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Exercise For Kids: "10 And Under Tennis"

Author: Stan Reents, PharmD
Original Posting: 06/04/2008 06:30 AM
Last Revision: 10/23/2016 11:29 AM

On February 29, 2008, at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios, the USTA announced the official launch of an innovative new play format intended to help get more children interested in tennis.  Originally called "QuickStart Tennis", and since renamed to "10 And Under Tennis," the format is one of the most significant moves ever to introduce tennis to youth. It provides a way to bring more kids into the game by utilizing equipment, court dimensions, and scoring that is tailored to their age and size.

Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova and two-time US Olympic gold medalist Mary Joe Fernandez were on hand to help demonstrate the advantages of the 10 And Under Tennis play format.  They were able to show the frustration and difficulties that children experience while trying to play tennis on a regulation court.  Navratilova and Fernandez used “giant-sized” racquets and balls and played on an oversized court – 50’ x 110’ (as opposed to 36’ x 78’ for a regulation court).

The 10 And Under Tennis play format is designed to help children from the very first swing.  10 And Under Tennis appropriately scales down all aspects of regulation tennis—including equipment, court dimensions, and scoring—so that the game becomes specifically tailored to their age and size.  The format is broken out into two age groups, one for children ages 10-under and another for those who are 8-under, similar to models used successfully in other youth sports (such as youth baseball).

The play format addresses one of the most intimidating scenarios for young children learning to play tennis; playing on adult-sized courts with the same unwieldy equipment that their parents use, as well as using the same complicated scoring system.  This combination can cause children to lose interest without ever really playing and experiencing the game, not to mention actually learning the skills necessary to succeed.

“The 10 And Under Tennis play format is tennis scaled down, utilizing age appropriate equipment, including smaller racquets, lower bouncing balls, and smaller courts,” said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “By enabling kids to start playing right away, we are allowing them to learn as they play.”

“This format will make a significant impact on the skill development of tennis players in the United States,” said Paul Roetert, Managing Director, Player Development, USTA. “By bringing more kids into the game at a young age, and by providing them with a format that helps them to utilize proper stroke technique and overall skill development, we will increase the pool of high level players throughout the country.”

The entire game of tennis will be adjusted for young kids. For children 8 yrs and under, the specifics are:

• Court dimensions: Children eight and under will play on a 36’ x 18’ court, with the length of the 10 And Under court equaling the width of a regulation tennis court. The set-up utilizes doubles sidelines as the baselines and from the baseline to the service line as the new sidelines.

• Net height: The net height will be 2’ 9” (three inches lower than regulation), making it easier for the child to continue the rally.

• Racquet size: Racquets will be up to 23” in length (most tennis racquets are 27" in length).

• Special balls: A foam ball (about the size of a softball) will be used. These match the abilities of the child, bouncing lower and traveling less distance. With the ball bouncing into their “comfort zone," this will enable the child to have proper swing technique.

• Special scoring: Scoring is simplified – best of three games, with the first player to win seven points winning the game – creating a much shorter match time for still-developing attention spans.

For children 10 and under:

• Court dimensions: The size of the court will be 60’ x 21’ (60’ x 27’ for doubles), with the length of the court extending just beyond the ends of each service area.

• Racquet size: The racquet will be up to 25” in length—still manageable, but still shorter than a regulation racquet.

• Low-compression balls: The low-compression ball travels a little faster and farther than the larger foam ball utilized by the 8 and under group, but will still have a lower bounce than the standard tennis ball.

• Special scoring: Scoring becomes best of three sets, with 4 games winning a set, and the third set being first to 7 points (if necessary).

The 10 And Under Tennis play format was rolled-out during spring 2008 in over 1,000 facilities across the country, which are each expected to incorporate it into their existing 10 and under programming.  The USTA will also organize and implement training sessions, both to coaches and volunteers including parents, to help early adoption of the format.  In addition, the USTA has begun incorporating the play format into its coed recreational tennis league, USTA Jr. Team Tennis, and its tournament offerings. In succeeding years, it will continue to be implemented into programming with the goal of reaching all aspects of 10 and under youth tennis, including tournament, lesson based, recreational and team play.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

The official web site for 10 And Under Tennis is: www.10AndUnderTennis.com.

The USTA (www.USTA.com) is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the US and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level -- from local communities to the highest level of the professional game.  It owns and operates the US Open, the largest annually attended sporting event in the world, and launched the Olympus US Open Series linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open.  A not-for-profit organization with more than 720,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game.  In addition, it owns the 94 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S., and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games.  For more information, contact:  Seth Sylvan, Director, Communications, Community Tennis, USTA – (914) 696-7088; sylvan@usta.com.

EXPERT HEALTH and FITNESS COACHING

Stan Reents, PharmD, is available to speak on this and many other exercise-related topics. (Here is a downloadable recording of one of his Health Talks.) He also provides a one-on-one Health Coaching Service. Contact him through the Contact Us page.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Stan Reents, PharmD, is a former healthcare professional. He is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and holds current certifications from ACSM (Health & Fitness Specialist), ACE (Health Coach) and has been certified as a tennis coach by USTA. He is the author of Sport and Exercise Pharmacology (published by Human Kinetics) and has written for Runner's World magazine, Training and Conditioning, Club Solutions, and other fitness publications.




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