When the USTA launched the QuickStart Tennis Play Format in 2008, we chose the name QuickStart to convey that this new play format was a quick and easy way for kids to start playing tennis. After a few years of experience and feedback, we've discovered the following:
- For parents with young kids who already play tennis, the "QuickStart" name could have a negative connotation - that it's not "real" tennis or refers to just beginner tennis.
- Whether a 10 and under player is a beginner or an advanced player, they should be playing on smaller courts with lower-bouncing, slower-moving balls and lighter, shorter racquets. These specifications will help kids at all levels improve their skill development.
- QuickStart Tennis refers to a play format that can be used by anyone at any age to learn tennis more quickly - whether they are 6 years old, 10 years old or 70 years old. QuickStart Tennis is not a brand name that denotes "tennis for kids".
With the 2012 rule change for kids 10 and under requiring tournament play on smaller courts with lower-bouncing, slower-moving balls and lighter, shorter racquets, it was an opportune time to change the name for this audience. Listening to your feedback, we decided on the name "10 and Under Tennis" to leverage the promotion of the rule change and to position this as "real tennis" for all kids under 10, whether they are beginners or advanced players.
10 and Under Tennis using the QuickStart Tennis play format takes a new and better approach to introducing kids to the game. Balls are lower in compression; they bounce lower and don't move as fast so they are easier to hit. This allows kids time to get to the ball and helps them develop optimal swing patterns. Racquets are sized for small hands, and the courts are smaller and easier to cover. All that equals more fun and less frustration. Full sized courts can be reconfigured to accommodate up to six 36-foot courts, so instead of waiting in line, kids can spend their time playing.
Kids learn to play baseball by first playing t-ball; they use shorter, lighter bats and larger, softer balls. Kids learning basketball shoot baskets with kid-sized balls and lowered backboards; they play soccer on smaller fields with smaller goals. But when it comes to learning tennis, we still make children play on adult-sized courts with yellow balls and adult-sized racquets. This is asking a lot of a kid who could be 2/3 the size of an adult.
But tennis has finally caught up.
10 and Under Tennis follows the same logic as other youth sports like baseball or soccer: kid-sized courts and kid-sized equipment. The benefits are immediate. Within an hour kids are rallying, having fun and psyched for more. They're playing real tennis and having real fun. And isn't that the point?
There are many ways to get your kids involved in a 10 and Under Tennis program. By clicking on the Parents link on the right you can find valuable tips and information in our Parents' Guide, learn about Community Programs near you, find organizers and facilities teaching 10 and Under Tennis, find programs and leagues - even information on becoming a coach yourself.
The basic philosophy behind 10 and Under Tennis, using the QuickStart Tennis play format, is for kids to have fun learning and playing tennis. Besides being introduced to the sport through tennis programs, there are three ways for kids to get into and enjoy the game.
The first is spontaneous play. This can be as simple as hitting off a wall outside, and practicing hand-eye coordination and getting a feel for the ball and racquet. Courts can be set up at home in driveways or backyards - no different than the way kids play catch or shoot baskets.
Second is some kind of supervised play with parents or organizers getting a group of young players at local courts just as they would any other youth sport.
Lastly is structured play within an organized 10 and Under Tennis program.
The common theme with each of these types of play? Play. Get kids playing with the right racquets and low compression balls, and let them have fun.