A Mid-Summer Tennis Update!

T is learning great form during his Tennis for Tots class through Long Beach Parks and Recreation this summer under the direction of Coach Richard.

I mentioned a little while ago that T is taking tennis this summer, and though it’s hard to believe but we are already halfway through the class session to date! While each 30-minute class aren’t lessons per se, given the largest class he’s had to date has had about eight kids in it, it is more of a semi-private group lesson than just a coach teaching a group of kids. Because of the lower class enrollment, there has been a bit of time for Coach Richard to guide each child one-on-one at least once during the class each week.

T practices his form as a righty during his Tennis for Tots class (this is week four).

Tennis for Tots is a 10-week session each Monday afternoon, and we are now in week six. I have to say (as does his grandma who got to see his class last week) that T has made some awesome progress so far! Given that he’d never really picked up a racquet before this class and during the first two classes T could barely make contact with the ball, I’d say he’s come a long, long way. I’d heard during our first class that Coach Richard has quite the reputation in Long Beach for teaching kids to play tennis, and now I see why based on T’s progress.

T started Tennis for Tots in week one as a lefty.

In week three of Tennis for Tots, we had to miss our regularly scheduled Monday afternoon class, so we tried a different location on a Saturday morning to see if T would perform better than at the hotter time of the day. There was some improvement, but not that remarkable, and the Saturday morning class was much more crowded so he got less time to play. We’ve decided to stick with Monday afternoons for now.

In week four of Tennis for Tots, Coach Richard started teaching the kids how to net volley. So fun!

T moves to the ball during week five of Tennis for Tots. You might be able to see some spots on the ground in this and some of the other photos; in this drill, Coach Richard removes the second set of spots to see how well the kids remember to move off of the yellow spots toward the ball to make the hit.

T has gone from starting out as a not-so-successful lefty in his first week to a much stronger right-handed player since week two. Since week three, he’s been making contact with the ball almost every time he has the opportunity to do so, and most hits are going over the net and into the green of the court! In week four, they started learning about net volleys, and last week, they did a lot more drills without marked spots on the ground to learn more about moving to the ball to hit.

In all of T’s Tennis for Tots classes, they have ample opportunity to help clean up from all the different class drills. So many tennis balls!

The kids play a game of “musical racquets” after their Tennis for Tots class.

I’ll admit that the first couple of weeks that I wasn’t so sure about Coach Richard and his approach with the kids, but I can see from the kids’ reception to his instruction and their  progress overall that his matter-of-fact style works wonders with kids this age. Just like we parents need to repeat things over and over (and over!) again, so do our children’s teachers and coaches. While each class the last few weeks has appeared to be the same to us adults, to the kids it’s a nice routine where they can continue to learn and improve on their newly acquired tennis skills. And sprinkled in for good measure are a few fun games – and clean-up exercises – to break up the class (sometimes I think the kids like these parts best!).

During week four, T had a few great hits during his Tennis for Tots class. However, not all of them went over the net!

T hits the ball over the net during week five of Tennis for Tots. Thankfully he didn’t hit the tot running around on the other side of the net!

I am still surprised T chose tennis as his summer class activity through parks and rec, but I am happy he did. It’s given him exposure to something new that neither C nor I really do on a regular basis, and to me that’s telling about his own personality development and sense of independence; it also is proof positive that we’re doing our darndest NOT to force our own interests on T as well. Seriously, we just do not want to be “those parents” if you know what I mean RMT’ers.  In fact, because T chose this class, it sort-of forced C and I to dig out our own 20-year-old racquets just in case T wants to practice on non-class days (PS – Did you know that tennis racquets have changed a lot in the last 20 years?!). That self-motivation hasn’t come to be quite yet, but C and I are ready to play if T asks and wants to.

T’s best hit and follow-through that I’ve captured on film during his Tennis for Tots class. He’s making some great progress and having a blast!

Hope we can keep this nice rally going through August!

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