Would you like to enrol your child in tennis lessons, or has your child caught the tennis bug themselves and keeps wanting to play?
Tennis is quite a technical sport and requires patience, commitment and lots of practise to master. It’s also crucial that your child learns the important fundamentals of the game and is taught proper technique from the start so they don’t form bad habits that can be hard to unlearn as they get older.
Finding a good coach or tennis coaching clinic in your area is very important at these early stages. Depending on your own level of tennis knowledge, it can be difficult to know if your child is being taught the proper techniques and match fundamentals. So, this short article will educate you on some of the most important first lessons your child should be taught when starting to learn tennis.
This way you can talk to your child’s coach to ensure they’re learning good habits, and also that you are not wasting your money on poor quality coaching.
Correct Tennis Stance For Ground strokes
When playing groundstrokes (forehand and backhand after the ball has bounced) your stance is one of the most important elements in hitting the ball with accuracy and power.
The three main stances used in modern tennis are:
- Closed Stance
- Open Stance
- Semi Open Stance
Most modern players have their own preferred stances but ALL will use a variety of these stances at one time or another depending on the type of shot they are playing, the height and speed of the ball as it approaches and their position in the court.
It’s now more common for modern coaches to teach semi-stance or open stance as this allows the player to have their body and head facing in the direction of the approaching ball. More traditional coaches will often teach the closed stance as this helps beginners to learn proper shoulder and upper body rotation.
There’s no one correct type of stance, but it’s important that your child is taught all the variations so they can be prepared for any situation and also eventually choose a style that feels comfortable for them.
How To Grip The Racket
As with stance, there are many variations on how to grip the racquet for forehands, backhands, serves and volleys. Grip position will slightly alter for each type of shot and many players have their preferred style.
The type of grip position your child eventually settles on will greatly influence their style of play so this is another situation to ensure your child is being shown the full range of positions so they can settle on one that feels right for them.
The Continental Grip
The continental grip is commonly used for serves, volleys, overheads and slice shots making it very versatile and crucial to master.
There are 3 main types of forehand grips used in modern tennis and each one will impact at what height you contact the ball and how much topspin or power you generate.
The ideal/natural contact point for this grip is around waist height. This grip will help you hit the ball flatter and harder but with less topspin.
The ideal/natural contact point for this grip is between waist and shoulder height. This grip is an all-rounder that allows you to hit with speed and topspin.
The ideal/natural contact point for this grip is around shoulder height. This grip provides lots of topspin but will impact how much power you generate.
Over the years there has been some debate amongst tennis coaches over whether single or double handed backhand is better. Traditionally all players had a single handed backhand but in modern tennis it is more common to see the professionals using double handed backhand. Although Roger Federer uses a single handed backhand and it is considered one of the most potent in the game.
Double Handed Backhand
The double handed backhand is easier to master that the single. It also gives you more stability in the shot but offers less reach.
This grip offer more speed and power yet lessens the amount of topspin generated in the shot.
Extreme or Semi-Western Backhand Grip
This grip is much less common as it is harder to master but offers a lot of topspin if you can control the shot.
Grip images courtesy of Busy Tennis Players.
How To Follow Through On Your Swing
Having a correct path of swing is crucial to the accuracy and power of your shots. Your follow through (where you racquet head ends up) is a clear indication of whether the path of swing is correct. Many beginners will make the mistake of hitting down on the ball which often makes the ball go into the net. Ideally you want your swing to go from low to high with your racquet finishing over your shoulder.
There are certain types of shots or situations where the path of swing will need to be adjusted but, when learning simple groundstrokes, be sure to have a strong follow through that goes from low to high. Then you can experiment with more advanced shots and techniques later as you progress.
Serving is such an important part of tennis. With a powerful and accurate serve you will be a very hard opponent to beat.
Here are the main tips your child should learn about serving:
- Use a continental grip when starting as this offers the most power and accuracy.
- Ensure your stance is correct. Back foot parallel to the baseline, front foot pointing towards the right net post (for right handers).
- Concentrate on the ball toss using a straight arm and release the ball around eye level.
- Coil the knees to generate power, drop the racquet then bring it up over your head and launch into the swing.
Each of these tips that your child should learn in their first lessons require a lot of practice and there are some subtleties that we can’t go into full detail here.
To ensure your child learns proper technique and fundamentals it’s crucial they find a good coach and I hope these tips will help you quickly identify if you have found one that is right for your child. Australian Sports Camps offers 3 day tennis camps across school holidays, book your camp today.