From little things big things grow
Tennis, if nothing else, provides a skill that can used for the next 80 years. Tennis really is for everyone, boy or girl, man or woman, big or small. Parents who give their children the opportunity to be a part of a tennis school or academy are setting their kids up for a lifetime of tennis benefits. There are different pathways for a tennis player and these pathways can carry from being a young HotShots player through to a retiree in their 70’s.
Pathways of tennis
Level 1 – Activity
Level 2 – Social
Level 3 – Club
Level 4 – Performance
Tennis is a great activity to learn and a great sport to play and meet new friends. It may be something done seasonally to balance out with other sports and activities or as something for kids to try to see how they enjoy the sport. The aim is to make tennis a fun activity that encourages kids to play more regularly.
Playing regular tennis
Trying tennis is a great place to start, however, by stopping and starting tennis lessons, it can be difficult to refine the technical skills, perception skills and game strategy of the sport. Once young tennis players play once or twice a week throughout the school year, they get the repetition and momentum required to enjoy the benefits of a longer term tennis pathway.
Level 1 – Activity
The Activity pathway is a great way to get out of the house, move around, try some skills and catch up with a friend.
As a child, the Activity pathway involves enrolling into a term of Hotshots tennis before changing to a different sport for winter and taking 6 months off tennis before starting again or perhaps it is the child who does 1 to 3 years of tennis lessons and then stops.
As a teenager the Activity pathway will see them get occasional tennis fever (normally around Australian Open time) and they will play with a friend a couple of times a year or on family holidays.
As an adult the Activity pathway will be similar to the teenage pathway in that tennis serves as a spontaneous activity to do. This would similar to how going ten pin bowling would look to others.
Level 2 – Social
The Social pathway is a great way to have regular exercise and fun with a sound understanding of how to play the game.
As a child, the Social player is when a child enrols in a yearly tennis program doing 1 -2 hotshots tennis sessions per week and also plays with their friend or mum and dad occasionally. They will likely participate in club social tournament days. They would do between 1 – 3 hours per week.
As a teenager, the Social player will do a weekly group lesson or private group with friends as well as possibly doing an adult Cardio Tennis session or hit with a friend once a week. The Social pathway will see them stop for weeks at a time when out of school routine and they may hardly play in the holidays. They would do between 2 to 4 hours per week when they are in school routine.
As an adult, the Social player would be a once a week night tennis class or cardio tennis or perhaps once a weekend on a Saturday afternoon for club social tennis play. Tennis would be a part of the Social player’s lifestyle but as a regular fun activity rather than a goal driven/competitive passion found in the Club and Performance pathway.
Level 3 – Club
The Club pathway is a great way to stay fit, get the most out of yourself and play and compete with other like minded players. Play in a team, play tournaments and look at all the ways that you can improve your game.
As a child, the Club player is when a child enrols in a yearly program with two Hotshots tennis sessions per week and they are a year or two into their game they do some 30 minute or 1 hour regular private lessons. They represent the club in pennants, play in match play days and club through to state level tournaments. They would do a minimum of 4 hours a week up to 8 hours, 2-4 days per week.
As a teenager, the Club player will be a part of a squad program and team pennant training sessions. They may also have school tennis commitments and will play high up in their school teams. They would do regular private training and would play in several tournaments per year during school holiday time. They would play a minimum of 6 hours per week up to 12 hours, 4-5 days per week.
As an adult, the Club player would represent a club team and play in pennant tennis. They may also play in other tennis competitions and often many will keep playing tournaments on the veterans aged tennis tournament series for those 35 and older. Tennis is the number 1 or 2 passion in this persons life and they love to practice, improve and play.
Level 4 – Performance
The Performance pathway is a great way to dedicate yourself to a sport and become an athlete. This is where it is more than a hobby and a part of who you are. Play in state level through to international level tournaments and treat every facet of tennis as areas to constantly improve.
As a child, the Performance player is the child who starts in two Hotshots tennis sessions per week. Once a year or two into their game, they do some 30 minute or 1 hour regular private lessons. They will be selected in special squad programs with kids of a similar age and programs will be made up and customised to suit the player at the age and stage they are at. They will have a training regime with specific times of the year for peaking in their performance as well as for dedicated rest weeks. The Performance player would in most cases start at 11 years old through to 14 years old.
As a teenager, the Performance player will be a part of a program which includes regular private training, physical and mental training and custom on court sessions. They will be be travelling a minimum of twice per year to play in national tournaments and will play in a minimum of 10 tournaments each year. For the 14 year old performance player they would play a minimum of 10 hours per week up to 20 hours per week including physical conditioning and other off court preparation.
As an adult, the Performance player would be aiming to reach a minimum of a college tennis scholarship in the USA or to play on the tennis circuit at either a low tier (AMT – Satellite – Challenger) through to the top tier of the Pro Tour. Tennis will often return something financially such as a scholarship or through incentives to play German Club Tennis or other A level competitions. More attractive tournament prize money will be earned by some who have risen to the higher end of this level. Tennis is a career at this point and is treated as a full time occupation. Some level of travel will be required at this level, interstate and internationally.
Scarborough Tennis Academy
At my tennis academy in Scarborough, we aim to get as many kids as possible to try tennis or play regular tennis. Our job is to expose the sport to as many kids as possible. We do love to see kids moving up to the social, club and performance pathways as we know the real lifelong benefits of tennis come with a level of commitment and consistency in playing.
What is the end goal?
- Understanding of what a healthy life is.
- Understanding of what an active life is.
- Understanding of how to take up a challenge and problem solve.
- A connection with other like-minded people who also like to play the game.
The Art of Tennis