How to get into Tennis
When Wimbledon arrives each summer, tennis captivates the nation for two weeks. But that’s not the full story – Brits of all ages are switched on all year round, with nearly a million swishing their rackets once a month. It’s not hard to see why. It’s fun, accessible across a vast range of fitness levels and abilities, and not as elitist as some might believe.
The Lawn Tennis Association is a great place to start for any information on playing tennis in Britain, or browse the Ulster Tennis,Tennis Scotland,Tennis Wales or Tennis England sites for specific news in your area.
Casual and competitive tennis
If you’ve never had the joy of pretending to get seriously angry about whether the ball is in or out, a la John McEnroe, there are more than 500 venues across the UK where you can try tennis for free. Explore the Lawn Tennis Association’s Allplay scheme for guidance on places to play and, should you catch the bug, people to play against and coaches to train you. For those starting out, a good quality second-hand racket can be bought for reasonably low cost. They are also available for hire, as are balls. Don’t forget! The British weather can be notoriously unkind, but there are many options to play indoors: this is how the tennis season keeps going right throughout the year.
Competition is totally redundant in cardio tennis – it’s all about the camaraderie to be found in exercising while having a good time, and bringing a big smile to your face. The main aim of these light-hearted, sociable group fitness classes is to get your heart pumping and your wellbeing soaring. You may have a racket in your hand, but you’ll all be on the same side of the net, cheering each other on as the calories burn away.
Tennis for women and girls
Tennis Tuesdays is a great way for women to get back on court and progress their tennis skills game forward with like-minded people. The sessions offer fun and informal sessions focussing on a different skill each week with a mixture of fun match play and relaxed coaching. For girls aged 5 to 8-years-old,Miss Hits is the way to go. The initiative was designed by Judy Marry and focuses on fun, friendship and enjoyment. It even has it’s own animated characters who take the girls through the basic elements of tennis.
Mini tennis for juniors
The adult world of tennis must be daunting if you can hardly see over the net! For kids, mini tennis is the answer. Children between three and 10 years old can now get stuck in with the aid of smaller courts, smaller nets, smaller rackets and lower bouncing balls. Everybody in this age range is catered for – there are four ‘stages’ of LTA Mini Tennis: Tots, Red, Orange and Green, each with their own court size and type of ball. This tailored approach enables players to develop vital skills and techniques at an early age.
An impressive range of adaptations are on offer for disabled people to play tennis, which can help build social skills, self-esteem and independence, as well as boosting fitness and coordination. Wheelchair tennis integrates easily with the non-disabled game since it can be played on any regular tennis court, with no modifications to rackets or balls. The Tennis Foundation is the place to start: they cater for and champion wheelchair tennis, and also offer subsidised camps featuring learning disability, deaf, and visually-impaired tennis.
Touchtennis is easy to pick up but virtually impossible to put down. It is the closest thing to 5 a-side for tennis, played on a smaller court, with 21″ rackets, foam balls and can be played on any flat space, indoors or outside. The ball is specifically designed along with the Touchtennis rules, creating a level playing field and allowing players to play on their terms. Touchtennis is intended for 16+ though its versatility means everyone can have a go. Players use carefully placed serves, volleys and delicate touches to catch out their opponent. There is a Touchtennis tour, where players play for rankings and prize money and this has grown from 8 players in 2007, to 10,000. The game is also now played recreationally in 21 countries. Click here for more information onTouchtennis.
For anyone who wants to get social and a little competitive, the LTA have a regular Team Tennis league for all ages (starting from an 8 and under category). Matches are played against similar standard players in a competitive team environment. It is the Lawn Tennis Association’s largest recreational competition with a record 5,900+ teams taking part in 2015. Find out how to get involved.
Coaching and volunteering
Coaches and volunteers are vital for every sport, and tennis is is no real difference. Coaches are particularly important in taking tennis into more deprived areas. You can coach tennis sessions yourself by taking a a simple half-day workshop where you can learn basic organisation and delivery skills.Email for more details. You can also try Sports Coach UK for coaching opportunities.
Volunteers provide a huge contribution to British tennis every single day, and there are a wealth of opportunities cultivated by the LTA. Find out about volunteering opportunities in Scotland,Wales,England and Northern Ireland.Join In UK can also help you find a club that needs your hands on attention.