Working with Red ballers
Red ball is the first level of a young tennis player. Some of these kids have done almost no skill development and also may not have done any type of group activity/sport before. There is a balance of ensuring that we are teaching them tennis whilst also developing their core motor skills and movement.
So what to work on?
1. Motor skill development
This can be things like catching in a bucket, using beanbags to catch and pass to each other. Practicing throwing overarm or using a soccer ball to practice ball type throws.
2. Rally skills
Work on rally skills as this is what tennis is all about. Rally skills are absolutely essential. This can start with Train Tennis (rallying along the ground) and evolve to rallying over the net. If your not using a mini net then wind the net down so its easier for them to get the ball over.
As tennis instructors, we still need to explicitly teach tennis skills. So by picking either forehand, backhand, serve or volley. we need to instruct the children into the right technique. Always avoid long lines when doing this and you can easily combine ‘Tennis skills’ with ‘Skill development’ by having 2 or 3 hitting and 2 or 3 catching down the other end. Cheese sticks/markers must be used for this to avoid any accidents.
The Donkey Drop is the essential forehand practice which they can do themselves.
Movement can be running, jumping, hopping, skipping etc. Very important for kids at this age to learn and do. You can combine movement with a game. Space invaders or the line game or a relay type race. You can also combine movement with motor skills and also tennis skills. Be creative and combine as many as possible while still making it fun for the kids.
So how much of each one should you do?
- 30 minute class – 5 min motor skills, 10 min rally skills, 10 min tennis skill, 5 min movement.
- 45 minute class – 7.5 min motor skills, 15 min rally skills, 15 min tennis skill, 7.5 min movement.
Scarborough Tennis Academy