When it comes to tennis, you have a few different options on how to delegate your child’s playing time. You can send your child for tennis lessons, hitting or drill clinics, and you can send them to tournaments. Unfortunately, we often don’t have enough time to send our kids for everything, Picking and choosing can often lead to disappointment. It can feel like wasted time and effort when you send your child off to play, and they come back saying it wasn’t what they wanted or needed. While you can’t necessarily go wrong with most lessons, clinics, and tournaments, it’s important to know what to expect from each one so you can give your child the playing they both want and need.
Tennis Lessons is where the major groundwork is done on your child’s tennis game. This is where they learn the majority of their technique and begin to learn strategy, tactics, and how to control the ball.
In a private lesson, you can expect to see some one-on-one work with a coach which is why the lessons are so important. These one-on-one sessions can include technique work, individualized drills (such as footwork or aggression drills), and work on patterns and strategy (such as how and when to come up to the net). The private lesson environment allows for thorough explanations on what your child is working on that day as well as why they are doing each drill or why they are focusing on a particular part of a technique.
A tennis lesson is not always a great workout. If the coach wants to work on something very specific it might end up not being all that tiring so don’t send your child off to tennis lessons with the expectations that they will be getting a full work out. Don’t expect full matches or sets to be played either. While a coach might have your child play a few games to work on something, it is rare for them to have your child play a full set. If your child is hitting in on another person’s lesson, don’t expect much work to be done for your kid. In fact, they might even end up sitting out for a few minutes while the coach works with the student taking the lesson.
Tennis lessons are an excellent way to get some real personalized work done for your child and help them acquire the skills necessary to bring their game to the next level.
Clinics provide the opportunity for your child to take what they have learned in private lessons and to implement it into their tennis game. Clinics normally have a lot hitting allowing your child to practice everything they have been working on.
Clinics can involve either fed drills (where the coach hits each ball to the players) or live ball drills/play (the coach will at most, feed in the first ball to start a point) and often have both. While there are clinics that focus solely on feeding drills and live ball drills/play, most clinics include both as they try to jam as much as they can into the short period of time they have with your child. This is neither good or bad but is something you should ask about before you sign your child up for a clinic. We will go over what to expect from both a hitting and a feeding clinic. Note that a hybrid will have what you should expect from both just less of each as they will be trying to do both in the same amount of time.
This is where all the drills have a coach feeding the balls to your child. They are designed so that your kid can hit a ton of balls. Each drill will be working on something specific, and the coach will give some light commentary and direction. However, your child will have to self-correct on their own because the pro will not be able to give one-on-one time while there are multiple kids on the court. These clinics will also introduce your children to strategies about when to hit certain types of shots while working on specific drills. The clinics are often great workouts.
Live Ball Clinics
Live ball clinics involve a lot of hitting and rallies with other kids. The coaches don’t touch the ball unless they are feeding one in to start a point. This structured live ball play is the perfect opportunity to ingrain patterns and strategy into your child’s game. It is also an excellent time for them to work on different styles of playing. Your child will be able to work on going from ball to ball in differently structured scenarios which are the best way to cement everything they have learned from their private lessons and feeding drills.
Clinics are important to any tennis player. However, they will not provide much one-on-one or specialized teaching. All drills will be focused on the entire group so your child may not end up working on exactly what they want. Clinics are also not the place to go for technique work. Since there will be multiple kids on a court, coaches will not be able to give any hands-on teaching which is required for learning technique.
During tournaments, your child can see how far they have progressed. Since there is no coaching allowed while your kid is on the court, it is an excellent way to see exactly what lessons have stuck with your child. You can expect your child to play at least one match at a tennis tournament which will help them learn how to play and cope with intense situations. Don’t expect your child to play their best tennis at a tournament, especially if they have not played in many of them. Not only will nerves prevent them from possibly playing their best, but there is a learning curve on taking everything learned in lessons and clinics and bringing it into a match scenario.
I would highly suggest having your kid play in a tournament, at the very least, every other month so both of you can get an idea of how their tennis game is coming along.
I hope this post was helpful! Please let me know in the comments below!