To Bump or Not to Bump
by Director Instructor Kelly Parker
I am a true believer that the 8 & under court is such a good place for beginners to start. The instant success is so refreshing for the younger kids and it gives them confidence to stay in the sport. I also believe that the red ball and the small court are great utilities for teaching strokes.
With that being said, some of my best kids that have great strokes, still get into point situations and begin to bump the ball. They forget the fundamentals and go straight into survival mode of trying to win the point. The most common remark from parents and non-believers is, “She hits through the ball on the bigger court.”
The question is, why continue to keep them on a 36 foot court when it seems to be hindering their stroke development instead of helping it? Here’s my best answer: You often will find that kids get into point scenarios and begin to play “not to lose”. They stop hitting out on their shots and their pretty strokes become more like beginner patty cake. However, even though these kids are not stroking it the way you may like, you will see 10 – 15 ball rallies with kids moving their opponents all over the court. They learn the most difficult thing to teach, how to “play” the game. So often I am teaching some of my older students similar lessons that I am teaching my 8 and under kids, how to construct points and learn how to win. It takes so much time to learn how to hit the ball properly that some older kids never learn how to set up points, anticipate and really play the game.
You may be thinking these younger kids are being put at a disadvantage, but the lessons they learn by successfully having structured points will contribute to their success throughout their whole life. It is a lesson that you can be taught alongside strokes at a very young age. Junior Team Tennis has been one of the best assets to growing the confidence and games of our 8 & under players.