10U10S FAQ

Statistics tell us 96% of tennis parents have never had a child in tennis. 80% of tennis parents have never played themselves. With this in mind, I have put together this list of Frequently Asked Questions about junior tennis instruction. I hope you find it useful.

How do I choose the right program for my child?
It depends on what your player’s goals are; for example, participation/fun or performance/high level competition. Also consider what level player your child is and their personal learning preferences. Some players are more at home in a group setting. Some prefer one-on-one. You want to look for an instructor with the right combination of professional development and personal connection. Your child’s instructor should hold a professional instruction certification. In the U.S. typically this will be from the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) or the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA). They should be someone your child will enjoy spending time with on court.

What is the cost of junior tennis instruction?
Instruction costs vary widely. In my area, group clinics range from around $7-10 per child per hour. Private lessons are $45-65 per hour. In my experience group clinics are comparable to other recreational sports league costs such as soccer, tee-ball, football, etc. 

How often should my child be taking lessons?
Rule of thumb is to play three times per week or more to maintain or improve tennis skills. However, this does not necessarily mean three clinics. It could be one clinic combined with two family trips to the local tennis court!

What equipment is needed?
Like any sport, there are lots of tennis goodies available and plenty of people out there wanting to sell them to you. But there are really only two things your child will need to get started in tennis: their own racquet and a pair of non-marking athletic sneakers. 

Junior racquets now come in various sizes: 17", 19", 21", 23" and 25" in length. The size should roughly corresponds to your player's size/height and what type of ball and court they will be playing on. Check with your child’s instructor for help purchasing the correct racquet size for your child. Avoid the temptation to 'size up' the racquet so that your player can 'grow into it' (and you can save money by getting more years out of the racquet). Yes, dads, I am talking to you. A racquet that is too large or too heavy will hinder your player's progress and may result in them giving up on tennis completely. Starter racquets are inexpensive, in the $20 range.

Most sneakers these days are non-marking, regardless of the color of their soles. If you are not sure, take a white piece of paper and drag the sole across it. If it leaves a mark, don't wear them to the tennis court. When you first start out, any type of comfortable non-marking sneakers will do. But be aware there are tennis-specific shoes made in junior sizes. They are less grippy than running shoes and therefore less likely to result in ankle sprains. Also be aware if your player is playing on clay courts rather than hard courts, there are shoes specifically designed for clay courts as well.

What's with the different types of balls?
When you think of tennis balls, you probably think of the bright yellow felt balls you toss
for your dog to fetch. When new, they are very bouncy and very fast. Young players have a hard time making any progress in tennis using those things. It is comparable to having a five-year-old shooting baskets at a 10-foot high goal or playing on a 100-yard long soccer field - possible, but difficult. Like many other sports, tennis has adjusted the playing area and equipment to better fit the player. We now have different sizes/colors/compressions of balls to aid in the instruction process. Young players may start with oversize foam or red felt balls on a small 36-foot court. At about age 8-10, they may be playing with orange balls on a 60 foot court. Finally, at age 11+ they are ready for the full 78-foot court and green or yellow (traditional) tennis balls.By using this progression method of instruction, players are able to ramp up faster, and have more fun doing it. 

How can I tell that my child is improving?
Modern instruction philosophy is to get your child rallying and playing as soon as possible, as opposed to the olden days when perfecting technique was the top priority. Research now tells us if too much time is spent acquiring a pretty swing, players find this boring and leave the sport before they discover the fun of playing. ‘Rally’ is the ability to hit a ball back and forth with another player. By playing, we mean earning points and determining a beginning and ending point to the activity (winning/losing). We also expect them to understand the basics of tennis such as scoring and tennis etiquette.

Tennis is hard. It requires complex physical skills like throwing, catching, tracking, hitting, quick reflexes, and good decision-making. It may be a while before players can perform what you think of as traditional tennis play. You may also see peaks and valleys and long periods of not much happening followed by seemingly instant breakthroughs. The key is consistency. Practice with a purpose, and it will pay off.

What can I do in between lessons to help my child improve?
There are many activities coaches can suggest as your child’s ‘tennis homework’. Ask your child’s instructor for tips on which activities to work on between lessons. Or, search the hundreds of activities on this blog for activities that can be done off court.