With the sun peeking through the clouds and April underway, for tennis fans living in New York City that could only mean one thing: It’s time to get ready for the outdoor tennis season! As any casual tennis fan knows, the serve is the most important stroke in tennis. And to help your budding tennis star improve his or her serve and enjoy the game of tennis, we turned to the pros at Advantage QuickStart Tennis for some guidance.
From Paul Fontana, the Director of Administration
1. Teach your child to throw overhand–Playing catch is a great way to develop the serving motion. Point, step, and throw is a simple formula to learn how to properly throw a ball.
2. Practice throwing to targets–Go to an open field/space, and place three cones or targets approximately two feet apart. Next, have your child stand about eight feet away from each target. Then, play catch, but alternate where you stand behind each target. Note that teaching directional intent is a building block stage to serving.
3. Get a racket in your child’s hands–You can go to a tennis court, or to a schoolyard with a wall and have your child stand approximately 15-20 feet away from the net or wall. Next, have your child place the racket in a back-scratch position. After that, have him or her toss the ball up and then have the child try to hit the ball over the net or wall. If you could demonstrate this for your child, that is always helpful; I would switch on and off, and keep encouraging his or her efforts.
4. Make it into a game–Setting up targets or trying to hit the ball against the wall or over the net three times in a row is a simple bar to pass so make it fun for your child. Remember: Tennis is a game and you want to keep it in perspective. You want to have your child feel a sense of accomplishment!
5. Make sure you don’t turn your child off–If your child is struggling, go back to an exercise that he or she enjoys. If you recall the film Field of Dreams, the simple act of playing catch with your child can be very powerful. The serve is complicated because of the toss and the hit. Again, don’t get frustrated if your child struggles with this phase. Remember to keep encouraging your child and make sure he or she is having fun. If your child is taking private or group lessons, make sure that the serve is being taught. Often times the serve is not emphasized and it develops later; however, the serve is the most important stroke and it takes time to master so be patient and it will develop in due time.
For more from Advantage QuickStart, visit advantagetennisclubs.com.