Helping your child learn tennis
Although long considered a bastion of the rich, tennis is actually a fairly affordable sport, and it can be fun for children and adults alike. While a private tennis court may be out of your price range, most municipalities have at least one public court that can be accessed either for free or for a nominal fee. Tennis lessons, too, have become more affordable as the sport has left the country clubs for the local parks. Finding the right tennis lessons for kids is simply a matter of balancing needs with budget and doing a little research.
Group Tennis Lessons for Children
The cheapest type of kids' tennis lessons are group lessons, which can be small group lessons (usually around 5 to 10 per class) or fully structured recreational programs (which may have as many as 30 participants -- or even more -- at one time).
The major advantage to group lessons is their affordability (usually under $10 per lesson or hour, sometimes even under $5). They also allow kids to learn tennis with others at their level, so there is less pressure and more socializing, making the lessons more fun. Finally, many programs or group instructors have racquets to lend or rent, so kids can get a feel for the game before parents spend a lot of money on equipment.
Of course, the trade-off is that no child gets individual attention. Smaller groups may allow for some one-on-one time with the instructor, but for the most part, participants will be addressed as a group and will do most of their learning through games and activities with other kids in the group.
Private Tennis Lessons for Kids
If you're willing to spend more money, private tennis lessons provide a child with completely individualized attention, so they learn far more quickly. These types of lessons may be less fun, since there are no other children with whom to play and the lessons consist more of drills than games or skill-building activities. Children will generally need to have their own racquet, and you can expect to spend at least $20 and as much as $100 or more per lesson or hour.
The main advantage of private lessons is quick development -- kids learn rapidly because all of their time in class is spent doing drills and practicing techniques (as opposed to group lessons, where they can end up standing around while instructors give instructions or deal with other students). Plus, with full attention from a pro, students don't have the opportunity to develop bad habits that need correcting later.
A Stepping-Stone Approach
While it is entirely up to you and your child how to proceed with tennis lessons, many parents find it beneficial to begin with a group lesson or program to ensure their child actually likes the sport before they commit the time and money to private lessons and personal equipment.