Teaching children to play sports from an early age gives them the opportunity tosocialise, improve coordination and stay fit and well. However, teaching young children to master a sport, whilst still finding it fun and engaging can be a daunting task.
Henry Emery is a tennis coach who has been playing the sport for over 18 years, and coaching for four. With his wealth of experience, he now teaches tennis forfamily holidays specialist Mark Warner, at the Perdepera Beach Resortin Sardinia. With his extensive experience of coaching tennis players of all ages, he knows some of the best ways to encourage children to play and develop a lifelong passion for the game.
From what age do you think children can start learning to play tennis, and why?
Any age from three years old is a great time to start. Itís from this age that theyíre able to begin learning hand eye coordination, which will help them progress in this sport and others as they get older.
What is the best way to get them started?
Itís important to keep the sessions as fun as possible, with lots of energy to get them involved with the joys of tennis. Teach them different shots and then create fun games using each technique, so that they can practice in an enjoyable way.
What materials will they need to learn at home?
The minimum would be a tennis ball to improve hand eye coordination by practising catching or getting used to the bounce of a ball. They could also practise with a tennis racket playing against a wall at home.
What part of the game are they most likely to struggle with, and how would you overcome this?
The serve is definitely the toughest for them. Children are not used to using hand eye coordination above their eye level. To deal with this you will need to break the serve up into smaller sections and working on this over a few sessions so that you donít bore or dishearten the child. †
What are the benefits for children of playing tennis?
Itís great to get involved with such a social game at a young age, especially if learning and playing with the family. It will teach hand eye coordination which can be used across many different sports. Itís also is very beneficial for childrenís health and encourages them to run around and play.
What would be your top three tips for the parents of children hoping to learn tennis?
Regularly playing tennis with your children is important as it keeps them focused and helps engage them too. Keep them enthusiastic and committed to the sport because once they stop it is very difficult to get back into it. They may need some initial support financially for all the necessary equipment, but this is definitely worth it for all of the benefits offered by the sport.
What are the benefits for parents of encouraging their children to play tennis on holiday?
They have a chance to learn a new skill, when they may not previously had the chance, which could then encourage them to continue the sport when they get home. It also gives parents the chance to enjoy some time playing tennis or relaxing by themselves for a few hours!
How is the Perdepera Beach Resort set up for families and those hoping to learn tennis?
Itís very secluded so very peaceful. Itís also not the largest resort, so not too crowded but it still has a wide variety of sports on offer. The resort also offers brand new, up-to-date equipment and qualified professional coaches, teaching in usually perfect weather conditions.
Whatís your favourite thing about tennis coaching?
I love†interacting with people every day and watching them improve with each lesson. Itís a very sociable job, and really rewarding too.
Mark Warner has led the way in activity holidaysfor over 30 years. Specialising in family holidays, Mark Warner packages provide superb childcare with kids clubs†for all ages and free evening crŤche service. For more information, visit www.markwarner.co.uk.† †