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Racket-free hack

No racket, no tennis balls, no court? No problem! Use these games to build your tennis skills without the frills.

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You’ll need

  • Paper plates
  • Sticky tape
  • Coloured pens or pencils
  • Balloons
  • Sticks

Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.

Setting up the activity

  • Make sure you have enough equipment for everyone to craft a tennis set each. Everyone will need to make two rackets.
  • Blow up some balloons and secure them with a knot. Clean the balloons before you play the game. Each pair will need one balloon between them, but you may want to blow up extra in case some pop or you want to increase the difficulty of a game by using multiple balloons at the same time.

Craft your kit

  1. Everyone should write their names on two paper plates. You could also spend some time decorating these, so each person has two colourful and unique rackets.
  1. Everyone should use sticky tape to secure one end of a stick to the back of one of the paper plates, so the stick acts like handle. Make sure the other end of the stick doesn’t stick out beyond the edge of the plate.
  1. Everyone should repeat step two to add a handle to the pack of their other paper plate racket.

Warm up with a game

  1. Everyone should split into small groups of around five people.
  2. Each group should stand in a circle, maintaining a safe amount of space between them.
  3. The person leading the game should put a balloon in the centre of the circle.
  4. Everyone should hold one paper plate racket in each hand.
  5. One player should pick up the balloon from the centre of the circle, using their paper plate rackets like bread in a sandwich.
  6. The player with the balloon should return to their space in the circle.
  7. They should call someone else in the circle’s name, and then throw the balloon towards them by tipping their rackets upwards and releasing the balloon as they do so.
  8. The person called should run into the centre of the circle and catch the balloon between their rackets.
  9. This person then returns to their place in the circle, calls someone else’s name and throw the balloon towards them.
  10. Continue playing for five minutes, or until everyone has had a go at throwing and catching.

Play balloon tennis

  1. Everyone should get into pairs. Each pair will need a balloon, and each person will need one of their paper plate rackets.
  2. Each pair should find a space and stand a good distance away from their partner.
  3. Each pair should try to begin a balloon volley rally, hitting the balloon to each other without it touching the ground.
  4. Each pair should count their hits. How many can they get in a row?

Get a certificate for your achievement

After completing this activity you can download the certificate, which entitles you to a 10% discount on the LTA Youth Start Programme. Scan the QR code on the certificate to sign up!

Before downloading, we would appreciate if you could answer three short questions to help LTA identify areas and regions where there is high demand for their Youth Programme courses. 

Reflection

In this activity, everyone found out that you don’t need a court, racket or even a tennis ball to play a game of tennis.

Everyone developed some key tennis skills, such as hand-eye coordination and hitting technique), without using the usual equipment for the game. Can anyone think of some other equipment they could use instead of a tennis racket and ball?

People might suggest the lids from plastic food containers as rackets and scrunched up aluminium foil as balls. Can anyone think of equipment for any other sports that they could craft with things they have lying around at home?

Safety

All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed. Take a look at our guidance on running active games safely.

Make the warm up game more difficult by adding multiple balloons to the circle. This means players have to listen carefully and keep track of which balloon to catch and return.

When you play balloon tennis you can add in a variety of challenges, like only using your right or left hand to hit the ball, standing on one foot, or playing the game kneeling down. You could also increase the number of players and number of balloons in play.

If you’re using multiple balloons in a game, people may find it easier to keep track if they’re all different colours.

Make it accessible

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.