Finding the right tennis coach is critical not only in teaching your child to play tennis but determining if your child stays in the sport after their first introduction. It's often said a child will like the coach before they like the sport.
The number one reason kids want to play tennis is fun. But what's fun for kids, and how can the coach provide a fun experience for your child? Fun is different to each child, but here are the top characteristics that make sport fun for children:
- Learning something that interests them
- Being with friends
- Being with people who care about them
- Being involved and included
- Belonging and being recognized
- Seeing progress
With these characteristics in mind, it makes sense that you are looking for a coach who cares, motivates and includes all kids in the practice session. They should also run an active practice for groups of children where they can play and develop skills.
In this country we have two certifying associations for tennis teaching professionals, the United States Professional Tennis Association and the Professional Tennis Registry. Certified tennis professionals have all passed a series of tests for their certification. Note: Even if you can find a certified professional, make sure the pro specializes in introductory children's lessons and places kids on teams or in groups of youngsters of a similar age and ability level.
There are literally thousands of other people who are great coaches of children. Many high school or middle school coaches conduct summer programs at school or park courts and are excellent with both children and groups. These coaches generally live in the community and many have conducted successful programs for a number of years.
As long as you focus on the fun aspect, and find a coach who does the same, you'll give your child the best chance to enjoy tennis not just as a sport -- but as a lifelong activity to stay fit and have fun.
This article was written by Kirk R. Anderson of the United States Tennis Association . Anyone interested in working with young tennis players should check out the workshop offered by the United States Tennis Association for entry-level coaches.