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Tiny tennis tournaments

Put your tennis skills to the test with a tiny tournament of games with a twist.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Rope
  • Something to mark lines (for example, chalk, masking tape, or rope)
  • Big pieces of paper
  • Permanent markers
  • Tennis rackets
  • Tennis balls
  • Different coloured hoops (or rope or string)
  • Wooden stakes (optional)
  • Wooden mallet (optional)

Before you begin

  • Make sure you’ve risk assessed your meeting, and also have a COVID-19 safe risk assessment that’s been agreed by your line manager. You can check out more detailed guidance here
  • Tie lengths of rope between a pair of trees at the players’ hip height to create a tennis net. If there aren’t trees, carefully use a wooden mallet to drive wooden stakes into the ground. Attach the rope to these to create nets.
  • You’ll need at least two makeshift nets for the bases Volley good fun and Twister tennis.
  • You’ll need an umpire to run each base. They should explain the challenge, make sure everyone follows the rules, and note down people’s scores.
  • This activity works best when the four bases are run at the same time.
  • Each base should have an umpire who will call out the different challenges involved in each game, and mark down players’ scores.

Safety checklist

Use the Safety checklist to help you plan and risk asses your activity. Additional coronavirus-related controls to think about may include:

  • Set up a handwashing station that you can use throughout the session.
  • Avoid sharing equipment if you can. If you have to share equipment, clean it between uses.
  • Remind everyone to stay at a safe distance when they’re moving around the space.
  • Make sure you have enough rackets so that everyone has their own. You could ask anyone that has one to bring it from home if your group doesn’t have enough.

Get ready to play

  1. Everyone should split into four groups.
  2. Each group should go to a different base and complete the activity.
  3. The person leading the activity should tell everyone when to move on and complete their second, third, and fourth base.

Volley good fun

  1. Everyone should get into pairs.
  2. Each pair should find a space where they can stand two or more metres apart from each other (and everyone else). One person should be on each side of the net and each pair should be opposite each other.
  3. Each person should get their own tennis racket. Each pair should get a tennis ball.
  4. One person should throw the ball over the net, and their partner should forehand volley it back.
  1. The person who threw the ball should catch the volleyed return, and throw the ball back again to their partner.
  2. Each pair should continue like this, counting how many volleys are returned and caught in a row without the ball touching the ground.
  1. Each pair should switch over, so that the person throwing and catching the ball is now volleying it.

Footwork frenzy

  1. Everyone should find a space.
  2. The umpire should call out a footwork movement, such as: jog, side shuffle, hop on one foot, kneel, or stand on the spot.
  3. If the umpire calls out ‘Umpire says jog’, then everyone should do this movement.
  4. If the umpire simply calls out ‘jog’, then everyone should continue with the movement they were already doing.
  5. If anyone does the wrong movement (or switches movements without being told ‘Umpire says’), they’re out of the game.
  6. Give the winner some points, and play the game a few times, noting down everyone’s scores.

Twister tennis

  1. Everyone should get into pairs.
  2. Each pair should find a space where they can stand two or more metres apart from each other (and everyone else). One person should be on each side of the net and each pair should be opposite each other.
  3. Each person should get their own tennis racket. Each pair should get a tennis ball
  4. The umpire should call out a way of hitting the ball, such as: forehand, backhand, both hands, over your head, and under a leg.
  5. One half of the pair should throw the ball to their partner, who should hit it back using the technique the umpire has specified.
  6. The person who threw the ball should catch it and throw back to their partner.
  7. After a few throws and return hits, the umpire should switch the way of hitting the ball.
  1. Each pair should count how many hits are returned and caught in a row, and after give their best score to the umpire.
  2. Each pair should switch over, so the person throwing and catching the ball is now hitting it.

Serve it up

  1. The umpire should mark out a service line using rope, sticks, stones, jumpers, or whatever else is available.
  2. The umpire should put some different coloured hoops at varying distances from the line.
  1. The umpire should tell everyone how many points each hoop is worth. The hoops that are furthest away from the service line should be worth more points.
  2. Everyone should take it in turns to throw a ball overhead from the service line and try to bounce it in one of the hoops.
  1. The umpire should mark down the points each player achieves.

And the winner is…

  1. Once everyone’s had a go at every base, everyone should gather together as a whole group.
  2. The umpire for each base should announce the winning person or pair.
  1. Everyone should take it in turns to share the player they think: improved the most, didn’t give up when they found something difficult, and encouraged and cheered on others.

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. 

LTA certificate
PDF – 970.6KB

Reflection

This activity was all about having fun while being active. Which game did everyone enjoy most? Why was that one the most enjoyable? Some people may have preferred the games in pairs, while others may have liked getting stuck into the Serve it up challenge solo. Perhaps some people found Twister tennis easier than Footwork frenzy, or were more confident in some skills than others. Did people prefer the bases that they found easier, or did they enjoy challenging themselves to improve their skills?

Why not plan another tiny tennis tournament to wrap up this session? Ask everyone which games they want to include, and if there are any other games they know of which develop tennis-specific skills.

Safety

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

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Contact games and activities

Make sure everyone understands what contact is acceptable, and monitor contact throughout the activity.

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.