It is important to realize that one of the goals of playing a sport is to develop athletic skills. Without developing things such as hand-eye coordination, foot coordination, movement speed, and reaction time, one can never truly reach their potential when it comes to sports. It can be all too easy to let a tennis pro feed your child tennis balls for an hour a week and hope for the best. But, if you want your child to succeed in tennis or as an athlete, in general, it is essential to work on their athletic skills and not just their strokes. In this article, we will go over things you can do with your child outside of tennis to help them become better athletes.
Hand-eye coordination and reaction time
One of the easiest things you can do with your child to improve their coordination is playing catch. Throwing different kinds of balls to them at different speeds will not only strengthen their hand-eye but, will help them develop their reaction time. It will also help them with their judgment of moving objects which is one of the hardest parts of sports. Bouncing and throwing balls back and forth with your kid regularly is one of the easiest and most effective ways of teaching coordination.
To improve your child’s reaction time is to have them throw or hit balls against a wall. Since the ball will get back to them faster than if they threw it to a person (no waiting for the other person to catch and throw the ball back) they will be forced to react faster. The closer they get to the wall the harder it will become.
Footwork and Movement
Teaching your child to split step will drastically improve their movement in any sport. You can check out more on the split step in my footwork article here. To improve your kid’s split step have them split step right before you throw a ball in a random direction. The more you do this, the faster they will get at changing direction.
Kicking a ball around will help your child learn how to control their legs and feet. Better control of their legs and feet will allow them to move around the court better. If they can move better and have better foot coordination, they will be able to set themselves up to hit better shots.
Having your child run more will improve their speed. The more they try to push themselves with their movement the stronger and faster their legs will become. Doing footwork or sprinting drills is your best bet to accomplish this. You can make it more interesting by timing them and turning these drills into games to help push your child. Start with simple short sprints and then start adding changing direction into the exercises. Ladder drills also work well for this. You can check out some ladder drills in my article here. If you need more footwork drills, ask your child’s tennis coach to help you out.
By improving your child’s movement, coordination, and speed, they will become better athletes. Being a better athlete will allow them to make huge strides in their tennis game and any other sport they wish to pursue.