In April, we started our QuickStart program with 2 kids in our 6 & under class and 4 kids in our 8 & under class. Today, a mere three weeks later, we had 8 kids in our 6 & under class and 12 kids in our 8 & under class. We have gone from 6 to 20 in a matter of weeks. We are getting kids to take tennis lessons right out of the gates. This is great! As happy as I am to see the influx of kids, I was not quite prepared for it. To my knowledge, only half of these kids were signed up, but they brought their friends with them! Needless to say, there were lots of kids and lots of chaos.
My 5 & 6 year old class is great. The kids are very easily excited about anything you do with them. However, they move in flocks! Imagine the kids’ soccer field and all the kids running after the ball at the same time. You tell one of them to come over to a spot and they all come. My goodness! Next on the priority list for next week is divide and conquer! We are most definitely going to sub-divide the groups. I am thinking about giving them a color. For that week they are a certain team or color. They do everything with their team including doing exercises that are specifically designed for their team.
It is challenging to work with different levels on the same tennis court. This is inevitably always a challenge for any teaching pro. However, with 5 & 6 year olds, it sometimes is even harder. They get bored easier and sometimes tasks that may seem like they should be able to do, they simply don’t have the coordination yet. The biggest challenge is knowing that the whole time they are out there, they just want to hit the ball with the racket. That’s all they want to do from the moment they come to “tennis practice”. That is all their parents want to see them do. And quite frankly, I want them to do that as well! I am often tempted to just let them play with the rackets. However, the kids will always have more fun and accomplish more if you do tasks that they can succeed at. Hitting a ball over a net with a racket is not one of those tasks for most 5 & 6 year old kids. Patience is key. Play games that work on coordination and end every practice with the racket in their hand.
I love my 7 & 8 year old group. The kids are enthusiastic and fun to work with. My new initiative in this class was to make sure they learned proper technique in some form. All kids in the program swing low to high and finish their stroke. We eliminated the “bunting” of the ball today. Although, I am confident I will see the bunt again. Each kid got a partner, one tossed and the other hit. It worked very well until… we ran out of balls. That happened way too quickly. It was on to the next activity. I had learned a game called battle cones in the QuickStart Training Workshop. I was so excited to be able to play this game. It looks like so much fun, and I was sure my group had the skills to be able to play. It turns out I was very wrong. The kids could not play the game, which became more of a disappointment than anything else. Lesson of the day: play games the kids can succeed at and they will come back for more.