Tennis can be a kind of a hard game for a small child to learn. But it is awfully fun and worth spending a bit of time trying to teach your kids how to play, even if they don’t become the next tennis superstar at least you will always have a new partner to play with if you are looking for a game.
Tennis is perfect for kids because it is fast-paced, so they don’t get bored, and it also helps children develop speed and strength. Another benefit is that tennis is a perfect sport for cardiovascular health and hand-eye coordination.
When starting to teach kids tennis, you need to remember to keep it fun and straightforward. In recent years equipment and products (smaller rackets, tennis balls that don’t bounce as high as regular tennis balls) have been developed that are specifically made for little kids that help make the game much more enjoyable to play. There are even kits that you can buy that let you easily modify the size of a tennis court, so children don’t get tired and frustrated from running around a huge court.
When to Start
You may be wondering when you should start trying to teach your child how to play tennis. A lot depends on the child, if they have shown an interest, you can get rackets and balls that are tailored for kids four and under. If you are looking for lessons, it is possible to find people willing to give lessons to children as young as four or five years. If you are going to start this young, make sure you get a good child-sized racket and some of the high-density balls that will help avoid frustration.
Luckily for parents, there are some really amazing products for kids less than 10 years old to help them learn to play tennis that is tailored for their size and age. It may be tempting to pull out an old adult-sized racket from your garage for your kids to practice with, but keep in mind that a larger racket may be a bit too big for a small child to handle without getting frustrated. A smaller model will help kids feel more comfortable.
Another cool innovation in the tennis world is the foam, or the low-compression felt tennis balls. What is cool about these balls is that some of them are 15% bigger than regular tennis balls, making it easier for kids to hit. They also rebound slower (some 75% slower) when they hit the racket, and they don’t bounce as high, so they are perfect for beginners and children. There is a huge range of balls for kids depending on their age and ability, so you might have to hunt around to find one that is right.
When you feel like your child is ready to use a net, you should also consider playing within a smaller area than a typical tennis court. If you are playing with an older child, you can use half a court. If you are playing with a really small child, you can get a portable mini tennis net which allows you to set up and play within a small area so your kids won’t tire themselves out chasing the ball around a full-court and they will be able to focus on building up their skills.
Since it is very difficult to teach a child something they aren’t that interested in it is best to introduce the game of tennis slowly and show them how fun it can be by doing some simple activities that will get them familiar with the racket, the ball, movement, and balance.
Before you even hit the court, find a yard or a park and just play around with the ball and the racket. A couple of simple things to do:
Throw the ball to your child and have them try to hit it back to you
Have your kids try bouncing a ball on the ground and then catching it
See if they can walk along a line with the ball on their tennis rackets
You can try hitting the ball back and forth with your kids with no net, you don’t need to worry if the ball bounces more than one time before they hit it.
Have your kids hit a ball against a wall.
You can show them that in tennis you move around the court so you can have them practice moving in different directions holding the racket (side to side, backward and forwards, etc.)
Keep your session or practice short, no more than half an hour for kids ages 4 to 7. If they don’t seem to be having fun, stop, and try again another day. The goal is to get them to want to do it again.
Etiquette and Sportsmanship
When you are ready to move onto a court, you will want to go over some of the basic etiquette to follow, especially if there are other players on the court. Depending on their age and where you are playing, you don’t need to go into too much detail and overwhelm your kids. Talk to them about some of the basic concepts, and as they progress, you can add more to the mix. This is what they need to know:
If you are playing on a court where other people are waiting the general rule is that you should give up the court if you have been there an hour.
Let them know that it isn’t generally a good idea to be yelling or making loud noises on the court.
You can teach them good sportsmanship by saying “Good match” at the end of the game regardless of who wins.
If another player’s ball comes into your court, you can stop playing and get the ball.
Simple Rules and Concepts
At this point, you can start explaining some of the rules and the object of the game.
The object of the game to get the ball over the net before it bounces.
To start the game, you hit the ball to the person you are playing against.
The first shot of each game is called a serve.
The person you are playing with will hit the ball to you and you have to hit the ball before it bounces twice.
Hitting the ball back and forth is called a rally.
You will score a point when the person you are playing against misses the ball.
The person you are playing against scores a point when you hit the ball into the net.
It takes four points to win a tennis game. Although don’t keep score at first, when they start to get the hang of it you can use a simple scoring system
The Fundamental Skills
Once kids are starting to get more comfortable with the equipment, they will be ready to learn a few basic tennis techniques. This is the time to teach them the difference between different types of shots, how to serve the ball, and begin to get a little bit more in-depth about the rules of the game. In order not to confuse your kids, here are a couple of simple things you can start with:
How to Hold the Racket
Before kids get to set in their ways, you are going to want to try to have them get their grip right. This video isn’t the best quality, but it has some good tips on how to get your child to learn the proper tennis grip:
If your kids are able to hit the ball, you can begin to add a bit of technique to what they are able to do. To take a forehand shot, your kids should face sideways, hold the racquet in their dominant hand then swing it forward at waist level to make contact with the ball. Here is a helpful video that will show you how to do this.
A tennis rally happens when players are able to hit the ball back and forth, usually after the ball bounces. Getting a good rally going is one of the most fun parts of the game. We have found this great video by Quickstart Tennis on how to build up to a good rally with kids:
How to Serve
It might seem a little ambitious to try to teach a small child how to serve the ball, but since it is such a huge part of the game, it is never too early to introduce it as an important skill for kids. This is a great short video with good tips on how to get small kids used to the idea of serving the ball.
If you have any tips for teaching kids tennis, then please let us know in the comments below.
So you love golf, and you want to teach your kids, but aren’t quite sure where to start? Don’t worry, we have everything you need to know right here.
Luckily there is a plethora of great information that you can get online that will help kids learn some of the necessary skills that are important in golf. We have gone through most of it and have picked out all the information you need to know to get started. We have found the best golf-related children’s books, DVDs, and some free online videos that you will be able to use to get your kids golfing in no time. Before you know it, they will love golf just as much as you do!
Why Teach Your Kids Golf?
Short answer: because it is awesome. Long answer: golf is an excellent game for people of all sizes and abilities, you can play it your whole life, you have a great excuse to be outside in nature, you get exercise, and it is a lot of fun.
Golf can be kind of an intimidating sport to teach a child. Parents might worry that they are going to introduce an incorrect technique and mess up their child’s golf game for life. People love to freak parents out by telling them this, but if you are just trying to get your kids interested in golf, you don’t need to worry. The most important thing when parents are introducing a new sport to kids is that they make it fun, so kids want to do it and learn more.
When Should Kids Start?
There is golf equipment available for kids who can barely walk, but the prevailing wisdom is that you should only start teaching them golf when they show an interest in learning it. So it depends on the child, they could be two years old or ten years old, if they want to learn then that is the time to start teaching them.
If your child isn’t showing any interest in golf and it is breaking your heart, you can try to spark an interest by letting young kids ride along in a golf cart with you while you play. You could also show your kids how much fun it is to whack a ball around in the backyard or a basement, let them play golf-related video games or apps, or just read them some golf-related books (see below for a list of recommended books).
Before You Start
Depending on their age and what they already know, you will want to give your kids a general idea of the game. Some of the things that you can go over that might seem obvious to you, but are probably confusing to a child are:
How is golf played? Explain that golf is played on a golf course that is divided into nine or eighteen different areas called holes. A round begins on the teeing ground of the first hole.
How does the scoring work? Tell them that each time you hit the ball with your club, you count one stroke.
What is the point of the game? Explain that at the end of each hole is the green where there is a small hole and that the whole idea of the game is to get your ball into that hole on the green with as few strokes as possible.
Explain some of the terminology (e.g., fairway, rough, bunkers, types of golf holes(par 3,4, or 5).
What are there different clubs for? Go over why you use various clubs, which clubs are used when etc.
Before starting, it’s also essential you get the right equipment to make the game more enjoyable for your kids. There are lots of options for children’s golf clubs, depending on what fits your budget. Some good places to look for kid’s golf equipment are U.S. Kids Golf or TheLittlestGolfer.
For younger kids, you must get a small, light bag with a comfortable shoulder strap. You will want to make sure kids can carry their clubs, or it won’t be fun for anyone.
Since most golf courses have a dress code, you should also let your kids know that they will need to wear a shirt that has a collar, pants or shorts that aren’t too short, socks and shoes.
You don’t need to get too fancy when explaining golf etiquette to kids. They need to know that they have to respect other players by and respect the course by doing things like:
Not talking when other players are hitting the ball.
Not to take their practice swings near other people.
They should be ready when it is their turn to swing to avoid causing a delay for other players who are behind you.
They should leave the course in the same way that they found it.
They should try to avoid causing damage to the course.
Simple Rules Kids Should Know
Golf has many rules that might be a little overwhelming for a child, so when they are just beginning to learn the game, you will probably want to introduce the rules slowly. It’s not always necessary to keep score, but you can show kids how scoring in golf works so they can start to get the idea. Some basic rules they should know:
Play the ball as it lies – this is a crucial rule in golf.
The player farthest from the hole putts first when you are on the green. If there is a chance their ball might hit another player’s ball, show them how to mark the ball.
You can also show them how to pull the flagstick out before the ball goes into the hole to avoid a penalty.
Apart from a few exceptions, moving or interfering with the ball is something they shouldn’t do.
The Basic Skills
When you are ready to start, there are six essential skills that you will want to cover:
The Full Swing
Start with the easy stuff first, learning the proper grip is fundamental skills that kids need to master before they can develop a great golf swing. Most people recommend the ten-finger grip (also called the baseball grip) for kids.
Check out this video on how to teach kids the proper grip
If your alignment is off, then the shot will be off-target, so it’s essential to spend a bit of time trying to get this right. To get appropriately aligned, imagine a straight line going from the ball to your target. You then need to align your feet, so they are parallel with the target line. Lots of golf instructors use the analogy of a train track when trying to explain this. So basically, you tell the kids to imagine they are shooting the ball down a train track where the child is standing on the inner rail, and the ball is on the outer rail, which runs to the target. There is a good picture of it in Golf Digest.
Check out this video that has another approach to teach kids alignment:
Posture is another crucial thing to try to get right before your kids take a shot. Some things to keep in mind about posture are your child should stand straight with the club extended out in front of him or her at waist height. Then they can bend forward at the waist until the club hits the ground, and their knees are slightly flexed. They should try to keep their weight on the balls of their feet, and the spine should be at a good straight angle.
Putting is a fun aspect of golf for kids. If they seem to be struggling with it, you can make sure they are placing their feet about shoulder-width apart and pointing their toes straight out. Have them slightly bend their knees and make sure they are keeping their body straight. They should then take a good at the hole, then back at the ball and bring the putter straight back, hit the ball smoothly toward the hole.
The chip shot is used when the ball is close to the green but not on it. It is the type of shot you use when you are trying to get the ball over the taller grass in the rough onto the green. When doing a chip shot show kids, they should use a 7 or 9 iron.
The Full Swing
When kids are doing a full swing, make sure their feet are shoulder-width apart. Their back foot should be pointing straight out from their body. The front foot is turned slightly towards the hole. With their back straight, they can bend their knees a little. Have them bring the club back, and as they do that, they should transfer their weight to their back foot. Then they can sweep the club through the ball. As you do this, their weight will move with the club and end up on their front foot.
This is a good series with some helpful hints on how to do the swing for a five-year-old, 7-year-old and a 12-year-old
An easy way to help kids learn golf basics is through an instructional DVD. Surprisingly, there aren’t that many golf DVDs for kids, and the available ones have slightly mixed reviews.
The Better Golf Academy: Better Golf for Kids Vol. 1 introduces the basics of golf with a unique teaching method specially developed for children. The DVD goes over what kids need to know, including safety and getting started, the swing, pitching, sand play, chipping, putting, playing by the rules. You can view a preview of it here.
gotGolf? Teaching Kids Golf: Short Game is a DVD that is for parents, coaches, and teachers. Some of the topics that are covered are grip techniques, the put, chipping, pitching, the Bump and Run, Sand Shots, Flop Shots.
gotGolf? Teaching Kids Golf: Swing Fundamentals covers (you guessed it) swing fundamentals. If you are having trouble teaching your kids how to swing the club, then this is a good option. Although it isn’t a great DVD if you are looking for a general golf DVD, you would be better off getting The Better Golf Academy DVD.
Books are a useful tool in helping children learn about golf and to help develop a love of the game. We have included storybooks and instructional books, as well as a couple of books for parents who are looking for some useful info on how to teach their kid’s golf. Books for Younger Kids
P is for Putt: A Golf Alphabet (Sports Alphabet). By the prolific children’s sports writer Brad Herzog, this ABC book goes over some golf history and some of the big names. These ABC series are very popular.
Consider It Golf: Golf Etiquette and Safety Tips for Children! is part of a series of golf-themed books (Count on Golf, The ABC’s of Golf, Swing Into Opposites with Golf, Junior Golf Journal) by Susan Greene. This book uses rhymes and illustrations to teach golf etiquette and course safety to kids. From repairing your divot to being a good sport, the beginner golfer is introduced to proper conduct on the golf course. This book puts many of the golf rules and safety concerns into easy to understand kid language. It’s a great place to start when introducing your child to golf.
Books for Kids Ages 8+
The Kids Book of Golf (ages 8-12) is a bit old school, but it would be a good book for a slightly older child who is interested in learning about golf who doesn’t know much already. It has a little bit about the history, parts of a golf course, info on clubs, a bit about some of the basics that kids should know(grip, putting, chipping, full swing), rules, warming up, some drills, games within the game, tips from the pros, info about some of the major tournament, etc. It is a very easy to read a book for kids that gives a decent overview for kids who are interested in learning about the game.
Golf: From Tee to Green-The Essential Guide for Young GolfersThis book has easy-to-follow instructions that can help with the all-round play of any young golfer, covers tee shots, iron play, pitching, chipping, coping with bunkers and the green. It also has sections on the history of the game, the all-time great players, famous holes and memorable tournaments.
Francis and Eddie: The True Story of America’s Underdogs is a storybook based on a bit of exciting golf history that involved a child. A century ago, in 1913, the world’s finest golfers gathered at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, to compete in golf’s national championship, the U.S. Open. Joining them was a little-known amateur, 20-year-old Francis Ouimet, who lived across the street from the course and taught himself to play by sneaking onto the fairways with the only golf club he owned. His caddie was a ten-year-old Eddie Lowery.
Daddy Caddy On the Bag: Coach Your Child to Peak Golf Performance is kind of a cool book that is written especially for parents who are teaching their kids to play golf. This book is for parents who are relatively serious and are looking to coach their child rather than just teach them the game for the fun of it. It covers things like effective golf skills development, caddying for your kid, emotions, and mental challenges that kids face, and how to be a good coach.
Teaching Kids Golf: A Baffled Parent’s Guideis sort of the opposite of the Daddy Caddy book mentioned above. It is much more laid back. This is a good book if you are looking for something just to introduce golf you to kids, not create the next golf superstar. It’s a gentle intro to teaching kids golf, it shows parents how to teach their kids the various things they need to know, but it stresses that golf first and foremost should be fun for kids, especially younger kids. The book covers everything from the basics of proper grip and swing techniques to putting, pitching, driving, and managing time on the course.
If you have a ball and some general knowledge about soccer, you are all set to teach your little one how to get started building up some exceptional skills. Grab a ball, get your kid, find a backyard or a park, and have some fun! We have found some great tips, some soccer DVDs and books that are an excellent resource for teaching kids everything they need to know.
The four skills you want to introduce to the child are:
Dribbling is moving the ball with your feet. This will be a little trickier than teaching your kids to shoot the ball. You can start by showing them how to move the ball around using different parts of your feet. Don’t get too crazy; just keep it simple and let them have a try. Remember to give them lots of encouragement and keep it fun if you want to create a little bit of a challenge; you can set up cones or obstacles for the child to dribble around.
Ball Control is receiving the ball by stopping its movement. This is an essential skill because you need to be able to set up a quick shot or pass when playing the game. To practice ball control, you can throw or kick the ball to your child so that they can stop the ball with their feet, and then when the ball is under control, they can take a shot back to you or into the net.
Shooting is just kicking the ball. To practice, start with a stationary ball and then work up to a moving balling ball. The shots can be taken from any part of the foot, but the top part of the foot gives the shooter the most power. If you are teaching a very young child, don’t expect too much in the way of accuracy. Practice making shots at the goal from different distances and angles and remember to keep it fun!
Goaltending is another vital skill that you can practice at home. Make sure your child is standing out from the net a little bit, and you can practice taking shots at them from different angles. You can also teach them or have them practice their kicking and ball throwing skills, which are a fun thing that Goalies get to do.
Once the child has gotten the idea of the basic skills, you can introduce them to how the game is played and some more advanced skills. A couple of simple things you can go over:
The object of the game is to get the ball into the net and score points.
The reason they need to learn the necessary skills of dribbling, ball control, and shooting is so that they can move the ball from one end of the field to the other.
Explain the concept of defense and why the goaltender is essential.
Soccer DVD’s for Beginners
If you are looking for DVDs to help show you kids some of the basics of soccer, you could try Soccer for Kids-Getting Started. It has Squishy, the animated talking soccer ball, leading an exciting journey, featuring fun sing-alongs and simple diagrams to help introduce kids to the fundamentals of dribbling, passing, shooting, and more. Or you could try The Littlest Leaguers: Learn to Play Soccer, which is another accessible introduction to the fundamentals of soccer.
My Soccer Book (for ages 4-8) is a simple book that explains the fundamentals of soccer in basic steps and straightforward explanations for preschoolers.
The Everything Kids’ Soccer Book (for ages 9 +) gives kids tips and strategies for passing, heading, and defending. Kids also learn how to stretch before a big game, proper throw-in technique, rules of the game, dribbling drills, effective on-field communication, and the importance of teamwork.
Little Soccer is a straightforward board book for younger children. It has ‘riddles’ about soccer that the kids can answer. It is part of a Little Sports series that also has books for basketball, baseball, football, and hockey. My five year old loves this series. It’s a simple way to teach kids about some of the aspects of the game.
If you are a parent who would like to teach your child how to swim, there are some pretty good tips and videos online that can give you great advice on how to help kids learn how to swim. We have rounded up some of the best websites, DVDs, and online videos to show you what to focus on.
Before you start, though, remember that water safety is the most essential thing, so kids under seven should always be within arm’s reach of an adult and NEVER leave a small child unattended near pools, lakes, rivers, streams.
If you are up for the challenge, here are some online swimming lessons to check out:
U Swim is an excellent free site that describes itself as the community service, which shows you how to teach children of all ages to swim. They break videos down by age and skill level, and this is a great place to start if you want to learn how to teach some necessary swimming skills. They also offer an iPhone app.
World Wide Swim School is another option for parents who are looking for online lessons. This site was created by Laurie Lawrence, who is Australia’s water safety advocate, infant aquatics pioneer, learn to swim expert and gold medal Olympic swim coach (Gold!). You download the lessons in this program, and they cost around $100 each, this is a bit pricey, but there are some free samples so you can try the program before buying it.
If those aren’t quite your cup of tea, have a look at these online video series:
Robert Bina’s “Learn how to swim” series is pretty great if you can get past the funky music and the old school graphics. The videos in this five-part series are very informative and very strong on teaching safety tips. This is a good series for ages 5 -9.
Phillip Toriello’s video series are short lessons on things like floating, treading water, big arms, and diving. They are very watchable and give lots of useful tips.
If you want a DVD check out:
The Swimming Lesson This series was made to teach children the basics of swimming and water safety in the pool. This is a guide for a fun interactive under five-year-olds swimming lesson. You can download this program to your computer for $9.95, or there is an iPhone version that is also $9.95 that might come in handy if you are traveling and maybe trying to teach your kids to swim at a hotel pool.
Waterproof Kids DVD is another DVD that has step by step lessons to help parents teach kids how to swim with a strong emphasis on safety. The reviews are generally very strong for this DVD, with people finding it well organized, easy to follow, and it has useful age-appropriate techniques.