As our program has grown, we have had to find new ways of keeping the atmosphere lighthearted, but remaining in control of each exercise we do. Clayton, my trusty assistant, has done an amazing job transforming himself from a person who couldn’t remember what it was like to be 5 years old to one who is now engulfed in their language. We are both learning how to speak it as we add on each week of QuickStart.
We added a couple of new ideas to today’s practices. Our divide and conquer method worked in some areas and not as much in others today. Clayton and I had our separate groups and worked with each group according to their skill level. Each group got to name their “team” and stick with their team for the entire practice. Every exercise they did helped build the team score. It helped define them as a group, so they weren’t so concerned about what the other courts were doing.
I do believe, however, that the USTA online videos for 5 & 6 year exercises may be using more experienced kids for those examples. I watch the videos and love their ideas, and many times we take them to the court that day. Today, we tried “Call My Name”. In this activity, two children pair up. One child has his back facing his partner, and the partner will call his name and toss the ball into the air. Once his name is called, he will go and catch it. It works on reaction for one player and skill in tossing for the other. Ideally, this is a perfect exercise for that age. We had a different experience. We had two little boys partnering together. Boy #1 called out his partner’s name, and when his partner turned around, Boy #1 threw the ball directly at his head. This was a big chuckle for the group, but not really what we were going for. Luckily, the foam ball caused no harm, and the incident was entertaining. I suppose the good news is we know he has great aim.
We added a parent-child homework session the last 5 minutes of each class today. The homework gave the parents one task that they could do with their child in the driveway or in the backyard. Parent knowledge of the game is really important, and they all got a chance to be a part of the practice. I really liked this portion of the practice. Parents got into it, and took the ideas home with them. I am interested to see if those kids come back with more balance and control if they are practicing at home.