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Why attracting tennis players is easy but difficult at retaining them?
And, what is the added value to using different types of balls?

It has been studied for a long time by the ITF in collaboration with Sports medicine doctors and the answer is that the need is to adapt the sport to the needs of the tennis player, to his level and to his age.

The key message is…Play and Stay:

- Tennis is easy …when coaches are working with starter players who use slower red, orange or green balls.

- Tennis is fun…..when starter players serve, rally and score are incorporated from the first lessons.

- Tennis competition can be fun…format and scoring systems exist to suit all lifestyles.

- Tennis is healthy…research conducted in 2006 by the ITF and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine supports this.

- Tennis is a sport for all and all players should have a rating which helps them to find players of a similar level to play with.

The Ball Is Key!

Using the right ball with starter players is crucial to player retention. There is no doubt that the slower balls give players more time and control and make it easier for them to rally.

Slower Balls, Smaller Courts, Better Juniors!

The slower balls are crucial for developing starter players. Higher level juniors benefit as the balls help them develop efficient technique and allow them to implement more advanced tactics than could be performed using a normal ball on a full court.

Adults….Play Tennis Fast!

Some of the major nations (including US, UK, Germany, Spain and France) have had a lot of success with the slower balls in introducing tennis to adults. Just like children, if adults cannot serve, rally and score on a full court with a regular ball, they should use a ball where they can.

Coaching Players with Disabilities

Slower balls can be most helpful when coaching players with disabilities and can dramatically increase their enjoyment and success in tennis (stated by Mark Bullock’s article later that tackles tennis for 10 and under players with disabilities).

What About Technique?

Technique is very important. Once coaches have used the slower balls to give players the proper technique they should give the players relevant technical (and tactical) instruction that can then help them to serve, rally and score more effectively. This is in effect the simple definition of the Game Based Approach which is fundamental of all coaching at all levels. Whether the coach is working with starter players or with advanced players, all instruction relates to helping the players play the game better. All instruction given is relevant to helping the player implement tactics and give relevant instruction (Technical, tactical, physical or mental) to help the player to serve rally and score more effectively!”


Article based on ITF tennis Play and Stay Campaign and Tennis10s.


By Malek OUNSI
Ms in Research In Physiotherapy
Sports Physiotherapist
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