Tennis for Children: Smash!
Many of the compliments we have received from other teaching professionals have to do with the transition timing we have built in to our lesson plans. We have developed a few games for children (and adults who like to improve their game) can play after emptying a basket of tennis balls but before going to pick them all up.
One of my favorites is called “Smash!” After hitting a basket of Forehands and Backhands, or especially after working on the serve, play a quick game of “Hockey” to roll all of the tennis balls into the net (on one end or the other). Now, here is what you do:
- Place the racquet in your child’s strong hand
- Have them set it on their shoulder, behind their head (like a serve)
- Place the ball in your child’s weak hand
- Palm up, have them attempt to toss the ball straight up
- Stand close to the net (preferably at a 45-90 degree angle) where all of the tennis balls have collected after your previous drill
- Your child should toss the ball up over their head (exactly like Catchy Bug) and Smash! it over the net.
Once the child has been able to accomplish Catchy Bug they will now have physically been shown the “point of contact” we will use for Smash! Using the same set up, racquet behind the head, elbow pointed to the fence behind them and non-dominant hand holding out the ball ready to toss over their head, they can Smash! the rest of the tennis balls over the net. And after this, all of your tennis balls should be on one end of the tennis court and a bit easier to collect before your next drill.
Smash! can offer adjusted targets for different abilities depending on your lesson plans. For example:
- Have beginner players work to increase racquet speed by having them attempt to hit the ball past a certain spot on the court
- Push intermediate players to use the Continental Grip during Smash! so they can work through the awkward phase with higher success rate
- Bet your more advanced players that they cannot Smash! the ball “over the fence” (after a bounce, of course) to encourage wrist snap and racquet speed
Definitely offer more ideas in the comment section as we are always looking to learn ways to help kids improve their abilities as well as having fun!
Good luck, and remind your child of Rule #1 for Ankle Biters Tennis:
- Never try to hit the ball with your face!
SjB – Sept 2019