Remember back when parents were worried about their kids spending too much time in front of the T.V.? Mother’s clutched their pearls as their children inched closer to the giant box sitting in the middle of the family room with its moving images that lured curious young eyes and ears. Now, the television is the least of a parent’s concerns.
Kids have iPads and phones and computers and video game systems—and getting them out of the house often seems impossible. With all of the digital distraction at their fingertips, how do you get them out to play tennis? Well, first you start by introducing them to the game.
It’s time to take the digital devices away from your tots and instead place a racket in their young hands. The following are three ways to introduce the game of tennis to your kids. Follow these suggestions and your whole family will be playing in no time at all.
1. Be a good mentor
While many things have changed over the years, some things have stayed the same. Kids still want to be just like their parents. If they see you doing something, they are more likely to be interested in doing it too.
When the weather is nice out, pack up your youngsters and take them to the tennis courts at the park. Bring an extra racket and ball for them and play your own game. Let them see how much fun you are having. Don’t take the game too seriously or they might not see it as fun. Invite them to play with the adults. Chances are, they’ll want to participate at some point. Bring the game down to their level for as long as it holds their interest.
Pro Tip: let your child come and go from the game as much as they like. If they don’t feel forced to do something, they are more likely to come back to it. If you are at a park, let them go swing for a bit when they get bored with the game. If you are at an indoor court, bring books or toys for them to play with when they need a break.
2. Bring the game home
Keep the kids unplugged at home, by creating a kid-friendly court in your backyard. You can purchase a mini-net for your outside space, but young kids don’t really need one. Simply draw a line across the yard for them to hit a ball across.
If you are worried about your equipment getting damaged, invest in kid-sized rackets. There are plenty of reasonably priced options, and a bag of tennis balls is relatively inexpensive and will help keep your kids busy all afternoon.
3. Find a good program
Enrolling your child in a kid’s tennis program is a great way to get them invested in the game. Along with learning the basics and gaining the physical skills required to play, they get the opportunity to make new friends. Children are far more likely to stick to a hobby that their social circle is built around.
If you aren’t sure where to start, check out the RecTennis programs in your area. They offer afterschool programs and options for friends and family during the summer as well. You can expect your child to develop athletic skills, learn good sportsmanship, make new friends, and stay active when enrolled in the right class. Even better, when you enroll with your child, you get some extra special bonding time.
Your kids won’t be little for long. There will be plenty of opportunity for screen-time down the road when their schoolwork or jobs demand it of them. Tennis offers families a great opportunity to spend time together, stay active and create great memories, and also teaches kids important life skills.