Instilling a love of the game
Originally published on 17/09/16 00:00
Zsig has been the official supplier for Tennis Tots for eight years. The brainchild of tennis coach Matt McTurk, Tennis Tots is an educational tennis programme for children aged two to six held in church halls and community centres.
“Each class lasts 45 minutes and there are around 10 children per class depending on the size of the venue,” explains McTurk, who set up Tennis Tots in 2009 when his daughter Sofia was two. “The programme requires parental participation so a parent has to be there to work with their child.
“There are two stages to Tennis Tots. Stage 1 is for two to four year olds and then Stage 2 is for four to six year olds. There are differences between the two stages because developmentally the children are in different places. For the younger ones we move between activities relatively quickly because you can’t have them sitting still watching something for 10 minutes or doing something too repetitively because they will just get bored. The older ones work in pairs a little bit so they are learning about sharing and working as part of a team.”
While the six-year-olds will graduate from Tennis Tots knowing their forehands from their backhands and being able to hold a rally, for McTurk, Tennis Tots is more about developing confidence, social skills and hand-eye co-ordination.
“It’s a non-competitive programme so we’re not playing points and matches with them were just giving them a really good solid introduction to tennis,” he explains. “We develop their hand-eye co-ordination, confidence, social skills and we’re also building in the educational elements into it too.
“That’s where Zsig come in. It’s fantastic equipment, colourful and child friendly. For example, we use Zsig’s multi-coloured Juggle Squares, which the kids absolutely love. We throw them in the air for them to catch– and we can use them for colour recognition. We also use numbered spots and alphabet spots.”
Other Zsig products that feature in Matt’s programme include a Zsig Mini Net, measuring just 1.8 metres. “If you have only got a small area you can throw in one of those nursery nets to fill a space and you can have a couple of kids working on those,” he says.
“I also love the Easy Catch Net and the Easy Catch Happy Faces are great – you can do lots of different games with them.”
Many of Tennis Tots' earliest participants have gone on to join tennis clubs and still play regularly, and for McTurk that is more important than producing the 2030 Wimbledon champion.
"These kids have gone onto a club they have been able to immediately play and rally and score so there are children who are still playing tennis," he says. "That’s the whole point – it’s about instilling a love of the game."
Click here to find out more about Tennis Tots and head to Zsig.com to check out the full range of Zsig products, including their Early Years kit. For all the latest news from Zsig, follow @zsigsports on Twitter or find them on facebook.