LTA Youth: Instilling confidence on and off the court with launch of new junior programme for tennis
Posted: Thu, 22 Apr 2021 09:05
The LTA - the national governing body for tennis for Great Britain - is paving the way for a new generation to pick up a racket and play.
LTA Youth is a new and innovative junior programme aimed at kids aged 4-18, created to help more children enjoy the benefits of playing and staying in tennis, whatever their age, gender, ability, disability or background. The programme is a significant step change for children's tennis in Britain, providing kids fun, action-packed sessions with a range of activities designed to help them develop skills for life, on and off the court.
Created with world leading expertise, LTA Youth coaching programme offers a fresh modern approach to tennis in schools, clubs and parks. This builds significantly on the success of previous LTA initiatives, such as Tennis for Kids and Team Challenge, to create a clear path that supports kids' enjoyment of tennis, progression and an informal competitive environment within which kids will thrive.
The development of LTA Youth is driven by insight that children's physical literacy is deteriorating, and there are growing concerns over declining physical activity amongst children. This has been amplified during the pandemic with the percentage of kids taking part in daily sport falling from 46.8% to 19%. As outdoor tennis begins to re-open across Britain, now is the prime time for children to enjoy LTA's new youth coaching programmes in school and recreation. For education settings, LTA Youth Schools' content has been specifically created to develop key character qualities such as perseverance, resilience and respect which complement the school sports curriculum.
The LTA is striving to help young people live happier and healthier lives, with a target of inspiring 10% of children in Britain to play tennis once a week by 2023. More than just learning tennis, LTA Youth helps them develop a whole range of physical and neurological abilities including balance, coordination and fine motor skills, with activities involving decision-making and strengthening hand-eye coordination. These are core skills that will help set kids up for life, not just for tennis, developing them as both players and people.
Sam Richardson, LTA Head of Tennis Products and Programmes, says: "Playing tennis, no matter your age, ability, of how often you get on court, is one of the best ways to improve your balance, mind power and lightning moves – but we don't often think about how those skills can level up other areas of your life. With the pandemic having a real impact on how active children have been, we're proud to offer an insight-led, world-class programme that get kids active, develops fundamental motor skills and supports athletic development to ensure children progress, compete and enjoy the game. LTA Youth has all of this; it's all about instilling confidence on and off the court."
Top British tennis talent are also showing their support for the programme and its positive impact. Rising tennis stars Emma Raducanu and Paul Jubb, and double Paralympic medallist Lucy Shuker will all be supporting LTA Youth throughout the year.
When enrolling onto the programme for the first time, kids will be assigned a colour based on their age and tennis experience, which will then determine what size court and racket, as well as what pressure ball they play with. Kids want to play in groups and with their friends, so coaches will support kids to develop their skills to become a more proficient player - no matter what their age or level.
To make it easier for kids who have never played tennis before, there is a dedicated tennis taster course called LTA Youth Start, which combines coach content from the Blue & Red stages into a standardised course. For just £29.99 (plus postage) kids will receive 6-hours of coaching sessions (typically one hour per week for 6 weeks) a tennis racket, balls, a personalised t-shirt, certificates and more. Enrolling in LTA Youth Start will take kids' footwork, agility, strength and speed to the next level, which ultimately will help them develop physical skills that they can take into all walks of life.
With a jam-packed tennis calendar ahead, kids have the chance to embark upon their own winning journeys with plenty of exciting competitions to look forward to within the Youth coaching programme, from the LTA Youth Team Challenge through to the LTA Youth Local Tour. Competition is essential to retaining children in sport and helping them develop and progress.