HOW TO HAND FEED
-By Coach Nik Bardossas
Feeding tennis balls to your child is one of the best ways to get your child to hit balls in a way that allows them to work on their form. It is also the hardest thing to do when your child is under the age of 7 when movement and their size limit the “strike zone” they can hit the ball in. As they get older the challenge the challenge change to how far you can feed the ball so they can work on tracking it. Regardless of your child’s age, this blog is designed to give you an idea of the proper ways to hand feed tennis balls to your child.
Know The Trajectory!
There’s a progression of how to feed and it always starts with hand tosses. This involves you being on the same side of the tennis court as your child so that you’re close to them. Keep your tossing arm straight and try and keep yourself low and close to the ground. When you toss the ball by staying low, you are able to make sure that the ball stays low as well, making it easier for your child to make contact with it. A high arching ball is very difficult for a beginner to hit.
Know Your Angle!
Where you stand in relation to your child is also critical because feeding a ball at them from an angle creates some challenges for a chance at clean contact. If you’re facing directly at them--even though it’s scary to get hit by a ball, they’ll be able to track the ball much easier rather than seeing the ball come towards them at an angle or away from them at an angle. Yes those types of shots are critical to be able to hit in tennis since it is a game of angles but keep your child engaged and motivated this way by giving him or her the best chance with a ball that’s in their strike zone, and that’s coming straight to them.
Know Your Distance!
Another important thing to take into account is how far away you are from your child. Obviously the closer you are, the more accurate you can be, but your child will also be missing out on valuable ball tracking skills. The progression starts with those hand feeds close to them and then try and keep backing up for as far as you can go without losing too much accuracy. Progressively move further back as they are able to track the ball easier through this routine. This is where you might have to take a racquet out and try hitting some to them.
Place out big windows of targets and try and keep goals for your kids that are easy for them to attain. If I’m working with a kid that is brand new, I find making contact with the ball is a huge success and try and get 10 solid hits not even caring where the ball goes. If your child is already pretty consistent then encourage them to aim for halves of the court or put out windows for them to hit through, or even specific targets to aim for. Keeping track of points and setting up little games for you and your kid is a great way to keep the both of you engaged and having fun!
Check out this week’s video to add intensity to your feeds!