There are many different ways to hold a tennis racquet – often it depends on shot selection and style of play. When you’re introducing your child to the sport you need to keep it simple: palms up and palms down.
- Palms Up – fingers face the sky
- Palms Down – knuckles face the sky
These two grips will help to familiarize kids with using both sides of their racquet. Be prepared for some backlash later on when they find out you tricked them into learning their forehand (palms up) and backhand (palms down) strokes and they were playing “real tennis” all along.
Frying Pan Exercise
Bumble Bee Tennis, has a fantastic video demonstrating the frying pan exercise. If a picture is worth a thousand words a video must be worth, what, at least ten-thousand? Take a couple of minutes to watch and then come on back.
Welcome back! In the video the instructor had the children using two hands. I recommend your child does the same until they are strong enough to hold their racquet with one hand. Once they develop more upper-body strength, you can have them do frying pan exercise using the palms up and palms down grips.
Once your child has mastered the ability to balance a ball on their strings you can start working on a rally progression. This starts with learning to self-rally and progresses to rallying with a partner over the net. The USTA demonstrates this progression wonderfully in the following video. The tennis balls and net used in the video are part of Progressive Tennis – for more details on what this is and why it’s important, check out my previous post Progressive Tennis: Setting Your Child Up for Success.
A key point I want to emphasize when working through this progression is always encourage your child to swing from low-to-high and hit the tennis ball up – no matter what grip they are using.