Seeding the ground for tennis

13 October, 2015   Nicolette Mok

tennis clinic A physical education teacher being put through the paces in a ActiveSG Tennis Teacher's workshop designed to help educators inculcate a love for the sport among kids. Photo: SportSG

“It’s about having fun. Learning comes second,” declared veteran tennis coach Robert Davis.

It isn’t often that a teacher in a local school would tell one that. However, lessons, particularly Physical Education (P.E.) ones, might just take an exciting turn in the near future.

Davis, who has coached professionals from around Asia, was at the Yio Chu Kang Tennis Centre earlier this week, conducting the ActiveSG Tennis Teacher’s Workshop designed to help educators inculcate a love for the sport among young children.

“Our goal is to introduce tennis to schools, primarily through the teachers. We didn’t focus that much on actual tennis technique, but just the very bare basics. It’s more on group participation, getting kids excited,” Davis explained.

Continuing that the modified tennis taught at the three-day workshop was mostly fun workouts with a tennis slant, he pointed out that the teachers covered activities such as running, jumping, stretching, and coordination exercises – with tennis basics “weaved” into them.

“Some of the activities that we have taught them at this workshop may not actually be tennis, but they utilise the skills required for tennis, such as hand-eye coordination, power, mobility, and balance,” said ActiveSG Sector 1 manager Mark Teo, who was also on hand to help out at the workshop.

The workshop’s participants comprised a group of adults from a diverse range of sporting backgrounds, including a handful who had never played tennis before. However, they were united by a common purpose: to develop an interest in tennis among youth.

Adapting for school

According to David Lau, a teacher-in-charge of tennis at C.H.I.J. Secondary, he had learnt simple, exciting activities at the workshop and he has plans to adapt them for his school.  

“What we’ve learnt today can be brought back to schools for use during CCA and P.E. We’ve picked up a whole range of new activities that we can adapt for our own lessons, and help them get excited about tennis in general,” he revealed.

“We hope that students in schools, having tried out these activities, will go home and tell their parents that they had a lot of fun and that they also learnt a bit of forehand, backhand, as well as other things to inspire them to take tennis more seriously in future,” concurred Teo.

Learning alongside the teachers were also a number of ActiveSG staff members, who ranged from centre managers, to guest officers, and even lifeguards.

In fact, Teo shared that another of the workshop’s aims was to dispel misconceptions of tennis being an “elite” and expensive sport, as well as to raise awareness of the fact that one did not require a tennis court to learn tennis. ActiveSG sports centres, with or without tennis facilities, were good enough spaces, as its staff members would have you know.

“What we’re teaching the ActiveSG staff is that one can do modified versions of tennis in a badminton court, at open spaces by the pool, or at beach volleyball courts,” he stated.

Ultimately, as Davis surmised, one “does not need a full-sized tennis court to play.”

“Especially with young kids, you can just clear a room out and bump tennis balls against the wall!” he stated.

tennic clinicTeachers, as well as ActiveSG staff members, were part of a 3 day tennis workshop on how to entice youth to pick up tennis. Photo: SportSG