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How to Teach Kids to Play Tennis

Explaining Tennis to Children

When teaching the basic rules of tennis to children, be sure they understand that the goal is to gain points by hitting the ball so that the opponent can't hit it back over the net and keep it inbounds.

Next, teach the rules for serving. Make sure the children know that when it is their turn to serve they will stand in the service area at the back of the court and aim diagonally across the net. A game always starts with a serve from the behind a player's baseline on the right-hand side of the court, and the serve must go over the net (without touching it) and land inbounds for it to count. After a point is scored, players move to the left, or advantage, side of the court for their next serve [source: Sports Know How]. Players continue this pattern of alternating serves from the right and then left sides throughout the game

When it's time to explain scoring, start with the basics: To score in tennis, the ball must touch the ground inside the boundary lines on your opponent's side of the court. The opponent can hit the ball back before it hits the ground or after it bounces once, but if he or she misses or if the ball bounces more than once, you score. If the ball is returned before it hits the ground, it is called a volley; if it's returned after it bounces once, it is called a ground stroke. No matter which player served, the person who last hit the ball inbounds will get the score [source: USTA Magazine].

The score-tallying system might seem confusing at first, but children just need to know that the first player to score at least four times wins the game. However, the winner must win by at least two scores, which means even if both players score four times, the game won't end until one person has earned two more scores than his opponent. So, the number of scores is what really counts, but it's important to note that each score is not worth the same number of points. A player earns 15 points for the first score, 30 for the second and 40 after the third. The fourth and final score is not assigned a number but merely referred to as "game" [source: USTA Magazine].

Children can play singles against one opponent or doubles with a partner against two opponents. The boundaries of doubles tennis are slightly larger than those of singles tennis, so be sure children know which lines on the court are considered in and which are out.

Once children understand how tennis works, you can begin teaching them fundamental skills. Read on for drills to help them improve their forehand, backhand and more.