Tennis Activities for Ages 5 – 6 Modified 2013-4-12
Racquet imitations -Use a racquet as a prop for a number of imaginative activities:, Large spoon stirring a pot , Guitar,Canoe paddle, Flag. Hat, Mirror, Saw, Fan, Umbrella. Ask the kids for an idea
Frogs in a Pond - Players work as a team to get from one side of the court to the other (the swamp). To cross the swamp, one player must step only on the “lily pad” (poly spots or donuts). Each team has two poly spots and one player places one “lily pad” in front, where the other player can hop to or step on.
The partner picks up the vacated “lily pad” and moves it in front so the partner can move forward by stepping or hopping to the next “lily pad.”
This continues until one team makes it across the swamp. At this point, the players change roles and one person moves the lily pads while the other steps or hops to the open lily pad in front until she makes it back across the swamp.
Ball Drop - Players are in pairs facing each other. One player has one ball in each hand and has arms extended at shoulder level. The player drops one ball and the other player has to run and catch the dropped ball after one bounce. Switch partners after three drops.
Call My Name: Children are in pairs, one partner with a ball and the other with her back to her partner. The partner with the ball tosses it up and calls out the partner’s name. The partner has to turn around and catch the ball after one bounce.
Flamingo - Have the children move around the court like an animal the coach chooses. When the coach shouts out “Flamingo,” the players stop the animal imitation and balance on one foot with their arms out and eyes looking straight ahead. Repeat several times, choosing a different animal to imitate. You can even let the children make the animal noise.
Other animals –
Hummingbird with arms moving short and quick
Robin with medium length and medium speed arm movements
Eagle with long and slow arm movements
Warm-up-Relay Races – Place the Kids in teams (limit the number of kids per team)
- Walk the dog: Place a tennis ball on the ground and pretend it is a dog. Give the dog a name (a good pet name like “Spot” or “Lily”). Use the tennis racquet like a ‘leash’ to move the ball. Don’t let the dog get away
- Ball on Racquet – They can put the ball in the throat of the racquet
- Upsies/Downsies: moving while bouncing the ball on the racquet; how many times without “missing”
- Sandwich: Eevery person has a racket and ball. They start behind a line and TOGETHER have to make a stack (alternating racket, ball, racket, ball, etc) and walk TOGETHER across a line about 20-30 feet away. This one is done in PE classes too since it makes the kids "work together" for the goal of the group.
Balance relay -Divide the class into teams. Each team should have only one racquet, but each member should hold a beanbag or ball. Place one basket at the net for each team. The first person in each line starts the relay with the racquet, balancing the beanbag on the strings while running to the net. The player dumps the beanbag in the basket and returns to the baseline to pass the racquet to the next player, and the relay continues until everyone has had a turn.
Alligator River - The players line up across from each other on either side of the doubles alley, with their racquets and one ball for each pair. The coach or one of the players is the “alligator” and is going to walk down the “river” (i.e., the alley). As the coach walks down the alley, the players roll the ball to their partner, trying to hit the alligator.
Applause - All players have a ball in their own space. Each will toss the ball up, clap and catch after the bounce. To increase the difficulty, have them clap twice before catching, then three times, then as many times as they can before the ball bounces twice.
Monsters vs. Hero -Partners are positioned on the doubles side line facing the other doubles side line. Each team/pair have 4-7 cones/targets placed in lines in front of them spaced evenly stretching to the opposite doubles side line. Player one (monster) runs and turns over the cones /targets then runs back to tag the next person in line (Superman/woman). That player then runs to set the cones back up. Go for record time.
Rolly Polly - The players stand across from each other on either side of the doubles alley. Players have a racquet and should position themselves sideways to the ball as they might be positioned for a forehand (see illustration)—with the edge of the racquet on the ground behind the ball and the strings touching the ball. Using the racquet, the player with the ball rolls it to his partner, who stops the ball with his or foot and rolls it back. After five successful attempts, the two players roll the ball and stop it with the racquet before rolling the ball back.
Lollipops– Roll or Toss to a Color. Two players, each with a racquet, stand 5 to 6 feet from each other with two spots of different colors in front of them. One of the players calls out a color of one of the spots and rolls the ball to that spot. The partner moves to stop and pick up the ball, calls out a color and rolls the ball back to that spot. Start this game with a rolling ball, progress to a tossed ball and finally incorporate rolling the ball with a racquet.
Koosh Ball Pass – Use one Koosh ball or beanbag for each pair. Have the players begin by standing close together with their racquets, passing the Koosh ball back and forth from one racquet to the other. After several successful trials, have them move back so they have to use a gentle toss to get the Koosh ball from one racquet to the other. Add a challenge by tossing the Koosh ball low, high and even adding a creative catch, such as standing on one leg, between the legs, just above the ground, on one knee, etc. Let the kids be creative with their catch.
Bungee Jump - Each player has a ball that is balanced on the strings. The players move around the court balancing the ball. When the coach calls out, “Bungee Jump,” the players let the ball drop off the racquet, let it bounce and then catch the ball back on the racquet. They may have to use their hands to trap the ball on the strings, but with practice they can just use the racquet face. Once the ball is on the strings, the player continues to move until the coach calls, “Bungee Jump,” again.
One Bounce – Two Bounce – One player tosses the ball underhand over the net and calls out “One” or “Two.” The other player must allow the ball to bounce that number of times before catching it and tossing it back, also calling out a number. Start with playground balls and progress to one player trapping the ball with the racquet, and then eventually hitting the ball on either one or two bounces. *** Demonstrate an underhand toss, showing the short backswing and pointing the finger where you want the ball to go.
Team Lily Pad - Players work as a team to get from one side of the court to the other (the swamp). To cross the swamp, one player must step only on the “lily pads” (poly spots or donuts). Each team has two poly spots and one player places one “lily pad” in front, where the other player can hop to or step on. The partner picks up the vacated “lily pad” and moves it in front so the partner can move forward by stepping or hopping to the next “lily pad.” This continues until one team makes it across the swamp. At this point, the players change roles and one person moves the lily pads while the other steps or hops to the open lily pad in front until she makes it back across the swamp.
Splat: Two players each with a racquet and a ball pyramid made of four balls (three for the base and one on top). One player drops and taps the ball up at about head-level height, trying to hit the ball pyramid to make it “splat.” When the balls are hit, the player scores a point.
Simon Sez - using the lines of the Court. Use this activity to learn the areas and lines of the court. The coach calls out a line or area of the court and a movement. For example: “Hop on one foot, skip, tip-toe, little mouse steps, monster steps, etc.” After all players have gone to their line or part of the court, the coach goes to the correct area so everyone learns the correct line or area.
Dungeons & dragons -Children form a line along the net or baseline from sideline to sideline. They are all proclaimed dragons and their goal is to use their racquets to stay out of the dungeon. The coach tosses a ball to the first person in line. If the ball is returned successfully with a volley (or any stroke the group is working on), the child remains in that position and the coach moves to the next player in line. If the child misses the shot, she goes to the end of the dungeon –- the end of the line. The coach tosses the same number of balls to everyone in line, usually one to three.
Cable relay - Divide the children into two lines, one on each end of the teaching cable. Place spots where children should hit the first stroke. Let them hit groundstrokes moving the ball along the cable. (A parent-coach can steady the ball between hits if necessary.) When the child reaches the end of the cable, another child can hit the ball back in the other direction.
- If you have more than one cable, make it a relay race.
- Place older children in one line so that each child can hit the ball down the cable and back.
Three strikes groundstrokes/volleys - Use spots to position children at the net for groundstrokes or volleys. Instructors or parent-coaches toss a foam, low-compression or large rubber ball to the child and count how many the child can get over the net before missing three. Call "bounce, hit" for those children who need help with timing. If the child gets five, move him or her back one step from the net.
- Do forehand and backhand groundstrokes and volleys separately.