More children are becoming involved in tennis at an earlier age. Children ages 10 and under use modified racks and balls on smaller courts to support transition into the game. The health benefits are great for children and teens who choose to play the game of tennis.
Childhood is a time when kids grow at a rapid pace. Puberty causes changes to teenage bodies which is a great time to keep up a physical activity which keeps kids healthy and connected to a peer social group. Developmentally boys and girls develop differently and tennis can support many areas of growth at all ages, including physical and psychological growth.
Physical and Psychological Development
Playing tennis on a regular basis has many health benefits to a child’s physical, emotional and mental development. The human system is designed to work at an optimal level. Some of the physical benefits may include the following.
- Aerobic and cardiovascular fitness
- Anaerobic fitness with short bursts of activity followed by periods of rest
- Speed, agility and coordination
- Leg strength and stamina
- Fine and gross motor control skills
- Enhanced balance
- Bone strength and density to help prevent osteoporosis
- Immune system support
- Nutritional habits by learning to eat properly, use energy stores and practice healthy recovery
The psychological benefits may help children learn to develop positive character traits, build self-esteem and support confidence in everyday situations. Some of the following benefits may occur:
- Improved work ethic
- Discipline to work on skills in practice and control in competition
- Managing failure and making mistakes
- Accept responsibility for self, others and equipment during match play
- Learning to manage stress
- Enhanced problem solving skills
- Learning teamwork
- Development of social skills through interaction and communication before a match
- Having fun in a competitive and physically challenging environment
Up to the age of fourteen, boys and girls can perform conditioning exercises together. After age fourteen, training groups are typically split or individualized to accommodate physiological differences in strength, power and growth. Resistance training is helpful for development of strength but not typically for prepubescent children. Injury risk may be too high but certain programs can be helpful for younger children to train muscles and activate the brain to learn skills necessary to be healthy and happy playing the game of tennis.
Girls are typically more flexible than boys at any age but gender differences are greatest during the adolescent growth spurt and sexual maturation. Emphasis must be on flexibility and stretching to keep young bodies healthy and injury free. The more balanced a training program is for young players, the better it supports overall function, development and play of the game itself. Youth will develop many health benefits from participating in the sport of tennis, especially when the game is introduced at an early age.
For more information about our Youth Tennis Programs, visit our program page and contact us at the front desk!