4 key ways to keep young kids engaged at their tennis lesson.
Children between the ages of 3 and 6 year old’s are often nervous about being away from mum or dad, have very little control over their emotions and a limited attention span.
So this is where you need to bring in everything you have got to keep them listening, having fun and as a bonus, learning something. You can be the best tennis player in the world but if you can’t get them engaged with what your saying, doing and playing, then they will lose interest in the sport.
1.Use their name
This should seem obvious but an important place to start. Learn their name and then use their name every possible chance you can. “Well done Billy” or “Sitting down please Polly” is essential to get and maintain their attention. It helps them trust you and is a sign of respect to them as young people. Mostly though it helps them keep their wandering attention on you and what you are delivering. So not only will you enjoy a better lesson but the child and their parents will appreciate the fact that you have made the effort to learn, use and memorise their name.
2. Get down to their level
Now this actually both literal and figuratively. Use words that they understand. Keep your communication simple and clear and emphasize the right words at the right time to keep them excited and ready for what is happening next. Also though when gathering for a chat with your student or group of students, always drop down to their ‘physical’ level also. Towering over your students is not a great strategy. I mean if you as an adult are standing and listening to something 3 times bigger than you, that would be quite odd right? and hard to pay attention to. So if they sitting down, sit down with them. If they are standing up, then kneel down to their level and then face to face talk talk about the lesson.
3. Use your imagination!
Don’t be a boring adult and use boring explanations. Instead of saying standing side on with your feet aligned, say things like stand on a skateboard or surfboard. Instead of saying jump up as high as you can, say jump up and grab a cloud and bring it back down. Instead of talking about hitting red tennis balls, talk about squashing some raspberries. Important though to not constantly change these imaginative explanations but use them as a fun way to learn, remember and have fun.
4. Movement, evolution and flow
Being a good tennis coach means making sure there is constant movement and flow from doing the activity, to picking up balls to having a drink and straight into a new (already set up by the coach) activity. So try and structure your lesson so the kids feel they are evolving to new stages and make sure that it all flows from warm up to the main part of the lesson to the warm down.
As a tennis coach you are indeed running something similar to a stage show. The curtains open when the kids walk out and its your job to keep their attention through the show