Tip of the Week (Coach Dave): Why should my child use coloured tennis balls? Surely the sooner they get to full pressure yellow balls, the better right? Wrong! November 11 2014, 155 Comments
At Anyone For Tennis, we focus on helping your child train using the right coloured tennis balls in relation to their age and experience during tennis lessons.
Our tennis coaches are all mini-tennis certified and highly experienced in this area of the game. We believe that this is vital In order to speed up your child's overall learning process.
Each player will be carefully assessed by our coaches before being recommended on which coloured ball to start off with.
The Mini-Tennis System using traffic-light coloured balls (Red, Orange, Green) has been in place in the UK since around 2000 and before that, there was Foundation Tennis using orange balls and Short-Tennis using sponge balls.
There are many other versions of modified tennis around the world, for example ITF Tennis 10s and the acclaimed Australian "Hot Shots" programs. All these modified versions of the game are designed to make tennis easier for kids to learn the strokes and have the ability to enjoy a match.
Smaller, Slower, Easier.
Mini-tennis is played on smaller courts and using smaller rackets that are more appropriate for a young child who is just starting to play.
The mini-tennis ball bounces much lower than a traditional ball, enabling him/her to strike it at a more comfortable height as opposed to hitting most balls at head height or above. The latter often leads to extreme grips and poor technique, which makes it very difficult for him/her to re-learn at a later stage in their development, not to mention chronic injuries that can be caused by the heavy rackets and balls.
Assessing children to the correct level under the age of 10 and using the right ball is where our tennis coaches have particular expertise.
Note from the diagram above that children can enter the system at any age.
For example, a beginner 9 year old would start on orange balls. However, a very talented and coachable 4 year old who started taking red ball tennis lessons and playing 2-3 times per week could easily progress through the levels quickly and be able to play green ball tennis by the age of 6.
A lot depends on the player's love for the game, co-ordination, athleticism and playing experience.
Q: What if my child has always used regular balls? Does he/she need to go back to green balls?
As long as your child is technically proficient and can hold their shape while rallying at speed and under match conditions, there would be no need to move back.
However, if put to the test and the tennis coach finds that the rally is breaking down after less than 5 strokes due to lack of fundamentals, then it would be beneficial in the long term to train with a more appropriate ball depending on their skill level.
This can often be hard to take for the player/parent initially, but they will quickly realise that the learning process is faster with a softer and more appropriate ball. A good point to note is that most under 10 competitions use green balls now as well.