Tennis is beneficial for nearly every aspect of life, from physical health to mental acuity, so it makes sense that so many parents want their kids to thrive on the court. In efforts to help their children excel in tennis, many parents send their little ones away to a seasonal camp — but it’s important to note that not all camps are exactly alike. In fact, if parents and kids don’t do the right research, they could end up enrolled in a program that won’t help them improve in any way.
With summer rapidly approaching, now is the time to make family plans around the right tennis camp. Here are a few qualifications to research before signing up, so kids benefit the most from their tennis camp experience.
Parents shouldn’t assume that all tennis camps will occur during the summer break. Most schools around the country follow different academic calendars, which means some schools might continue to be in session into June, while others do not start a new academic year until September. Tennis camps often take place in week-long terms from May through August, but whether a certain camp overlaps with a certain school’s schedule is to be determined by parents and young players. Checking and double-checking both camp and school schedules is key, especially for camps on the fringes of summer or during other times of the year.
Many serious young tennis players are willing to travel to see their sports dreams come true — but that isn’t necessarily the case for all young tennis players. Some tennis players prefer to stay close to home, either for cost considerations or for convenience. Families who prefer not to send their child across the country, or across the world, for a tennis camp should be careful to read about the camp’s location. It is possible to find a worthwhile camp close to home, but the best tennis camps tend to be located on well-appointed campuses so that they can provide the best resources to camp-goers. Parents and players should discuss their options near and far to make the best choice for the future.
3. Age Requirement
A five-year-old tennis player and a 15-year-old tennis player have notably different requirements from coaches and camps — which is why tennis camps tend to be divided up by age range. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common mistakes parents make when signing their children up for camp: not verifying that the age requirement is appropriate for their young player. If the age range isn’t clear on a camp’s sign-up page, parents and players should feel comfortable contacting the camp’s offices or customer support for more information.
4. Skill Requirement
By the same token, not all 15-year-old tennis players perform at the same skill level. It borders on cruel to group together a ranked junior tennis player and a player who just picked up a racket a few months before. Fortunately, camps also tend to separate players by skill level in addition to age, so players are guaranteed to get the precise, coaching, conditioning and community they need. Some camps offer vague guidelines, like “beginner” and “advanced,” while others have more precise qualifications, like USTA rankings or auditions. Again, parents and players should research skill requirements or contact camps directly to better understand skill levels.
5. Program Content
Not every tennis player wants to attend a camp that will make them a tennis star — some want a fun summer activity; some want to get fit, and some merely want to improve small aspects of their tennis game. Parents and players should discuss what they hope to achieve from the camp experience and then look for a camp that has programs to fit those expectations. Some content to consider includes:
- Co-ed. Is the camp welcome to children of all genders, or is it divided by sex? If it is a sleepaway camp, are the players separated into sex-specific dorms? Are the sexes trained together?
- Conditioning or fitness training. Some tennis camps include fitness training as a component, but not all tennis players need or want guidance in the gym.
- Bonus activities. Will players have downtime? Will there be non-tennis group activities, like crafting, visiting nearby shops, hiking, etc.?
Not all tennis camps are created equal, and making a mistake when selecting a tennis camp could be a substantial waste of time and money. Parents and players should work together to choose the right tennis camp by researching the qualifications above thoroughly before making any decisions. Then, the experience will undoubtedly be fun and beneficial for all.