The London 2012 Olympics was arguably the most successful sporting event ever held in the UK. The legacy of London 2012 may also turn out to be just as impressive, due to the event itself, and how the success of Britain’s sporting stars will inspire the next generation to achieve similar heights.
In 2012, Britain’s best tennis player, Andy Murray, had a great year. He was the first British male to reach the Wimbledon singles final since before World War II, he demolished Roger Federer to win gold at the Olympics, and then won his first Grand Slam event, when defeating Novak Djokovic at the US Open.
Wimbledon 2013 is fast approaching, and is traditionally a time of the year when youngsters develop an interest in tennis. Tennis courts are never so packed as when it’s Wimbledon fortnight. The problem for British tennis, however, is that the interest in tennis tends to be fleeting for most youngsters. Trying to keep children interested in playing tennis all year round will not only be beneficial to British tennis, but it is a sport that can be beneficial to the youngsters themselves.
Tennis is a sport that doesn’t require a mass of sports equipment, and it can be played indoors or outdoors. Equipment, including a racquet balls, are easy to find at a sports supplies shop. There are also many tennis clubs and tennis schools in the UK, so there are plenty of opportunities for youngsters who are keen to play the game.
The best tennis players don’t rely on ability alone, and determination and application are just as important. As with all sport, playing tennis will also help youngsters deal with the ups and downs of victory and defeat – which is good preparation for the ups and downs of life.
One benefit of tennis games for kids is that it is a fun way of helping a child’s fitness. With recent concerns about youngsters spending too much time indoors, and obesity problems the possible result, tennis is a sport that has positive benefits on all areas of the body. The running and stretching involved helps the legs in particular, and hitting the ball helps strengthen the muscles in the arms. For many children, stroking the ball double-handed will be the most comfortable way of playing and will consequently exercise both arms equally.
Tennis will treat youngsters discipline in the shape of regular practice. This will, in turn, help young tennis players to realise that the benefits of hard work is improvement. Good application also aids determination, and, when a match seems to be slipping away, sheer willpower can make the difference. At top-level sport, mental strength becomes just as important as ability, and with two equally matched opponents the player with the greater determination will often be the one who triumphs.
For a child who has struggled at school, discovering that they have a talent for playing tennis can instil them with confidence, build their self-esteem and affect all areas of their life to a positive degree.
Playing tennis will help improve hand to eye co-ordination too which is vitally important for many sports; tennis therefore opens up opportunities to thrive in other sports as well. Tennis can also teach youngsters team values when playing doubles. These values can include encouraging a team-mate and learning the responsibility of playing for another person as well as oneself. Playing singles, on the other hand, will help a player deal with problems and find resolutions on their own. Because tennis is a sport that can allow a player to play one against one, or be part of a team, a youngster can utilise the positive benefits from both.
For beginners, tennis games for kids should be relaxed. The games can then gradually build in their intensity as the youngsters start displaying signs of progress.
*This piece is written before the start of Wimbledon 2013
About the Author
Sam Johnson is a former school PE teacher who knows the value in helping kids to find a sport that they enjoy playing.