How to Teach Kids to Play Tennis

Tennis Drills for Children

Sometimes young students who are brand new to tennis need to get acquainted with the game before they even pick up their racquets, so try some drills to help them practice coordination. For example, have four children take the court as though they are about to play a doubles match. One child will throw the ball over the net diagonally, to the part of the court where a serve should land. A child on the other side of the net will either throw or hit the ball back, and the original team must then catch the ball. Once the team has caught the ball three times, they switch places and the other team will throw. This is a great way for kids who need help with coordination or the general concepts of tennis to prepare for further instruction [source: Drills for Tennis].

You may also want to use drills to practice basic skills such as controlling the ball and handling the racquet, which are necessary for decent forehand and backhand shots. Have the student stand on one side of the court while you stand on the other. Gently toss or hit a ball to your student and have him bounce the ball on the racquet once before hitting it back to you. This will help the student's coordination and also give him a feel for how hard the ball needs to be hit [source: Expert Tennis Tips].

Once a serve comes over the net, the player responds with a forehand or backhand shot, which might be difficult at first. To take a forehand shot, the player should face sideways, hold the racquet in his or her dominant hand, and swing it forward at waist level to make contact with the ball. For a backhand shot, a player will turn the opposite direction in order for his or her dominant hand to be closest to the ball. These can be difficult skills to master, especially because players should learn to use the strength of their entire bodies, not just their arms and wrists. To let young players practice their backhand and forehand shots, you might want to try simple drills such as standing across the court and throwing or hitting balls at them over and over so they can learn the stroke through repetition.

With knowledge of forehand and backhand strokes and the rules of the game, your students should soon be ready to play. For further information on teaching kids to play tennis, visit the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • All About Tennis. "Make Your Backhand a Weapon and Not a Weakness." (Accessed 1/6/10).
  • All About Tennis. "Tennis Scoring." (Accessed 1/6/2010).
  • All About Tennis. "The Forehand." (Accessed 1/6/2010).
  • Drills for Tennis. "Three strikes and you're out!" April 22, 2009. (Accessed 1/6/2010).
  • Expert Tennis Tips. "Tennis Drill for Kids." 2007. (Accessed 1/6/2010).
  • Sports Know How. "Basic Rules of Tennis." 2004. (Accessed 1/6/2010).
  • USTA Magazine. "Ten Things All Kids Should Know About Tennis." July 8, 2003. (Accessed 1/6/2010).
  • Whitbourne, Jonathan. "Play Time!" USTA Magazine. May 21, 2009. (Accessed 1/6/2010).