Characteristics of the age group
This age group is more able to concentrate, and to do so for longer periods of time. However, they need to be interested and inspired by enthusiastic and energetic coaches who are positive and encouraging. Physically, they are more able to refine the motor skills and, with practice, can show fluent and well developed skills. The children are becoming more independent. They are able to understand the concepts of winning and losing, even if they need help in knowing how to cope with them. Some early maturers may be evident, specially with girls. They are able to share and enjoy being on teams, (especially girls).
They need to develop:
- Agility, balance and more complex coordination
- Reaction and anticipation skills
- Speed over a short time frame
- Throwing, catching and hitting skills
- Skill learning (this is very important at this age) — basic shapes of strokes, etc.
Mental and emotional skills
- Decision-making skills are developing rapidly
- Independence is developing, and self reliance is increasing rapidly
- Concentration is improving and activities can take place over a longer period of time
- Confidence in boys is developing rapidly
- Understanding of winning and losing is developing
- The ability to understand the difference between ability and effort
- Enthusiasm (this is paramount and easily seen)
- An awareness of who they like and dislike
- Working with others and sharing is normal
- The ability to work with others. Both boys and girls usually prefer to work with their own gender
- Accepting adult opinions as important and accepting them
- Verbalizing opinions and thoughts and giving explanations.
They will develop those skills more quickly with the following:
- 21-, 23- and 25-inch racquets and low compression balls 7
- 3-foot net
- 60-foot courts
Scoring and competitive structures
- Scoring first to four games (no ad scoring), with third set being first to seven points
- Best 2-of-3 concept
- Scoring for self and opponent
- Playing individually and also in a team of 4-6 players
- Playing doubles
- Intra and inter-club competition
- The coaching environment should be positive and encouraging with children being given a sense of what could be improved.
- Keep children in groups and teams.
- Keep friends together, but also find different ways to mix groups in abilities for short periods.
- Keep interest levels high by moving between different skill activities in a circuit.
- Success and enjoyment are essential so tasks should be set that enable the child to improve and feel increasing competence.
- Feedback should be more specific and related to the task, not the child’s behavior.
- Activity is essential and visual learning is still the dominant learning style.
- Teach through the game and develop the technical skills in order to improve the game. Children of this age are able to move and hit in the game situation.
- Keep things simple.
Length of Session
Suggested time for each session is one hour, with a short break after 30 minutes.