Most parents enroll their children in tennis lessons and programs hoping to keep them active and entertained during their out-of-school hours. While both classes and camps get kids moving and give them a break from their devices when school’s out, moms and dads will be pleased to learn that their young athletes are picking up special, transferable skills that will empower them for the rest of their lives.
Kirk Anderson, USTA’s former Director of Recreational Coaches and Programs, explains that transferable skills are skills that are learned on the tennis court and apply to other areas of kids’ lives. “These could be motor skills such as moving, stopping, changing directions or moving to and catching a ball,” he says. All of the skills mentioned above can be beneficial to a young athlete as they try other sports, engage in outdoor activities or even apply for jobs that require dexterity and focus.
Hand-eye coordination, balance, strength, and quick thinking are additional transferable skills kids pick up while on the court that are valued across a number of career options and industries including the construction, medical and performing arts industries. The physical skills that are gained from playing tennis and can be used over a person’s lifetime are the most obvious, but enrolling your child in tennis camps and classes can also lead to powerful personal development and the emergence of character traits that will empower them throughout their life.
“The character skills speak for themselves,” says Anderson. “Humility, perseverance, honesty and resilience are just a few of the traits that are admirable and can be used both on and off the tennis court.”
AnnElise Anderson says that developing positive character skills in each of the young athletes enrolled in RecTennis programs is a top priority. It is addressed at the beginning of each practice with the laying out of three simple rules: listen to the coach, always give your best effort and support your teammates. Coaches monitor the kids throughout practice and recognize and reward players who are demonstrating good character skills.
Additional highly valued skills that young athletes pick up on the court include problem-solving, concentration under pressure, self-motivation and a competitive spirit. These are all things that help propel children and adults as they make their way through their high school and college years as well as when they are developing their careers. As tennis athletes learn to apply what they learn from the game to their education and work life, they become empowered and confident in directing their own lives and pursuing their interests and dreams.
While enrolling your child in a tennis program may seem like it’s all fun and games, your money and your child’s commitment pays off for years to come. Encouraging your kids to love something that keeps them moving and fit is something that most parents strive for. But, giving them the opportunity to engage in an activity that helps them find success for the rest of their lives by teaching them skills that are highly valued in school and the job force is a gift that lasts a lifetime.