For decades, children were handed a full-sized racket and placed across the net with a coach and fed yellow ball after yellow ball, but the sport of tennis has adapted for kids. The implementation of different balls, court sizes, and smaller rackets has proven to introduce the sport to younger and younger children. This new approach has also shown that children learn the game of tennis quicker and stay in the sport longer.
There are four different tennis phases for kids: Blue, Red, Orange, and Green. At the moment, our academy offers training specifically for Orange and Green ball. Below, you will find a short description of each phase.
The Blue phase is for children 4 to 6 years old. The exercises and games played are tailored to develop ball and racket skills, hand-eye coordination, and footwork. Clinics and lessons at this stage typically last 45 minutes.
The Red phase is for children up to age 8. This phase uses a low-compression red ball that is larger than a standard yellow ball; this ball bounces lower and slower to create quick success when children are learning to strike the ball. The focus of this phase is to begin learning the basic strokes, tennis-specific movements and introducing match play.
The Orange phase is for children 8 to 10 years old. The court size is now three-quarters the size of a full court, and the orange ball is introduced. This ball is now the same size as a standard yellow ball and has more compression than a red ball. Technique is the focus of this stage and will help in transitioning to full-court play.
The Green phase is for children 10 to 12 years old. The entire court is used during this phase, as is the green ball. This ball is standard size and has slightly less compression than a yellow ball. Stroke technique is further developed, as are essential athletic skills.
Tournament play and Rackets
Children can begin playing tournaments during all phases except blue. Red and Orange tournaments typically last half to a full day with shorter games and sets played. Green tournaments are where children will experience typical match play (e.g., best of three sets and tie breaks).
The last thing that needs to be mentioned is racket sizes. Long gone are the days you’ll see a small child on the court with an adult racket. Kid rackets range between 19 inches (up to 48.26 cm) to 26 inches (66.04 cm) inches. For comparison, a standard adult racket measures 27 inches (68.89 centimeters) in length. Typically, rackets come with information on age ranges and height recommendations to help determine which size is best for your child.
Even with all of the new implementations, tennis for kids is still a challenging sport that develops all aspects of athleticism. With the adaptability of the different phases, the sport now provides earlier successes and higher engagement than ever before.