Guest Author - Sandra Eggers
Tennis is the sport for a lifetime, and itís a great way for the family to spend time together participating in a healthy activity.
Getting started in tennis is not hard and itís not expensive. For adults and children alike, the two most important things you need before hitting the courts are shoes and a racket.
It is essential that anyone stepping onto a tennis court have appropriate tennis shoes, those designed for tennis - not running shoes and not black-soled basketball shoes. Tennis shoes are designed to support your foot when you make quick stops and starts. They will make it easier for you to move around the court, and minimize risk of injury. After all, itís not the sport for a lifetime if you fall and twist your ankle because you arenít wearing good shoes.
As far as tennis rackets go, you can spend as much or as little as you want. If youíre new to the sport, you may want to go with something less expensive. As you get better and develop your game, you will need to change to a racket that is more suitable for a higher-level player.
For juniors starting out in tennis, it is important to get them a tennis racket that is the right size, and appropriate to their height. The childís age has nothing to do with what tennis racket to get. The correct racket for a junior to use is one whoís length and weight is right for the childís size, not age.
Keep in mind when shopping for a junior racket, that less expensive is probably the best way to go initially. Most children starting out wonít know the difference, and you will be throwing away good money on an expensive junior racket for a child who will outgrow it in a matter of months. Also, as with adults improving their game, the child will need a different type of racket as they get better. If you have a junior whoís serious about tennis, you should be prepared to buy many rackets over the years.
Junior tennis rackets come in lengths ranging from 21 inches for small kids, up to 25 inches for taller kids. A general rule of thumb is, the shorter rackets are a good size for children under 4 feet tall, and the longer rackets are more appropriate for children near 5 feet. After about age 10, a serious junior player will be ready to graduate to an adult racket.
To gauge how long your junior racket should be, have the child stand with arms extended and measure from the armpit to fingertip. This is an approximate length of a racket that would be appropriate for the child to play with. Of course, weight and grip size are also factors to be considered in determining which racket to purchase.
Most major tennis racket manufacturers (Head, Prince, Wilson, Yonex) make junior rackets in a variety of sizes. The majority are very reasonably priced aluminum frames, which are more than adequate for a beginner. You will find a few junior rackets made out of titanium and graphite, offered for a more advanced player, and at adult-racket prices. These rackets are more appropriate for a serious junior about to graduate into an adult-sized frame.
Once youíve got a good pair of tennis shoes and rackets for the entire family, youíll be ready to hit the courts and get started enjoying the great game of tennis.
Have fun on the courts!