Going Bananas with Tennis!

Last year a guy from Banana Tennis reached out to me, asking if I am interested to learn tennis, in exchange for a review on the lessons. (Yes this is an honest review haha)

Tennis?!!! The last time I played tennis was when I was still teaching.

And boy was I bad in tennis!

The tennis racquet is heavier than a badminton racquet. The tennis court is huge.
The net is far and it’s challenging to get the ball across it! – Assuming I hit it in the first place.

I had THAT much love for tennis.

So I kindly rejected his request and said I can’t afford to invest time in tennis.

But this persistent coach, Joel, reached out again half a year later to offer his coaching services, assuring me that I will master the basic strokes in just 4 sessions.

Ok now I am somewhat impressed, because of his persistence. And I started to get curious …… Is his coaching that awesome that he can guarantee I will master the basic strokes in 4 lessons?

But it was the Dec hols and I said if he could involve the twins during the 4 sessions, I’d be happy to see him in class!

No problem! 6 year old twins are good to go. Mummy is good to go too!

 

So the 3 of us started tennis lessons with Coach Joel at Yio Chu Kang Complex.

As a teacher, I fully understand the challenges of getting anyone started on a new skill. Especially for a sport that has a strong emphasis on technical skill sets, such as tennis! When you cannot even hold your racquet properly, or can’t time your reactions well, you can forget about getting into any game.

As for the kids, Coach Joel and I were on the same page not to expect any concrete outcome for the them after these 4 sessions. I knew perfectly well that these 4 sessions would be a ‘make or break’ for them in their view towards tennis. It was great exposure for them and whether they warm up to racquets or detest racquets after these sessions,

So here, Coach Joel gladly took up the challenge of handling an old bird – with lots of bad muscle movement memories, and a pair of 6 year olds who cannot contain their energy. How to teach the old bird new skills and make sure the little ones don’t end up hating tennis?

That’s us all ready to start our first lesson!

 

Coach Joel explained that each of the 4 sessions will be dedicated to a basic skill.
1. Forearm Swing
2. Backhand Swing
3. Combine
4. Overhead Serve

Nothing out of the ordinary. It’s how most coaches will design their lessons. And it’s how most adults like me would be progressed through the lessons.

What I was most interested in was how he will be engaging the twins during class.

And I must say I was impressed with the stuff this young coach has up his sleeve to keep the kids engaged and looking forward to tennis class every week!

(Oh yes …. They kept asking when they have tennis class!! For kids to do that, I would say the coach/ teacher has met the lesson objective and achieved success.)

Hand Eye Coordination

He started them off with simple hand eye coordination games.

Side note: Hand-eye coordination is a fundamental skill that many children are lacking now. Because most children these days are more attuned with passive eye-screen time. Plus most of us seldom throw things around. So unless we are consciously getting them exposed to throwing and catching stuff (not necessarily balls), our children will not be great in this department.

Every session, they look forward to catching, collecting tennis balls and competing who has more on his/her racquet. Piling tennis balls on racquets was a huge delight for them and their main motivation in sticking to their tasks on hand (to get a higher pile of balls)

 

 

Racquet Hold

At the start, he was just having them using their palms as the ‘racquet face’ instead of holding the actual racquets. That was a great warm up too, to have them understand about the ‘face of the racquet’ and ‘contact point’, without having to fuss about the racquets and hand holding principles.

As they got more comfortable with the speed of the travelling balls and throw angles, they were given racquets – much to their delight! Even then, not much swinging was required of them. Coach Joel only wanted to see them ‘tap’ the balls with the racquet face.

Service – Fundamentals

I loved this bit where he started introducing to them the concept of getting the ball over the net using the overhead throw. Just stand sideways, ball under ear, and throw as far as you can! They love it! And you should see how their faces lit up with accomplishment each time they managed to send the ball over the net (which was probably about 50% of the time, given their petite frames).

 

 

At times when repetitions started to bore them, he switched rules and got them excited over ‘ball-picking’ competition again. When it was my turn to be coached, their jobs were to pick up after me … lol. Something so easy and mundane, but kept the little ones alert and excited! Who knew ball pickers had such fun jobs?!

 

Tennis for Self, Kids or Family

To be honest, I was not expecting the twins to get all excited over tennis. It’s such a technical sport, repetitive by nature and I could really foresee them getting bored and distracted easily.

But to have them keep asking me when they were going to have tennis class everyday, during those 4 weeks, was simply beyond by expectations. For sure, they won’t be asking if they had not enjoyed the class. I know this well, because they were less enthusiastic when they started swimming and climbing classes.

As a teacher and coach myself, I always appreciate and value fellow teachers who can get their students excited about their tasks on hand. That takes great skills, experience, and patience. So if you are considering exposing your little ones to tennis, don’t hesitate to chat with Coach Joel. In fact, like all responsible coaches, he will probably want to first assess your child’s aptitude first. Because if your child is too young, or not ready for a sport like tennis, Coach Joel might discourage you from getting your child started.

You can easily reach him or his team directly here for ideas on having fun with tennis as a family!

 

As for me, how did I fare in tennis class???

Ha!! I’m definitely moving much better than 6 years back! This old dog can still pick up some new skills. But like all sports and new tricks, it takes practice and a good old trick to improve. What’s the old good trick? It’s just good old time. There is no shortcut in anything we want to achieve. If we want to excel in anything, we simply need to just put in the hours and invest time in it. No coach can disagree on this!

But I’m not the biggest challenge here! I think Coach Joel’s bigger challenge were the twins and he managed to turn them into fans!

Thanks for getting the twins go bananas over tennis!