Hi - my 6yo dd came home with a letter recently inviting her to do a free trial with the local lawn tennis club. They had been to the school to do some activities with the children, focussing on balancing, coordination, ball skills etc. and she was picked out as showing a natural aptitude. She had never played before.
Thing is, the taster is for one session only, and I can imagine that if it goes well, we will have to decide whether to keep her going. I don't really know what that entails long term, and am hoping for some advice from people with more experience. How much expense and commitment is involved? Does it take over your life with weekend workshops, holiday clubs etc. I'm thinking if she is actually good at it then we would have to commit...
At the moment she already does swimming, a language class, and another thing for fun in the week, so...not sure! Thanks
Initially it is probably only a hour or two a week in a group lesson but yes if she really becomes good and competes it is a big commitment, costly and something else would have to give. Our local club does holiday clubs which are good value.
IME tennis is a good activity for them to learn young. Learning the principles of tennis - rules etc and also ball skills, hand-eye coordination, fitness and an activity that will keep appearing every summer for them to get involved in if they wish.
Courses are often either intensive in the summer hols or 6-week blocks, so you can pick and choose what would fit in. I don't think it's like swimming which takes up more and more time in training as you progress, unless of course you want it to.
It can get a bit insane surprisingly young as they do seem to select promising players ridiculously early.
But you don't have to get sucked in. We nearly did (it's heady, being told your DC is good at something) but stuck at one group class weekly plus the odd tournament until green ball level (age 9/10). I have seen friends from the class do far more (more classes, individual coaching and moer tournaments) and I think that is demanding. But those children do like it and want to do it. At 6, I'd say try it out in group lessons for a couple of terms and see how it goes. It's a lovely sport and if you don't go down the competitive route, you're still setting up a competence for a sociable activity.
Thank you for your replies - I think I will let her go on the taster session as she said she had fun, and wants to give it a go. They are also doing some intensive courses over the Easter Hols where you can book per week or per day, which I might enrol both dcs for.
Lots to think about though. It is heady to be told she's good at something, but the potential costs are scary (and the prices plus length of sessions, seem to more than triple from the age of 8yrs upwards!?) Goodness knows what we'll do if the younger one shows promise and wants to take it up too! Thanks anyway, for the advice. I suppose it's down to how seriously we want her/them to play - not too scary if it's just for fun.
Having played at a low level competitively:
Firstly: It is expensive even at a young age. Lessons, even group lessons can be pricy, it does matter about having a raquet that suits you-and expensive ones are as a very general rule better, to play competively you do need a certain amount of kit (whites, spare raquet), tennis club fees/tournament entry fees aren't cheap, and prizes are definitely not going to cover more than the entry fee...
Secondly: Don't get too excited about the showing promise (sorry!). It would be interesting to know what proportion of the class got the letter (skeptic here!) but also ime those who show promise at a young age are not necessarily the ones who really make it. I know children who at the age of 9/10/11yo were expected to be playing professionally by 18yo, had sponsorship, all the lessons etc. thrown at them, and at 16yo they were losing in the second round at little local tournaments. And some who at 16yo were not achieving spectactularly went on to do fairly well-Tim Henman was not the best in his county side at junior level for example.
Thirdly: It is fun to do. Not particularly socially though-tennis parents can be totally nutty and very happy to interfere if they think you're going to beat their little darling. But it also takes a lot of time to even play low level competitively. Through my teen years I played (out of choice) 5-6 days a week, tournaments can be a week of running backwards and forwards, hanging around for your next match, or possibly travelling 50 miles to be beaten 6-0 6-0 and going home.
The best thing you can do if you want your dd to play at this age is invest in a bucket of balls and take her regularly down to the courts and throw balls at her gently for her to swipe back. Cheaper (assuming the courts aren't too bad for price), fun (less hanging around and you can make little game up for her) and actually much better than a group session really.
Thanks for taking the time to reply DeWe, that is useful to know. So, it's expensive and very time consuming even at a minor level! Dd said there were four children altogether who got the invitation - but I don't know if it was out of her class, or the whole year group (30 per class, 2 classes per year). See what you mean about early promise not necessarily carrying through when they're older though...
The bucket of balls, and gentle practice sounds good. A yearly membership, and court hire is comparatively cheap so unless they say she's amazing, maybe that's the way to go - stick to one lesson a week, and the rest of the time just practice on own.
Yikes no please Dewe's experience is not mine with DS age9 and it doesn't have to be expensive. DS went to one of those taster sessions age4 (his insistence I told him they wouldn't take him as he wasn't 5) and came out saying 'I want to come every holiday'.
DS just went to the holiday sessions for a year. They are fab, very social and the focus is definitely fun. Then he went to doing one session a week. The session was �5 for an hour in a group max of 6 with a coach and another helper. (This was cheaper than a half hour swimming class at the local council pool.) No white kit required, most of the boys at that age play in football kit. Membership of the tennis club for a child �10 pa and there is no court hire on top - just turn up and see if there is one free.
Fast forward to now and DS does 2x1.5hr squads at �7.50 and has 1hr with a senior coach at �20. He is going just to one day this Easter holiday which is 10-3 costing �15. He is keen and plays outdoor tennis year round. A new tennis racquet is usually a birthday present (about �40 for Wilson/Babolat). We know he's no superstar but it has given him a great set of friends and he is very fit.
Dewe is right about some tennis parents but you can give them a wide berth. There are normal ones out there too. IME it all comes down to how you as a family feel about the club. Some are more family friendly than others. Oh and I like that girls and boys play together unlike so many sports.
At 6 your daughter will be able to play as much or as little as you decide. The area I live in (outer london) a lesson for a 6 year old is £7 per session and you sign up for a school term. It is unusual for a child of 6 to play more than once a week unless they are from a family that all play tennis.
There are competitions and tournaments available from a young age but you decide if your dd wants to do them - they don't have to.
With regards to equipment most places will provide it so you shouldn't have to buy an expensive racquet
Well eldest dd had the taster session today, in fact so did youngest as the coach said she was welcome to join too.
Eldest does seem to have a knack - she excelled in a few of the games and does seem to pick it up quite naturally. Youngest, not so much! At the end the coach handed out some forms for a course that is starting soon - quite reasonable in price actually - �3 a session it works out as. I noticed that not all the children in the taster session got one of these either (youngest didn't - only about a third came away with them).
Eldest says she wants to go, and would even consider giving up what I thought would be her favourite after school activity, for tennis lessons. So...looks like we will put her in.
Trouble is due to childcare I will have my youngest with me who will wonder why she can't join in the same lesson again. We don't have the money to just pay for courses willy nilly. How to put it to her kindly though...anyone else had this problem?
Not sure about the answer to your issue with the youngest, but I read this thread the other day and just wanted to say that I'm glad you've decided to sign DD1 up.
My DS started tennis about 3 weeks ago, we took him anyway because I wanted him to start a sport now he's turned 5. After a few Easter holiday camp sessions he was invited to join the squad development programme. Afaik 3 children out of the 16-20 that attend his tennis class have been invited, so I don't think you should necessarily be sceptical, as suggested above.
Also it is one of the cheapest extra curricular activities going, particularly when compared to something like music lessons. DS's racket cost £10 and the sessions cost £3.50.
I think the most important thing is that your DD enjoys it!
Glad that your DD had a good time and hope she grows to love it as DS does.
I have to say all this 'only some' from school and 'only some' from taster session got invitations would make me look closely at the club and its philosophy. IMO tennis at age 6 should be about fun and fitness and open to all whether they have a natural aptitude or not. Is this club just trying to be some sort of hothouse?
iseenodust I'm not sure about hothousing, but they are actively trying to encourage more girls into tennis, as part of an initiative.
I didn't mention it before, but the taster was all girls, and the course that dd was given the form for, is for girls only, up to 10yr olds. Seems to be a wider age range than usual, as the Mini-reds is 4-8yrs I understand. The course fees also seems lower, though I could be wrong.
thepurplepenguin Both children are doing a few lessons this week as part of the Easter camp (just this week). When I was paying, one of the other coaches said to me that she is 'very good', and stands out, particularly in agility. Watching her, eldest dd certainly seems to be in her element, having a great time!
My youngest is enjoying it, but I think if she were on her own, she wouldn't be that bothered. Perhaps she wouldn't mind sitting with me at the side as much as I thought?
So yes I've signed eldest up for the girls only course and hoping youngest won't be too upset. I just don't want her confidence knocked - 5yrs old is too young to start thinking she's not good at something, just because her big sister seems to find it easier.
6 is a normal age, in competitive tennis, to be scouted. "8 is too late" is a common mantra. The good players are playing by that age, and probably competing.
LTA is however stricter at keeping U11s in mini-tennis these days.
It's great your DD has a talent & I'd definitely take advantage of a cheap fees offer! I'm not against scouting early. I do think though it can run alongside a 'tennis for all' philosophy. DS has been playing for 5 years and it has brought him huge amounts of fun - that he would have missed out on if only those scouted were encouraged to join in the first place.
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