I am asked often about what equipment can be used when teaching 3-4 year olds tennis. I do lots of this at the moment, and there are several bits of equipment which I just wouldn’t be without – they make the lesson more fun and give the kids some success by making it easier for them – even a little 3 year old who can’t catch a ball or hit from a drop feed.
Quick disclosure – these are Amazon links, which means if you buy them, I’ll get a few pennies from Amazon – but I only recommend things that I actually use myself and work.
I’ve put a a listing for Amazon.com (US) and Amazon.co.uk, but if you are from somewhere else, I’m sure you can find something similar locally.
So here is the list of equipment, along with some ideas what to do with them.
- These float, so even a two year old can catch it.
- Throw them up in the air, the kids run and catch them. You can do two at a time, one in either hand, so two children run to catch it – or you can have one kid try to catch two of them
- The kids try to catch them on their racket
- The kids hit them with their rackets from the coach throw
- The kids can throw them up with one hand and try to hit them with their rackets (make sure you space out the kids)
See video 1 below at 12.42.
Here are some exercises to do with these:
- Simply throw & catch with the kids or they throw & catch with each other (not all 3 year olds work well in pairs though:-)
- Coach throws and kids catch them on their rackets and flip them back to coach.
- Get them to walk, run, jump, crouch down – all while keeping bean bag on racket – see video 2 below at 6.17.
- They put their rackets on the ground, stand a couple of feet away and try to throw the beanbag underarm onto their racket – win a cone each time they do.
- Balance them on their heads.
- Try to flip them to each other – use throw down lines to place them a few feet away from each other when you do this.
- You can throw these straight into the kids’ hands, so they almost can’t miss.
- Get them to catch it after a bounce.
- Throw it a bit away from them so they run and catch it after a bounce.
- Get them to throw to each other – win a cone for each catch.
- Throw to them and let them hit it with their hand – likewise with a bounce and then running.
- Hit underarm with rackets, firstly with no bounce then with a bounce.
- Get them to hit them along the ground to each other – I like to get them to each stand behind a throw-down line facing each other, with 2 cones in between them making a kind of goal – they try to score a goal by hitting the ball through the cones.
These look quite cool as well…….
Won’t work when windy.
Better than beach Balls - bouncy balls
This one is from Zsig.com, based in the UK. It took a while to find just the right one, but this one is perfect. Beach balls are ok in the perfect conditions, but they are so light that any wind at all rules them out. And they have to be really whacked hard to go anywhere.
This ball is just heavy enough to avoid that, but it is still light and very bouncy. Great for your tots and older mini tennis kids.
Make nets in seconds wherever you are – great for going into schools and making nets on the playground – without spending ages setting up mini tennis nets.
Find items like these at the pound shop / dollar store
- Agility exercises like jumping / hopping / stepping from hoop to hoop – see video 1 at 7.06.
- ‘Bumper Cars’, where the kids run arround with the hoops around their waist.
- Roll a hoop – child has to run after it and throw a ball through. See video 1 below at 17.15.
- Children try to throw a bean bag into the hoop, score a cone every time they are successful. Can also flip the bean bag with their racket. See video 2 below at 1.56.
Throw Down Lines
Vital for spacing out the kids and showing them where to stand. Try telling a group of 3 year olds to spread out and watch the comical results!
Loads of other uses such as making a ‘tightrope’ to walk along, target areas and adapting the court size.
Put your own ideas in the comments
You could get really carried away. There is all kinds of fun stuff you can get to teach this age group. I’ve just put the essentials here. But please do contribute in the comments section.