We have a game we play first and foremost before we ever get started with our lesson plans in the preschool tennis programs. This game is called “Tornado!” All we had to do was, one time, video the children playing the game and play it back for them in a ‘time lapse’ scenario and they thought it was hilarious! The ability to see yourself and your friends running around in ‘fast forward’ is quite entertaining to anyone, much less a group of preschoolers.
Here is how it works:
- First, they get in a line behind me for a game of Follow the Leader
- Next, I play the “Troll Song” (Can’t Stop the Feeling – J Timberlake) and they all start running around in a circle.
- I have now turned the children into a little kid-tornado!
While listening to the Troll Song, I tell them to follow me no matter how fast or slow I go. I start out really slow, so they giggle and possibly guess what’s coming next. Then I speed up into a jog, running around the gym in a circle singing along with Justin Timberlake.
They eventually stop following me and simply run around the gym in a relatively controlled fashion. If ever they get out of hand, and especially if they decide that running into each other is fun, I stop the music (musical chairs style) and remind them that this game has no physical contact involved and they should just be running to the music. I start the song again and they go back to running around in a circle creating their kid-tornado.
When the first few start running out of breath, I let them sit down and rest while others keep going. I ask them if they can feel their hearts beating fast and let them know that this is what we call “Warming Up.” We are getting the blood flowing and oxygen pumping, so our bodies are ready for physical activity.
I cannot wait for the day when a child, a few years into the future, after they have graduated from Ankle Biters Tennis at their preschool or elementary school, ends up on a full-size tennis court ready for their first real league, group, or academy tennis lesson. As soon as they take a few steps, having been told by the instructor to do their laps around the courts to warm up, they will realize that this is just the ‘big kid’ version of Tornado!
We do everything we can not to choose arbitrary games or expectations for the children we encounter at Ankle Biters ExtraCurriculars. Our lesson plans are not only full of fun games that the children enjoy; the games are designed to scale into their future. Tornado! is the 8 & under game that prepares them for what they will encounter as their tennis careers progress.
Good luck, and remind your child of Rule #1 for Ankle Biters Tennis:
- Never try to hit the ball with your face!