I went to play tennis with my 3-yr old daughter this morning. The experience went against all of my “mature” adult sensibilities. The following is a recounting of many of the events that took place during our 45-minute “practice” session:
- My daughter threw me balls which I was to hit over the net and she was to pick up
- My daughter stood with her back against the net, stuck her hands out, and asked to have the balls tossed to her (she caught about 25% of them…)
- My daughter stood with her back against the net, holding the racket with two hands cocked and ready. Once the tossed ball arrived, she waited for it to stop bouncing and then hit it with her racket.
- Some time was spent kicking the ball as if we were playing soccer.
- Some time was spent watching the matches on the court next to us.
- The session ended with an elaborate game where balls were rolled by her, she got up, ran a little loop, caught up to the balls, and kicked them out a hole in the door. This was followed by her opening the gate and going to retrieve the ball. Repeat over and over again.
I made sure she had the developmentally appropriate racket (w/ Dora on it) and tennis balls (yellow and red 36″), yet don’t think I played any game that resembled tennis in my reality. My wife hopes my daughter will be an un-athletic, bookworm… because I’m a sport scientist and think I know something. She fears (perhaps rightfully so) that my “expertise” in player development will make me far more foolish that the average sports parent… who himself can be quite ridiculous.
She might be right. I’m not a fan of the two-handed forehand that I saw today. I really wish we could have hit the balls over the net rather than at it. A tennis racket should not be used like a hockey stick (we’ll work on puck next winter). Yes, the World Cup is all the rage right now, but kicking a tennis ball… come on, you cannot be serious! Lastly, is it too much to ask for us to keep the ball inside of the court’s fence?
I am not quite sure how, but in spite of my “adult sensibilities” I kept my mouth shut and played the games of a 3 year old. She ran a lot, laughed a ton, showed creativity that surpasses mine, and wants to go back for more tomorrow. Maybe her rules were the right one’s to play by.
I’ll ponder this… her follow-through did look great…