Junior tennis has seen big changes over the last 15 years. The introduction of different balls and court sizes had been a great way to introduce the game to the U-10’s in particular. It allows kids to play the game and have more fun as soon as possible.
These changes have also seen a modified range of equipment and with it a variety of advice from coaches and retailers. Hopefully the following information will help guide you to make informed choices for your young superstars!
About mini tennis:
What it is:
The main purpose is to allow juniors to play a game of tennis within their physical limits and have fun straight away.
What it isn’t:
It is not a grading system. A green ball player isn’t automatically better than an orange ball player. So using equipment that is too big or playing on a large court may be good for a feeling of progression but may be affecting player development.
Player Categories Guidelines
|5-8||Red||17-23” (43-58cm)||75% slower|
|8-10||Orange||23-25” (58-63cm)||50% slower|
|9-10||Green||25-26” (63-66cm)||25% slower|
Ok so what should I get for my child?!
Stick to the appropriate ball colour for your child. If your child has never played before stick to the guidelines.
TennisHub Tip: If you are not sure, it is better to make it easier at first and then step up the challenge!
Tennis Australia produced this great video to visualize the impact of different balls
A good guide is that if the child holds the handle of the racket and holds it to their side, the tip should be roughly touching the ground.
Eventually there is flexibility and coaches and parents can take into account how well they can control the racket head and how strong the child is. Too long or too short will make it harder for them and prevent the learning of correct technique.
There are 3 options of material used in junior rackets:
Graphite is very good for tennis rackets but tends to be pricier. It is strong and light so enables players to produce power with more ease. It is also stable when you hit the ball. As you start hitting the ball harder aluminum rackets will vibrate more. So if your child plays regularly it would be a good idea to get graphite where possible.
Aluminum is generally the most cost effective and is a good choice for newbies especially for red ball players. It can also be a great choice for beginners who know that they know that they will be transitioning to a new size in the near future. You generally tell if it is aluminum as the throat of the racket is separate from the rest of the racket.
Hybrid rackets exist and can be the middle ground. They are especially appropriate for children who are red or orange players. They offer good value and performance.
Intuitively, beginners may prefer larger heads as it increases the chance of hitting the ball. However, for juniors, if the head is too wide for your child then it can twist when the child makes contact.
Still want to know more? See the comprehensive guide from the ITF