Monday, February 4, 2013

Low Compression Balls = Instant Tennis

Low compression
to the rescue!
True story, just happened over the weekend and I wanted to share it with you as anecdotal evidence demonstrating why I support the use of low compression balls to introduce 99% of junior newcomers to the game of tennis. (For those of you new to my blog, I have discussed this teaching technique in a previous blog entry. )

Recently as I rolled my teaching cart to my regular teaching court, I found two young boys already there. As I later discovered, they were about 8 and 10, flat-out beginners. They had racquets and a couple of yellow balls and were trying to play a little bit. Their 'play' went like this:

  • player bounces ball
  • player hits ball
  • ball goes in net - or - ball goes over net somewhere
  • opponent swings and misses - or - hits out - or hits into net
  • player retrieves yellow ball
  • repeat

I walked over to the adult who was standing outside the court observing them. She was their aunt and had brought them by to play tennis for fun. They had expressed interest in learning the game and even had two brand new racquets to try it out with.

I had a few minutes to kill before my lesson, so I inserted myself into the process. I sent both boys onto the same side of the net and set up across from them. But before I started hitting with them, I grabbed a couple of red felt low compression balls from my cart. Folks, I am not kidding when I say we went from zero rallies to instant rallies by the second ball. Sure, it was mini-tennis and it wasn't exactly championship form, but we were rallying! I wish you could have seen those boys' attitudes improve instantly. Gone were the slumped shoulders and frowns, replaced by lots of activity darting around the court and plenty of smiles and laughs. When two of my regular students showed up, I plugged them into my spot and went over to chat with the boys' aunt while the four kids played mini-tennis together. They had a ball.

When it was time for my lesson to begin, they graciously agreed to move to another court. I sent some red as well as orange balls with them so they could at least enjoy some rallies rather than chase a yellow ball all over the court. As they left with their aunt, I heard them ask if they could stay for the lesson.

These two young beginners' first experience on the tennis court went from disaster to delight in about 30 seconds, all due to a low compression ball.

I am not telling you this as part of a feel-good marketing scheme. Notice there were no 30-second spots featuring Clydesdales or astronauts. So there was no happy ending for the pro, with auntie shelling out big bucks for tons of lessons for her two nephews. But the chances of those kids pursuing their interest in tennis, at least short term, are 100% IMO. Without the low compression balls, no way. And that's happy ending enough for me.