Tennis activities for Ages 9 – 10               modified: 2013-3-2

Movement Activities

Dynamic Warm-up - The following activities are a perfect way to warm up and also give players an opportunity to toss, catch and learn about the flight of the ball.

Use some or all of these with the coach leading the activities:

  1. Jog in place while juggling ball from right hand to left hand and back
  2. Slow jog and fast juggle
  3. Fast feet and slow juggle
  4. Regular jog and regular juggle
  5. Skip and regular juggle
  6. High knees and regular juggle
  7. Heel kicks and regular juggle
  8. Toss one ball with a partner while shuffling through the group
  9. Bounce pass one ball with partner while shuffling through group


Instant Rally Progression – Forehand - Each child will have a racquet and ball. Follow this sequence in order and young players will develop rally skills in just a few minutes. To keep kids engaged, move through these activities quickly. For example, the coach might say, “Let’s see how many you can do in 30 seconds.”

1. Tap up, bounce and catch - Players will tap the ball up about head-level height, let the ball bounce and catch it.

Jacks. The player tosses the ball up and lets it bounce and bumps it up with the racquet and catches it and announces, “onesies.” The player then attempts to tap it up twice, “twosies” and so on until they reach “fivesies.”

2. Self rally. This time, rather than catching the ball after the first bounce, continue to tap the ball up after one bounce to about head-level height.

Lobster Trap. Players work with a partner, one player holding two racquets and one player with a foam ball. The feeder (player with the ball) makes an underhand toss and bounces the ball to the other player, who traps the ball between two racquets (lobster claws). The player then turns sideways, drops the ball from the racquets and gently hits the ball back to the feeder, who catches it after one bounce.
Increase the challenge by having both players with two racquets and have both do the sequence: turn sideways, drop, hit, bounce and trap. Include a large target area so players have a visual of where to aim their drop-hit or underhand toss.51

3. Rally with a partner to a target. Find a partner and alternate tapping the ball up to about head level. After the bounce, the partner taps up and lets the ball bounce. See how many consecutive tap ups each pair can get in a row. To help them focus on hitting up rather than out, place a poly spot, donut or draw a chalk circle as a target between the two players. Players should try to hit every ball up to head level.

4. Rally over line with partner. Draw a line or find a line and place each player on either side. Have them match up racquet faces forehand to forehand and move back two to three steps. Have them rally so the ball bounces over the line. The  all should be hit about head high. See how many they can get in a row, hitting all balls on the forehand side.

5. Rally over a net. This is similar to the above, but the players will rally over a net or barrier. Start at the net and have players match up racquet faces forehand to forehand and move 3-4 feet away from the net and play all shots on the forehand side. To assist them with control and direction, add a target about three feet from the net (poly spot, donut or chalk circle).

6. Game—Step-back forehands. Players are on either side of the net and match up racquet faces forehand to forehand, then take two steps back. The player with the ball drops and hits it to the partner, and they rally for two shots on the forehand side. After two successful consecutive hits, both players take one step back and try again for another two-ball rally. After each successful two-ball rally, they move back. If they miss, they must both move forward one step. Try this again with a three-ball rally before the players can step back and eventually get to a four-ball rally.

Overhand Serve Progression

Demonstrate an overhand serve in slow motion from the baseline into the service court on the 60-foot court. Explain that serves must be hit from behind the baseline into the opposite service court. Each game begins with a serve in the deuce court, and the server plays the next serve into the ad court, alternating sides for every serve until the game is complete. The server gets two serves to get the ball in the correct service court.

The following activities demonstrate a Serve-and-Return Progression and are done with a partner on the other side of the net:

Throw over the net to a partner - Since the serve is like an overhand throwing motion (see Overhand Throw to ensure players are throwing the ball correctly), have players throw a ball over the net to their partners, who catch it after one bounce and throw the ball back. Both players should start at the service line and move back to the baseline after a series of successful throws and catches.

Toss, touch and freeze – Position players two steps away from the net. Have them stand at a 45-degree angle to the net with their racquets back and their arms bent at the elbow like a quarterback preparing to throw. Have players toss the ball up with the non-dominant hand, reach up to full extension and freeze at the contact point. The racquet face should be directed at the service court. Several players can be positioned along the net with their partners on the opposite side. The partners will trap the ball, move two steps from the net and serve it back over the net.

Note: Make sure that players freeze at the point of contact so they can see the contact point and make any necessary corrections to the toss. To prevent them from over-swinging, see if they can make the ball bounce four times before it goes over the service line.

Add a step, serve and trap. Begin all players four steps from the net. Have players toss, hit and follow through so the ball goes to the partner in the service court. After one bounce the partner traps the ball on the racquet

face with his hand and serves it back to his partner. After each time the  partners serve and trap, both players move back a step and repeat the activity. Players should be sideways when trapping the ball.


Up and Down the River - Players are paired up and will play singles matches on the 36-foot courts. Points begin with an underhand serve and one player serves two points before switching servers. Play can be done using either a set amount of time determined by the coach or a set number of points. Players could play any number of points up to seven. Seven replicates the scoring used for this age in the QuickStart Tennis format. Players play until time is called or until they reach the established number of points. Whoever is ahead when time is called or if someone reaches the set number of points, the winner moves up and matches up with a different player. The runner-ups move down and match up with a different player. The designated amount of time works well for this game because everyone changes, either up or down, at the same time.

Tag Team Singles. A minimum of four players are needed for this game. Divide players into two groups, with each group forming a line behind the middle of each baseline. One player is up on each side (A1 and B1). The first player from side A (A1) drop-hits the ball over the net and moves to the back of her line. The first player on B (B1) returns the ball and goes to the back of the line on his side. From there, each subsequent player hits one ball and moves to the back of the line, keeping the point going until one side misses. This can be a cooperative game and the team (players in both lines are on the same team) attempts to get 10 consecutive rallies. For safety, make sure you use a waiting spot for those players not hitting.

Wipe Out. Divide the group into two teams (A and B) of at least four players each. Each team stands in a line along the back fence on opposite ends of the court. To begin, one person from each team plays a singles point beginning with a drop-hit. After the point, the winner (A1) stays on the court and adds a second person (A2) to her side of the court. The player who loses the point (B1) goes to the end of her line (side B) and the next player (B2) begins the point with a drop-hit to the two people  On the opposite side. The team that wins the point keeps adding an additional player until all players are on the court and that team wins the point. When multiple players are playing against one player, the lone player can use the doubles boundaries, and the multiple players must use the singles court. The game ends when one side has all its players on the court and wins the 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.

Bucketheads - You will need a couple of buckets and some towels or t-shirts to place in the bucket. Players are in teams of two. Player 1 should stand at the net, and player 2 should stand at either the service line or base line (on the same side of the net) depending on their skill level.  Coaches:  place spots or throw down lines to ensure that each team is working with the same amount of distance between the the buckethead and the hitter.  You may adjust this later depending on skill levels. Also, make sure to switch partners often.

Player 1 is the feeder and player 2 has the bucket on their head. Player 1 hits the ball with an arc to player 2. Player 2 must keep the bucket on their head while trying to catch the ball. They repeat until time is up.

This should last no more than 30 seconds. The team with the most balls in their bucket wins.

This game can be done with two groups of two on each side of the court and two groups of two waiting and picking up balls.