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Tennis Sized Right

Imagine a 5-year-old basketball player shooting a 15-foot free throw at a 10-foot hoop, or a 6-year-old goalie trying to defend a full-size soccer goal. How about a tee-ball player trying to make contact using a heavy, wooden bat? Clearly, kids using equipment the same size as the pros’ is an exercise destined for failure.


In tennis, that would be the equivalent of a young child stepping onto a full-sized court and trying to rally with a standard yellow ball. This all-too-common scenario would make for a very intimidating introduction to what could be a sport of a lifetime.


Though junior racquets have been widely available for many years, kid-sized balls and courts are a relatively new innovation, and one that Net Generation hopes to spread awareness of in today’s youth. It is the perfect way for kids to progress through their own tennis journey at their own pace.


For first-time players, the red level provides a large, low-bouncing ball that slowly floats through the air, making it easier to make contact and sustain a rally. Combined with a tiny 36’ by 18’ court and a shorter net, new students of the game can focus on learning the fundamentals so they can begin to maintain a rally.


Next up is orange. Though the same size as regulation balls, orange balls still travel slower and bounce lower. At this level, players begin to play over a regulation net, but on a court 18 feet shorter in length than standard so they can continue to develop their skills and athleticism.


Once they are ready for the challenge, students advance to a full-sized court using green balls, which have a slightly reduced bounce to ease the transition to the 78-foot court. At this point, it won’t be long until the progression to yellow regulation balls, the same as the pros!


Kids can also grow with their racquet as they develop. Racquets come in a variety of sizes, starting at 19 inches and progressing to 21, 23, 25, and 26 inches before finally reaching the full-sized 27-inch racquet for adults. One recommended way to check the correct racquet size for a child is to have them hold the racquet at the bottom of the handle and it and check to make sure it’s not touching the ground.  


Coaches can help to guide their students through this journey, letting them know when they are ready to move on to the next level and helping with the transitions.


By following this path, kids and teens can take their time in learning the athletic, technical and competitive skills that are critical to future success in the sport. The combination of a properly-sized racquet, ball and court will allow the next generation of tennis greats to develop at their own pace in a comfortable environment designed for success the start.


For more information, visit NetGeneration.com/equipment.