At Top4Tennis we specialise in school tennis sessions. That means going into schools and offering high-quality tennis coaching to kids in the mornings or afternoons.
At the moment we run Top4Tennis school sessions at Hinchley Wood Primary School, Auriol Junior School, Mead Infant School, Christ Church Junior School, Christ Church Infant School and Hollymount Primary School. And we're always looking to expand.
There are plenty of tennis coaches out there and different ways of going about a school coaching lesson. The difference between us and any other tennis company is the quality: We pay attention to really improving every child that attends the club. Our motto is that if children improve their tennis, they have more fun. That’s why we prioritise skills and technique, not just match play.
This is how a typical term of tennis sessions will play out...
Mastering the basics
During the first few weeks, we usually concentrate on basic technique, forehands and backhands and taking the racket back low with a straight arm. Little things, like making sure the child swings and finishes with the racket over the shoulder, make all the difference in the long run.
These introductory sessions are when we try and iron out basic technique and flaws that would otherwise stick with a tennis player for life. These include important foundational skills like swinging with a straight arm and getting in the ready position before and after each shot.
Learning to volley and smash
Two of the most attacking shots in tennis are the volley and the smash. In our school sessions we look closely at these. The main technique is all about creating a ‘V’ between our shoulder, the elbow and the racket for the volley on both forehand and backhand side.
We should be able to see the back of the racket. If we can’t then it becomes a swing and we have no control over the ball and are likely to miss the ball. As we make contact with the ball we step forwards with the opposite foot and punch, keeping the wrist stiff. The foot you step forward on depends on the shot: left foot for the forehand volley and right foot for the backhand volley (if you are right-handed).
Sometimes use the terminology high five the ball with the racket to help the child understand what they must do on the volley, but we must be careful they don’t sacrifice their technique where the shrink their elbow to create and L shape as if they are waving hello. Again we start the child in the ready position before and after each volley.
On the smash it’s more simple. We start with the racket behind the head and the left hand above the head pointing to the ball, looking up the arm and looking at the ladybird on the side of your finger. To make contact with the ball we reach up to it the ball without letting it ball drop. On contact we then snap the wrist.
After the technique side is completed, we play fun games at the end of each session. The idea here, with these different drills, is to give each child an opportunity to introduce the skills that have been learned.
Once the children start to improve their technique we are ready to think more deeply about the dynamics of the ball. Most children naturally run to the bounce of the ball. So we start off with a simple game. Without the racket, the child must let the ball bounce and then drop below the waste before they catch it. This helps kids move behind the ball while letting the ball fall low enough to create a good shot.
The number one rule is to not let the ball behind you but letting the ball fall in front of you. Next we try the exact same but with a racket. The next phase is to follow the same steps during a rally. The bouncing and dropping rule really helps the children ensure they have time before they hit the ball, which allows them to control their shots and complete a rally.
The next step is learning to serve. We first start by focussing on the main foot. Whether left or right footed, this foot should be pointing towards the net post. The other foot is shoulder width apart behind but square on.
That’s when the serve starts. With the racket behind the head like a smash, we practice tossing the ball above the head with the weaker hand. We like to pretend that there’s a clock above our head and that the toss needs to go up at 1 o’clock. We then reach up to hit the ball.
It’s a very basic technique, but a fundamental part of the game.
At the end of each session we try to put everything together. The kids play small matches, hone their new skills and really enjoy the game of tennis.
Want to get involved?
If you’re interested in getting your children involved in tennis sessions at any of the following schools: Hinchley Wood Primary School, Auriol Junior School, Mead Infant School, Christ Church Junior School, Christ Church Infant School and Hollymount Primary School - just get in touch today and we'll get the ball rolling.
Or maybe you've got kids at a primary or secondary school that would be interested in having regular coaching sessions? We're always on the look out for new opportunities.