Tennis at school and at home
Introducing children to tennis in school is important, and with many school systems considering virtual classrooms, now is the time to consider how we can best inspire students at school and at home to become avid tennis players.
USTA grants, curriculum guides, videos and trainings empower PE teachers to offer a sequential and standards-based tennis introduction to their students. These clear and intuitive progressions help students efficiently build their skills and confidence, and this is valuable, but generating excitement is equally, if not more, valuable toward inspiring new tennis players.
Although the current coronavirus environment has changed things considerably, school tennis assemblies provide the starkest example of the power of creating excitement. At an assembly, an entire grade comes together during one class to experience tennis. Because there are so many students, only a fraction of those attending play. Nevertheless, an enthusiastic and skilled instructor can generate such excitement that many students, even those who did not hit a single tennis ball, register for follow-up programs.
This in no way suggests we stop promoting full units of tennis. Rather, it suggests that those units are at their best when they are infused with enthusiasm, and chiefly attempt to get students thrilled about their next tennis experience. The same holds true for virtual instruction.
Virtual tennis instruction on social media, such as the “Become a Tennis Player Challenge” or #batpc, provides beginners with confidence and skill building progressions and motivate players to look forward to playing again. Since many students will be attending virtual school this fall, if you are a teaching pro, it is the perfect time to create your own virtual units of tennis for local PE teachers and students. The teachers will appreciate your help in creating confidence and skill building content, and more importantly, your enthusiasm will inspire students to play tennis outside of PE and likely at your facility.
Kevin Theos is the Tennis Service Representative for Alabama in the USTA Southern Section.