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Finding the Right Lessons for Kids

Tennis instruction comes in four basic types:Recreational programs, group lessons, semi-private lessons, and private lessons. Each has its strengths, weaknesses, and suitabilities to different types of kids:

Recreational programs include Ace Tennis and Holiday tennis camps and can expose a lot of kids to tennis. Ace Tennis is run in schools and is designed to improve kid's coordination and skills. Tennis Camps are run during the school holidays. The head instructors are professional instructors and are supported by staff who have playing experience and are qualified to teach basic skills. The number of kids per court can range from two (rare) to twelve.


  • Very low cost per student
  • Lots of companions.
  • Very informal, very little pressure.
  • Better programs emphasize fun, using a lot of big group games.
  • Little or no commitment.


  • Very little instructor time per student.
  • Very little hitting time per hour.
  • Too much waiting for a turn can make tennis seem boring.
  • Lack of individual attention can leave some students behind.

Best For::

  • Players completely new to the game.
  • Kids taking other lessons who want an additional chance to play.
  • Families who can't afford more expensive instruction.


Group lessons are probably the most common format in which kids learn tennis. The structure of group lessons ranges from groups of three or four taught by an experienced pro to groups as large as ten taught by a local high-school player. The amount of hitting time and instruction is inversely proportional to the group size, so smaller is almost always better. Generally speaking, kids will learn faster and more soundly with an experienced and credentialed pro, but younger kids sometimes feel that a high-school age instructor is more fun. In general, kids learn gradually and have a lot of fun in group lessons.


  • Fairly low cost.
  • Comfortable number of companions.
  • Smaller groups (3-4) offer some individualized attention.
  • A well organized group will keep all of the kids active most of the time.
  • Singles and doubles instruction can be part of the lesson.
  • Low pressure, group games are often lively and very enjoyable.


  • Instructor time and attention per student decreases with group size.
  • Drills that are best for one group member may not emphasize the most urgent needs of another.
  • The intensive focus needed to correct one student's major stroke problem can be hard to attain.
  • One-on-one hitting with the instructor is very limited.

Best for:

  • Kids who feel most comfortable with a few friends around.
  • Players who are looking more to have fun and learn gradually than to improve as fast as possible.
  • Players who are not heavily involved in tournaments or team competition.
  • Families who can't afford more expensive instruction.

Semi-private lessons are taught by an experienced pro. This format works best if the two players sharing the lesson are close enough in skills to be able to compete with one another. Semi-private lessons offer an effective mixture of peer companionship and individualized instruction.


  • Cost is shared between two players.
  • Kids have a peer for company.
  • Lots of individual attention.
  • Almost constant activity for both players.
  • Competing with the lesson partner facilitates intensive singles instruction.


  • Somewhat expensive.
  • The intensive, uninterrupted work needed to fix a stubborn stroking problem can be hard to attain.
  • Some younger kids feel more comfortable with more kids around.
  • If one kid learns much faster than the other, the other can become frustrated.
  • Limited full-court one-on-one hitting with the pro.

Best for:

  • Kids who want to learn quickly, but feel more comfortable with a friend around.
  • Players who should compete against a peer and are not advanced enough to practice competing against the pro.
  • Players who are getting involved in team and tournament competition.
  • Families who cannot afford private lessons.

Private lessons are taught by an experienced pro. This format usually produces the quickest improvement in the student's game, and because of the powerful influence of the pro's advice, it's particularly important that that advice be sound.


  • Completely individualized attention.
  • The most rapid improvement.
  • By far the best format in which to "fix" a stroke.
  • Full activity for the entire lesson.
  • Unlimited full-court hitting time with the pro.
  • For advanced players, a great opportunity to compete with the pro.


  • Relatively expensive.
  • Some kids are uncomfortable without a peer present.
  • No one handy for practice at competing with a peer.
  • Fewer "fun" games available.

Best for:

  • Kids whose primary objective is improving as fast as possible.
  • Players who need to learn or fix a specific stroke.
  • Advanced players.
  • Kids who are heavily involved in team or tournament competition.

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