When I was teaching in a club atmosphere I controlled the development of my students on a weekly basis, now teaching at a resort I don’t have that luxury, but the weather is great. Most of our patrons are here for long periods of time or back two to three times a year, so I do have input.
My concern is primarily with the juniors. I can’t tell you how many kids I work with have a solid baseline game but no clue how to hit a formidable serve, not to mention any resemblance of a volley. If you are a parent of a promising junior, or any interested young player, please stay involved with their lessons and make sure that the whole game is be taught to your child.
The time to begin kids using the Continental grip has always been a tricky issue. It falls in line with when is it okay for a child pitcher to throw a curve ball. We do not want to put too much torque on young arms. The good news is that after a junior is comfortable at the net (using whatever grip necessary) the Continental can be introduced slowly so it becomes comfortable. Then, as age, strength and body grow the grip can be incorporated into the rest of the game. To hit forehand and backhand ground strokes with power and depth is great and probably the main weapons in a child’s game, but to be able to hit every other shot in tennis correctly the Continental grip should be used.
What does the serve, overhead, volley, half volley, drop shot, forehand and backhand slice along with a defensive lob have in common? They are all hit in the Continental grip.
I’m sure you have heard the saying –change a losing strategy- well if your child has not been taught the other shots there is nothing to change to.
We all want tennis to be fun for the kids and they have a terrific time smacking balls from the baseline. As a teacher I remember it was very easy to do different baseline drills with an accomplished junior to improve their skills without having to hear any complaints, but after fifteen minutes of baseline drills we would move on to a half hour of new grips and shots for total game improvement, then end with fifteen more minutes of baseline drills.
If the child is ten or under do not worry about it, hitting and happy are the main concerns, but if they have been playing awhile and are a bit older it is probably time to make sure their game is expanding.
Go to http://onlinetennistraining.com for moretips and my book "Winning Tennis Strokes"
Good Luck-Have Fun!!