Free LTA tennis coaching with #TennisForKids

April 4, 2017

We had the pleasure of talking to Annabel Croft recently. She’s one of the coaches, along with Leon Smith OBE and Greg Ruzetski, involved in delivering the #TennisForKids programme for the LTA. Annabel started playing tennis at nine, late by today’s standards, but went on to become the Wimbledon Girls Champion and the Australian Open Girls Champion at 18. Watching players like her certainly inspired me to take up tennis, much as Murray does today’s generation. Our daughter POD first picked up a tennis racket when she was four while on a Mark Warner holiday. She enjoyed it so much, last year we signed her up for the LTA’s #TennisForKids initiative.

Specifically created for 5-8 year olds, Tennis For Kids is a six week programme run by LTA qualified coaches. Set up following the success of the GB Davis Cup Team, it’s a legacy programme designed to expand tennis at a grass roots level. POD was one of over 10,000 children that took part in 2016 with more than half these kids continuing to play. As Annabel Croft highlighted, tennis is a game you can choose to play competitively or socially but most importantly throughout your life.

Our experience of #TennisForKids 

The #TennisForKids course POD attended took place at a small club local to us. Each 45 minute lesson was at the same time each week after school. Rackets and balls were provided throughout so all we had to do was to turn up. POD had an experienced LTA coach who, as well as having an abundance of patience, always kept the kids entertained while coaching. It’s a great way to teach kids as they’ll always enjoy activities when they’re lots of fun. Tennis For Kids was in a relaxed environment but with structured lessons and new skills taught each week.

Agility, balance and co-ordination were just some of those learnt along with picking up key strokes. POD is a great thrower but her catching skills were slightly amiss at the start. Practice makes perfect though and they improved as the weeks progressed. She got to partner with other children and work within a team throughout the course. These were mixed up regularly so no-one spent all the time with the same person. The children had tennis rackets in their hands by week two which pleased POD greatly as she was itching to hit the ball! She found it a little strange holding a racket at first although that was down to her saying she was right handed when she’s a leftie!

POD has bags of energy so Tennis For Kids suited her well in that it was quite fast paced. The coach was conscious of keeping the children occupied and while he rarely rushed anyone, there was little waiting around. The #TennisForKids programme provided POD with a great introduction to a number of positions like the “warrior” (or ready) position which is essential in tennis. She also learnt how to react to different scenarios on court and where she needed to be to hit the ball back.

Learning forehand (or “fry hand” as POD called it) and backhand was also taught along with other strokes like volleying and serving. There was net time every week too so the children could put into practice what they’d learnt that session. It was amazing to see how the kids progressed over the duration of the 6 week course. POD was thrilled when she received her own racket. We couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to tennis, giving her the skills (and equipment!) she needed to continue. And it was all free. As well as #TennisForKids POD has had free coaching during the Great British Tennis Weekend. These special weekends take place during the summer months (this year mainly on the 13th/14th May and 22nd/23rd July). She has also attended open days run by the LTA and will be at a session locally this weekend – these are all free too. We’re hoping to secure a coaching course for her at another tennis club so we can join as a family and play more regularly. Although you can play tennis all over the place these days (check out the LTA website to find a court), we have relished the club environment in the past. You can just as easily play in a park though.

Tennis For Kids is back in 2017

We’re thrilled #TennisForKids is back for a second year running having been so successful last year. It’s even bigger than it was in 2016 too. Nearly 1,000 LTA coaches are involved and a whopping 20,000 free places are available for kids (aged 5-8) who are keen to take up tennis. The course is jam packed with entertaining games and activities with the focus on fun and teamwork while learning those core skills, positions and strokes. Children that regularly attend the #TennisForKids programme will also receive a brand new, specially designed Davis Cup tennis tennis racket. You can sign up here. Parents can of course watch all the action and do get the opportunity to get on court during a session too. If you fancy joining an introductory course for adults, check out Tennis Xpress.

The blogger challenge! 

With #TennisForKids such an awesome initiative, we thought we’d challenge a fellow blogger to give this brilliant LTA experience a try. We’re nominating the lovely Lou Hegarty from parent and lifestyle blog Birds and Lillies. She lives in Nottingham and her daughter is the same age POD was when she did #TennisForKids last year. Hopefully that means we’ll be able to impart our knowledge and pass on a few tips too. We’re so looking forward to hearing how they get on and do follow them if you’re not already. You can catch them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Disclaimer: I’m working with the Lawn Tennis Association and BritMums in a paid relationship, showcasing the FREE tennis sessions for children you can take up at your local club. Book your sessions here now!

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  • JuggleMum, Nadine Hill April 4, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    It’s wonderful to read your post and see how POD has progressed through her tennis sessions and how much she obviously enjoys it. This really is a terrific initiative and best of all – it’s free!! Can’t get better than that!

    • Charly Dove April 4, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      Oh Nadine she had such a great time on Tennis For Kids, it really is a superb initiative. I love that it’s free so it encourages those that have never tried it before to give it a go!

  • Sam | North East Family Fun Travel Blog April 4, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Oh the sessions look like loads of fun – I love that they do things to improve hand/eye co-ordination ect…… and use games that don’t necessarily involve a bat and ball.

    • Charly Dove April 4, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      It’s really great Sam, I highly recommend it. The kids get to do all kinds of fun activities which arm them with the skills they need to play. It’s a brilliant initiative and I love that it’s with qualified LTA professionals – as well as being free of course!

  • Karen Beddow April 4, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    It’s really fab to see how she has progressed through her tennis lessons and lovely to see all your photos. Such a fab initiative.

    • Charly Dove April 5, 2017 at 11:16 am

      Thank you Karen, she had such a great time and Tennis For Kids was a brilliant introduction to tennis. It really is a superb initiative and I love that it’s free.

  • Lisa (Mumdadplus4) April 4, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Reading peoples experiences from last year is fab. Your daughter looks like she had a fab time. My son has only ever played in the garden and can’t wait to try tennis out for real on a court with proper equipment.

    • Charly Dove April 5, 2017 at 11:19 am

      It’s really lovely reading how others got on with Tennis For Kids last year, POD had a brilliant time. It’s the best experience for kids interested in learning to play tennis, even more so if there’s a plan for them to continue. Gardens are good, I used to hit a ball against a wall when I was a child. It’s what got me started, that and playing tennis in the street with a neighbour!

  • Nell (Pigeon Pair and Me) April 5, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    I love this post – you’ve captured their progress so well! It’s nice to be passing hte #TennisForKids baton on to some others, isn’t it.

    • Charly Dove April 6, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      Oh thank you so much Nell, what a lovely thing to say. It’s so nice to be passing the baton on, #TennisForKids is such a great initiative.

  • Emma Plus Three April 6, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    Fab photos, it’s great to see her enjoying tennis. We are really looking forward to our sessions x

    • Charly Dove April 6, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      They are great Emma, she loved #TennisForKids last year. Such a superb introduction to the game, not just the strokes but the positions and skills needed too. She had a lot of fun that’s for sure!

  • Louise @ Birds and Lilies April 13, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    I’m so excited for #TennisForKids! I still can’t believe it’s all free – I think it’s brilliant to get kids into tennis. Ava is really excited too, but she’s a bit worried about being hit by the ball at the moment! I love that this will get her used to the game though, and hopefully overcome that fear. I can’t wait to see her develop over the six weeks, and learn the basic skills, as well as potentially make some new friends. She’s had a tough time at school recently so this has come at the perfect time to hopefully increase her confidence a bit.

    I love all of your pictures, and POD looks like she really got into it – I love her stance to hit the ball 🙂 I think I need to get Ava some trainers – she only has plimsolls really and they’re more for indoors I think aren’t they? Did you join in much as a parent? I have always been terrible at tennis and I wish I’d got involved with it at a younger age like Ava will be. I think I’ll probably learn quite a bit myself! xx #ad

    • Charly Dove April 14, 2017 at 9:36 am

      I love that #TennisForKids is all free Lou, it’s such a great initiative and brilliant that they get a racket too. POD absolutely loved it last year and having her own racket definitely encourages her to play more. Ava honestly has nothing to worry about, they start off with ball skills and positions without a racket initially. I know POD would have wanted to get it straightaway but she would have gone bananas so that’s probably why it’s structured! Ava will love it, there’s such a strong focus on all the kids having fun and working together too. POD made some friends during her course and I’m sure Ava will too. I’d definitely get Ava some trainers so she’s comfortable, the weather doesn’t always play ball. POD just wore leggings and a top with a fleece if it was chillier. You then just need to rock up with a bottle of water for when she gets thirsty. The LTA does involve parents at certain points and there’s an adult intro course too I saw recently (Tennis Xpress). Do shout if you have any questions about #TennisForKids more than happy to help x #Ad

  • John Adams April 21, 2017 at 6:27 am

    I’m loving the idea of the Fry Hand. Helen didi the tennis sessions last year and she continues to play to this day. it’s such a great sport and we also got to meet Annabel Croft!

  • Tired Mummy of Two April 23, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    It looks like you had an amazing time last year, we can’t wait for the good weather to get outside with our tennis rackets again as we loved the tennis sessions too