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What is the Best Age to Start Tennis?

Posted by Jordan Snider on Jul 13, 2023 12:07:25 PM

Did you know that tennis is one of the most athletic sports out there? 

Tennis is incredibly rewarding—it provides excellent opportunities for exercise and friendly competition. And most importantly: It’s fun!

Many parents think their kids would enjoy tennis, but are left wondering: 

What is the best age to start tennis?

In identifying the best age for your child, let’s start by looking at why tennis is beneficial for younger children.

Benefits of Tennis For Young Kids

So, what makes tennis such an appealing sport for kids?

Here are three of our favorite reasons.

1. It improves hand-eye coordination

One of the most important skills your child will learn in tennis is hand-eye coordination.

When we do activities that require a high level of hand-eye coordination, it helps us improve in other areas of our lives, too. As we get older, it’s used in nearly all of our everyday tasks, such as cleaning, cooking, and writing. 

One study even suggests a correlation between improved hand-eye coordination and superior reading and math skills.

2. It teaches mental toughness

Like any sport, tennis can be challenging—but that isn’t a bad thing!

boy holding racquet smiling

Starting the game of tennis introduces kids to the challenge of learning something new. At the same time, it teaches them mental toughness to rise to the occasion with tenacity and perseverance. 

It helps with different motor skills

Tennis helps young children with several different motor skills, including:

  • Agility
  • Coordination
  • Reaction time
  • Reflexes
  • Strengthening muscles

Whether your child decides they love tennis or a different sport altogether, these are all beneficial. 

What is the Best Age to Start Tennis?

For many the best age for kids to start tennis is age 5 or 6.  However, the best age to start can vary by child and what’s right for your family.

And if your child is over that age, don’t fear–it’s not too late to start! Tennis can be learned and enjoyed by children of all ages. As you’ll see later in this article, some of the greatest pros alive started after age 6. 

Can kids start playing tennis too early?

While 3 or 4 may be a bit young for formal tennis lessons, you can start to introduce them to elements of the game. 

At this age, you could start getting your child familiar with the equipment. For example, why not have some fun throwing around a tennis ball?  

What is Tennis Burnout?

Tennis burnout refers to a point where children are no longer eager or excited to play tennis.

While tennis burnout does exist, rest assured—starting tennis at an early age doesn’t mean your child will experience it!

In fact, tennis burnout is completely preventable and avoidable. 

How to avoid tennis burnout 

Even if your child is in love with the game, the key is not letting tennis take over, especially at early ages. It’s all about finding balance—you could even suggest your child play other sports. 

Tennis can be great for making new friends, but it’s a good idea to encourage a social life outside of tennis, too. 

Lastly, remind them that taking breaks is okay—and encouraged! If they’re feeling burnt out, it’s best to take a break from the game and enjoy a different sport or activity, such as art or music. 

Preventing junior tennis injuries 

As is the case with any sport, injuries are always a possibility. Most of the time, these injuries come from burnout or overuse. When a child plays tennis regularly, be sure to monitor any shoulder, elbow, ankle, or knee pain. 

Here are some tips for preventing tennis injuries when your child learns the sport:

  • Wear the proper footwear
  • Warm up before playing
  • Cool down after playing
  • Take breaks and don’t overexert yourself!

The best way to avoid these injuries is to listen to the body. 

Is it Ever Too Late to Start Tennis?

We’ve talked about what ages are considered too young for tennis. 

So, what about the older kids?

Some parents ask if it’s ever too late for older kids, say, 13-16 years old, to start playing tennis.

boy ready position

The answer is simple: Of course it’s not too late!

There’s nothing stopping older kids, teens, and even adults from learning tennis. 

Lots of kids (and grown-ups!) start the game later in life. 

When doing so, starting with the fundamentals, including grip, stance, and stroke, is still important.  If your child wants extra support in perfecting these fundamentals, many tennis coaches offer private lessons. 

With hard work, your child can still become a good player in their age group.

Tips For Getting Started

Is your child ready to get started in tennis? If so, here are a few tips to get them set for success:

Get the right equipment

While tennis doesn’t require that much equipment, it’s no surprise your child will need a racket. 

When choosing a racket, size is the most crucial factor. 

Typically, children between 4 and 6 should go with a 21-inch frame if possible. Between 6 and 8, opt for a 23-inch frame. Move up to a 25-inch frame between the ages of 8 and 10. After that, you can move up to an adult-sized racket, which is 27 inches. 

Often overlooked, but also important, is footwear. You’ll want a pair of tennis shoes that fits your child snugly, but not too tight. They should support their ankles without allowing too much free movement. 

You’ll also want to select tennis shoes based on the type of court. For example, clay courts require a specific type of shoe with different soles. 

Attend a tennis camp

No matter their age, tennis camps are a fantastic way to introduce children to tennis. 

Not only do campers get the chance to learn the game and hone their skills with a talented tennis coach, but they also get to meet new lifelong friends who share their love of the game. 

Since tennis camps cover a wide range of skill levels, from beginners to veterans, knowing how to choose the right tennis camp for your child is helpful.

Have fun! 

All sports can cause some frustration at times. Tennis can feel challenging at first, but remember: No one is a pro when they start.

Encourage your child to focus on the fun. Even if they’re having trouble mastering that serve, enjoying the sport of tennis is what matters the most! 

What Age Did the Pros Start Tennis?

Still have doubts kids can start tennis at any age? 

Let’s look at three famous tennis pros: Roger Federer, John Isner, and Serena Williams. They started at very different ages and went on to have brilliant careers.

Roger Federer

He’s arguably the greatest professional tennis player of all time. So, when did he start playing?

At 8 years old.

This may seem young, but the reality is that many of his peers got an early start. When you go on to become one of the all-time greats despite starting later than others, it proves the power of perseverance. 

John Isner

Not to be outdone by Federer, John Isner started even later—at 11 years old, to be exact!

The late start is quite unique by professional tennis standards, but Isner still managed to reach the top of the game with a legendary serve and an unforgettable tennis career.

Serena Williams 

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Serena Williams.

Another one of the most famous tennis players, Serena got her start at a young age—she began playing tennis at 3 years old.

While tennis lessons at age 3 may be a bit early for formal tennis, starting as early as 5 or 6 is completely okay! 

Is Your Child Ready for Tennis Camp?

From elementary school to teens, a tennis camp is one of the best ways to introduce your child to the sport of tennis.

If you’re looking for a tennis camp in the Manhattan area, the brand new Camp Comparison Checklist lets you easily compare and contrast summer tennis camp costs, activities, dates, and locations—all in one convenient location. 

Access the Camp Comparison Checklist today and find a tennis camp your child will love!

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