Over the past few months we have received a ton of great questions from parents regarding their child’s development as a tennis player and what are the best practices. With this post, we aim to shine more light on what we have learned from our own experience as well as from various sources.
1. How many times should a child practice each week?
a. Below is advice as provided by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for Junior Tennis players (Tennisconsult.com).
6-8 years olds: 3-4 sessions a week, each session no longer than 45 minutes. Group lessons, practice on mini court. 50% tennis – 50% other sports. Soccer, handball, basketball, swimming, etc.
9-11 years olds: 1 hour, 3-4 times a week. 70% tennis – 30% other sport.
12-14 years olds: 2-3 hours a day, 4-5 times a week of group lessons. 85% tennis – 15% other sport.
15-16 year old (intermediate level): 3-4 hours of training a day, 4-5 times a week.
16-18 year old (advanced level): 3-4 hours a day, 5-6 times a week.
2. When should my child specialize in tennis (or any other sport)?
a. There are several studies regarding when the appropriate time to specialize in a sport is. It’s easy to look at certain stars of their respective sport such as LeBron James and Tiger Woods and assume that early specialization in a sport is the only way to reach one’s potential. Furthermore, it has been proven to not only lead to one-dimensional athletes but also cause a player to become more injury prone. While many studies vary slightly on the optimal time to specialize on a sport, most agree that late adolescence (Around age 16) is the time when most athletes have developed the physical, social, Emotional, and motor skills needed to effectively specialize in a sport (Long-Term Athlete Development, Balyi, Way, Higgs)
3. What should the parent’s role be in their child’s practice?
a. No matter which sport you think about, parents play a substantial role in the development of their child’s athletic ability, but not in the way that most assume. One success story that highlights this fact in tennis is that of Canadian Milos Raonic (#3 in the world). He is known for continually crediting his success to his parents for not knowing anything about tennis (National Post).
According to tennisconsult.com, it’s important for tennis parents to realize that the emphasis for a young child playing sports should be on developing their social skills rather than their athletic skills. Furthermore, as cliché as it sounds, they should be excited to go to practice.
Furthermore, sports psychologists agree that the car ride home is not the time to coach your child on how they can improve on the court, especially if they lose a match. Children respond differently to these situations but the general conclusion is that it is more discouraging than helpful (More information).
4. When can my child start playing tournaments?
a. Many of you may have noticed that we use different colored balls and various sizes of racquets. This trend follows the USTA 10u rules and to learn more about where to sign up click the link below.
We hope that this information is helpful and if you have any questions about what we covered today or would like us to address another subject, do not hesitate letting us know!
Until next time,
Steven and Sam