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Vanhempainopas – Parents manual
”Looking back to these, a little bit less than 40 years of playing tennis, it has given me so much. First of all I appreciate that I have been able to do something I love for so long and I consider myself extremely lucky to have found something I enjoy doing so much. Tennis was fun since the first day I started, it’s still as fun now and I have no doubt it will be as fun in the future. I think the most valuable thing tennis has given me are the friends and the priceless life lessons which have helped me to get to know myself better and to develop as a person. The rest of the things that tennis has given me, for example the wins, come way after these ones.” – Jarkko Nieminen
Read full Jarkko’s intro
U10 is tennis for players aged 10-and-Under, played on smaller and progressive court sizes with slower balls. It is a fun and appropriate way to start tennis and makes it easy for children to play the game, develop good technique and tactics, and importantly a life-long love for the sport.
“I grew up playing with big soft balls, really soft balls. I could easily swing through the shot, and the balls didn’t fly all over the place” – Roger Federer
In 2012 the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Rules of Tennis were amended to state that competition for players aged 10-and-Under must be played with slower red, orange and green balls on the appropriate sized courts. At HVS, our programme for U10 players is based on these same principles. This manual is written for you as the parent of U10 players to help ensure that your children have a positive experience playing tennis, and to understand what we do and why we do it.
The HVS U10 Programme Philosophy: Why we do what we do
“We want all children to love tennis, to love playing and competing. We teach children to learn to play the game in a holistic way, and not just to learn strokes, through a strong technical, tactical, physical and mental framework which evolves as the child progresses through the different levels at white, red, orange and green”
The HVS programme
HVS isn’t just about U10 tennis. In fact, we believe that tennis is a game for life, where all players of all abilities and ages can play, have fun, form friendships and compete well into their senior years. Our programme welcomes and encourages recreational and competitive players at U10 tennis, junior, adult and senior levels.
In competition for U10 players, the ITF recommends a progressive structure using slower red, orange and green balls.
The Finnish Tennis Federation supports these guidelines along with all major tennis nations around the world.
We want children to learn to play tennis at a young age and to continue to play as a junior and into adulthood. For this reason, our development pathway has annual plans with objectives for each term, which help us to know that children are given a holistic tennis education.
Each coach and assistant at HVS should know the plan, and know what they are aiming to achieve by the end of each term and in each lesson.
The different levels in the 10 and under programme are:
|J0 (1-3 years)||Practices tasks together in the lesson with the parent in a variety of playing areas|
|J1 (3-4 years)||Performs assigned tasks in the lesson independently or with a coach in a variety of playing areas|
|J2 (4-5 years)||Performs assigned tasks in the lesson independently or with a coach in a variety of playing areas|
|J3 (5-7 years)||Is playing with other children over the net in an 8m red court|
|J4 (6-9 years)||Is playing mini tennis matches against other children in a 12m red court|
|J5||Plays with other children using a red or orange ball in an orange court which varies from 12-18m|
|J6||Plays midi tennis matches (orange ball) against other children in a 18m orange court|
|J7||Play tennis matches (green ball) against other children in a full size court|
Many of the objectives in lessons may appear the same at each level. This is normal because the playing environment (court dimensions, ball speed and bounce, technical and tactical ability) is changing as the players progress from one level to another.
What we promise from an U10 tennis programme at HVS?
We teach children to learn to play the game in a holistic way, and not just to learn strokes. Although we believe that developing good technical foundations at a young age is important, we also believe that children should learn to play in an effective and efficient way. This means we aim to develop tactical ability, physical qualities and mental skills alongside technical basics.
To do this, we base all our lessons on a following framework:
We also believe that learning to hit the ball is just a small part of the game. In every lesson, we ensure that players follow our simple stroke production cycle, which we call the 5 Rs, which ensures that they learn:
- receiving skills
- movement skills
- hitting skills
- recovery skills
in all parts of the court when:
- defending and
- in neutral situations
Developing rally skills
Learning to control a ball in dynamic situations takes time. To help the children to develop the sensation of sending the ball to the opponent and then receiving it, we break the rally into different stages starting at white and progressing to more advanced rally skills on the green court at U10 tennis.
We challenge the children to develop rally skills on both the forehand and backhand side, in set sequences and in random sequences just like in a tennis match.
The 4 rally stages
Developing the ability to rally with another child takes time and skill. We recognise that the ability to rally must be done in simple and progressive stages according to the ability of the child.
|FH only||BH only||FH BH alternate||Mixed|
|Throw to throw
|Throw to hit
|Hit to hit
The 4 controls
When children learn to rally, there are many things which can go wrong. Ultimately we want players to be able to attack and defend, and to be in control of the point when possible, but this takes time. To achieve this aim, the children need the technical ability to master control of the ball and the racket. The ability to do this depends on the ability of the chid to move, to be in position in relation to the ball, to be balanced and to coordinate effectively to move and hit the ball. For these reasons we place high importance on the ability to control the body.
Every time a player hits the ball in a rally (with the exception of the serve), the same 3 stage process occurs. This requires the ability to move and balance, then prepare the racket to hit the ball before recovering or repositioning after the stroke. We believe that these technical abilities are an integral part of the U10 programme.
In U10 tennis training
we want children to be…
- developing friendships and social skills, as well as important sporting values such as respect for the game, the rules and the opponent, dealing with winning and losing, and understanding effort, application and concentration.
- performing exercises in every lesson to help develop physical literacy, including movement, balance and coordination. This may be done using different types of equipment, and not always with the racket in hand
- performing activities in every lesson to help your child to develop the technical and tactical essentials of the game
- rallying and playing with other children and with the coach, so that they learn to cooperate and compete with others in the group
- actively involved and never waiting in lines to play.
we expect the coach…
- to use of slower red, orange or green balls, smaller courts and smaller rackets following the guidelines set out by the ITF and supported by the Finnish Tennis Federation
- to be following annual training plans for each group which define the key skills to be developed in each term. Each annual plan provides the coach with a clear objective and plan for each lesson. The coach will follow the lesson plan from their phone on the CoachTools app
- to start each lesson on time, is planned and prepared for each lesson and organises the lesson in a structured and efficient way
- to be animated and enthusiastic, effectively organising the children to play and creating a fun and friendly environment.
To see a more detailed list of what we expect from our coaches, go to hvstennis.fi/u10-ohjaajaopas/
In U10 tennis competitions
we will have…
- The same scoring formats as those used by the Finnish Tennis Federation in 10 and under competition around Finland
- Competition formats which are suited to the age and experience of the children. The first competitive games will start at the white stage, and the competitive matchplay will start at the red level
- Different multi-match formats which allow all children to play lots of matches in one competition. Team formats will often be used especially for the younger ages. There will be no knock-out competition until the orange or green stage
- Suitable short scoring method being used, and not always traditional tennis scoring
- Organisers who adapt the rules for players of different abilities to ensure success.
- Scorers or court supervisors present to help the children with scoring, when necessary.
Information about 10 and under competition organised by the Finnish Tennis Federation can be found at tennis.fi/kilpailut/pelaajille/lasten-kilpailujarjestelma/
Typical training content for U10 tennis
At HVS, each level of the programme of training is clearly defined and planned, and includes:
- A clear and specific game situation for each lesson
- A clear and specific tactical goal for each lesson
- Clear and specific technical teaching points in each lesson
- A strong emphasis on developing rally skills where children rally with each other or the coach. The coach may occasionally use basket feeding and basket drills for specific technical work at this level
- Tactics, physical and mental training are equally important as technical training. Playing tennis is not just about learning strokes
All coaches have a specific lesson plan for every lesson, which they will access on their phones from the CoachTools app
Specifically, the U10 tennis programme at HVS includes….
- In J0-J2 stage lessons involving a variety of different balls and equipment so that children can learn in a play-based environment. All J3-J4 lessons are performed with a sponge or felt balls using red nets. Orange and green (J5-J7) lessons will be with appropriate balls, court sizes and net heights
- Standard court sizes for each level, but these may be adjusted according to the activity and ability of the players. The width of the court can be decided by the coach according to the task and the ability of the player
- Three phases in every stroke; movement to the ball (except the serve), hitting the ball, and recovery or repositioning after the shot. We ensure that these three phases are trained together as often as possible
- Players who can rally with another player in the group, and players spending a lot of time rallying or playing with each other. There are some occasions when basket feeding and rallying with the coach could also be used
- Quality more than speed: themes and skills will be developed in line with the development of the players. The plans include a lot of repetition of themes, but will involve different activities each week
- Competition and competitive games in each lesson, and specific competition weeks which can involve competitive games as well as matchplay at all ages and levels
Progressing from white to red, orange and green
Developing all the skills needed to play tennis well takes time. Whilst using slower balls and smaller courts makes tennis is quite an easy game to play at a young age, playing tennis well is not so easy. Our 4 stages from white to green ensure that we give players the opportunities they need to learn in a progressive way.
“I think when you’re not tall and not strong, it’s great to have soft balls and small rackets…it’s the way I learned how to play tennis” –Justine Henin
It is important that players only progress to the next stage when they are able to rally with consistent and correct technique and implement simple tactics effectively at their current level of U10 tennis. If they move up too soon they may develop poor technique and lose confidence and interest. The system of white, red, orange and green is not about trying to reach yellow ball tennis as quickly as possible!
The importance of parents…
Learning to play the game of tennis is a gradual process and as children progress through the 4 stages of U10 tennis, we hope that you will encourage your child to become more independent, and to take more responsibility for their tennis. Although it isn’t easy, we would encourage you to try to focus on how your child is developing as an athlete and as a tennis player.
At U10 tennis, performance, effort, improvement and continuous enjoyment of the sport are more important than their results in matches
At U10 tennis, we believe performance, effort, improvement and continuous enjoyment of the sport are more important than their results in matches.
The role of parents is more important at U10 tennis than at any other stage of tennis because children are very influenced by the behaviour of their parents at this age.
Engaging, retaining and developing players is essential to the success of any sport and healthy child-friendly programmes is key to making this happen. Creating a fun and positive learning environment for children to be introduced to tennis and competition at a level suitable for their age and understanding is vital. We ask you to assist in creating a positive playing environment for your children by providing the right support and encouragement and a balance between tennis and other sports, and between sport and other aspects of family life.
Tips for parents
The following tips have been provided for you to help you to know what you can do to support your child through their tennis pathway. Our coaches are asked to support you in this vital role.
- Allow your child to play in the appropriate stage of Mini Tennis so that they can gain confidence and better enjoy playing the game. Your coach will be able to recommend which level is best for your child, based on your child’s experience, ability and age
- It is best not to watch every lesson and every match that your child plays as this can place pressure to them. However, taking an active and positive interest in your child’s tennis is healthy
- Stick to your role as the parent and do not try to become the coach, or to contradict the coach away from lessons. If you are interested, find out what the coach is teaching your child, and support the coach
- Playing matches is an important part of a player’s development and your child should be encouraged by you to compete as well as have lessons.
- Be aware of your child’s capabilities and avoid comparing them with other players and their development. Each child is different, developing and learning in different ways and at different speeds
- Be aware that at this age results are not so important. The most important aspect is that they like playing tennis and that they play lots of matches. Your coach should be able to recommend how many singles and doubles matches are appropriate to play each year
- Encourage good behaviour in lessons and matches, and respect for other children, coaches, other parents and officials. Parents should also be role models, and must display similar values to those expected of the children
- Try to understand what your child is feeling about their tennis. Many children do not handle disappointment, perceived unfairness and losing well. Do not tolerate bad behaviour, cheating or bad manners at any time
- Encourage your child to learn independence. Avoid making them depend too much on you and avoid doing too much for them. Help them to learn how to prepare themselves and their equipment for lessons and for competition
- Focus on effort instead of results. Never ask “Did you win? Instead it is better to ask “How did you play?” or “Did you have fun?” Make them realise you are more interested in them than the result. Your behaviour towards your child should be unconditional, and never based on your child’s results
- Help your child to understand that showing respect for the rules, opponents, and officials is all part of tennis. Parents must also display the same values of respect
- If you want to clap, do so for both players, or don’t clap at all!
- Your child’s coach has the expertise and they should be respected and appreciated by you. It is OK to talk to your coach, to understand how your child is progressing and to learn from their advice, but show respect for their position as the coach
Information about the whole U10 tennis programme at HVS can be found at hvstennis.fi/tennisvalmennus/u10/