Ankle Biters ExtraCurriculars

Monthly Archives: March 2020

Many parents believe they must pay a professional to help their young children learn the sport of tennis. For a child to hit a moving ball with a tennis racquet, spatial awareness of where the ball ‘is going to be’ is as necessary as the hand-eye coordination to physically swing the racquet.  And since most young players change their strokes many times before they are 13 years old, a parent can initially introduce some extremely important skills to their own children without breaking the bank! For a child to learn that other objects move regardless of whether or not the child moves is crucial to their spatial development.  Young children often bump into other children, adults, and even inanimate objects they didn’t even notice.  How is a child supposed to watch a ball bounce, track where it will be in and then swing their funny little stick to strike this…

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As I discussed in the Tennis for Children: Bounce-Catch article, having a child catch a ball is probably the most basic way to introduce spatial awareness. This introduces ball tracking and the hand-eye coordination responsible for much of the skill set a young tennis player requires. As we move on from “bounce-catch” to “bounce-hit,” the timing is what translates for the child.  The child will learn to wait for the ball to bounce and enter the hitting zone before attempting to strike it with their racquet. Make it fun!  Have your child try to hit something with the ball.  This requires a bit of aim which means the child should be facing perpendicular to their target.  The phrase that I use in this situation is “point your toes.”  Pick one side of the court (or basement, or garage, or driveway) and have the child “point their toes” to that spot. …

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One of the easier concepts for a young Ankle Biter to learn (however difficult to remember) is to stand facing perpendicular to their target.  A good phrase to help the child remember how to stand in preparation for “bounce-hit” is “Point Your Toes.” This is a simple transition from the initial preparation for “bounce–catch” which expects the child to be facing you.  In that case, they will “point their toes” at you as you toss the tennis ball to them. Here are the basics for “Point Your Toes”: Have your child face you while you face your child Now your toes should be ‘pointed’ at their toes After your child learns the phrase “point your toes,” you can set them up facing any direction you wish (forehand, backhand, etc) and bounce a ball to them from other locations.  Simple reminders like “Where do you point your toes?,” “Is your racquet…

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