to be the addicted to tennis and soccer and running and basketball and whatever else keeps them happy, healthy, and fit.
I'm thrilled that the US Tennis Association sent us some equipment and materials about their QuickStart Tennis program which is specially designed to use fun, easy equipment and methods to teach kids to successfully learn to play and love the game.
There are programs for kids 8 and under and 10 and under (find one in your area or learn to teach your kids yourself). USTA offers Jr. Team Tennis programs that brings kids together to play singles and doubles tennis in a league. It sounds like a great way to help your kids make friends and get some fun exercise too.
The way this program is different is that the courts are smaller and the nets are lower, making it easier for kids to get the hang of the equipment.
The equipment is cool too. The balls are either foam or low compression. This means that the they bounce lower and travel slower, making it easier for kids to rally the ball. The rackets are smaller too, making it easier for little kids to handle them.
When we went to the park to try out the equipment for the first time, we had a great time. We hit some balls against the wall, tossed some balls at the kids, and tried out some of the exercises in the training manual. I have to say that my kids really loved it. Like crazy loved it. Like they'd be thrilled to play tennis every weekend if we'd let them.
And really, isn't that fantastic? Sam (my 7-year-old) in particular really loved it. And he was surprisingly good. Even on the first visit to the tennis court, he was figuring out how to hit the balls. (Trust me. He clocked me with one of them. He might be good at this game.)
I'm excited to keep working through the exercises in the training manual. And I'm hopeful that maybe tennis will be one of the sports my kids grow up to love. Just like my friend back in high school.