What equipment can you use to teach 3-4 year olds tennis?

tennis-3-4-yearsI am asked often about what equipment can be used when teaching 3-4 year olds tennis. I do lots of this at the moment, and there are several bits of equipment which I just wouldn’t be without – they make the lesson more fun and give the kids some success by making it easier for them – even a little 3 year old who can’t catch a ball or hit from a drop feed.

Quick disclosure – these are Amazon links, which means if you buy them, I’ll get a few pennies from Amazon – but I only recommend things that I actually use myself and work. I’ve put a a listing for Amazon.com (US) and Amazon.co.uk, but if you are from somewhere else, I’m sure you can find something similar locally.

So here is the list of equipment, along with some ideas what to do with them.

Juggle Scarves


  • These float, so even a two year old can catch it. Throw them up in the air, the kids run and catch them. You can do two at a time, one in either hand, so two children run to catch it – or you can have one kid try to catch two of them
  • The kids try to catch them on their racket
  • The kids hit them with their rackets from the coach throw
  • The kids can throw them up with one hand and try to hit them with their rackets (make sure you space out the kids)


Foam Balls

A bit easier than red balls as they are so light. But if it’s at all windy, foam balls don’t work, so you’ll need red balls. See below…


Bean Bags

Here are some exercises I do with these:

  1. Simply throw & catch with the kids or they throw & catch with each other (not all 3 year olds work well in pairs though:-)
  2. I throw and they catch them on their rackets and flip them back to me
  3. I get them to walk, run, jump, crouch down etc. all while keeping bean bag on racket
  4. They put their rackets on the ground, stand a couple of feet away and try to throw the beanbag underarm onto their racket – win a cone each time they do
  5. Balance them on their heads
  6. Try to flip them to each other – use throw down lines to place them a few feet away from each other when you do this.


Beach Balls

  • You can throw these straight into the kids’ hands, so they almost can’t miss
  • Get them to catch it after a bounce
  • Throw it a bit away from them so they run and catch it after a bounce
  • Get them to throw to each other – win a cone for each catch
  • Throw to them and let them hit it with their hand – likewise with a bounce and then running
  • Hit underarm with rackets, firstly with no bounce then with a bounce
  • Get them to hit them along the ground to each other – I like to get them to each stand behind a throw-down line facing each other, with 2 cones in between them making a kind of goal – they try to score a goal by hitting the ball through the cones.

These look quite cool as well…….



Batting / Hitting Tee

This is one of the most useful pieces of equipment that you can have. Great for the kids who can’t hit the ball at all. I guarantee, if you put them in the right position, you can get even an under 3 to hit a ball over a mini net off a batting tee (not that I’m saying we should have under 3’s necessarily doing tennis lessons).

I’ve used these on occasions with good players and adults as well – it’s a great way for them to feel what a good contact point feels like, and learn about things like the angle of the racket face at impact.


Serve Doctor


This very handy bit of equipment from Joe Dinoffer of OncourtOffcourt is intended as a serve aid (obviously) – but I have found it great for teaching tots as well. It’s like a kind of a fishing rod with a ball attached – you hold it out and the kids hit it. Again, great for those who can’t do a bounce hit yet. One fun thing I do is to make them run and catch it – I run away from them, they have to catch me and hit the ball – they seem to love that.


Hand Rackets


If you’ve read this far, you’re probably getting the idea of the kinds of things you could do with these…..kids just slip them over their hands – easier than rackets.


Quick Start Full Tennis Package

Getting into the more expensive stuff here. Don’t be overwhelmed as you don’t need all of this, but while I’m doing this post I may as well put it here. This is if you want to set up 36ft or 60ft courts on a hard surface anywhere – school playground, driveway etc.




Ahhh cones – coaches’ best friend. Not only are they good for targets and marking out areas for older players, there are some great uses for really little ones.

  1. Catching a ball in the cone – can be thrown by the coach or they can try and drop the ball and catch it in the cone
  2. I do an exercise for really little ones where they have a cone in each hand and just tip the ball from one cone to the other
  3. Scoring – in many of the tots sessions, they win a cone every time they catch a ball / hit a ball etc. (just make sure everyone succeeds at some point).

As a side note, there is a great exercise for older players or adults who rush into their shot. Simply make them catch a ball in a cone – it’s almost impossible for them to do unless they stay back and let the back drop.


17″ & 19″ Tennis Rackets

Throw down lines


Well that’s all for now. I may come back and add some items later – and please put in the comments section any useful equipment you use with this age group.


4 Responses to “What equipment can you use to teach 3-4 year olds tennis?”

  1. Desire' Says:

    Hi, tx for your great site.

    I am looking for circles for my coaching, I find them so useful. I live in South Africa and there is nothing like that to be found here. Do u have any clues.

    Tennis Regards
    Desire’ Wilson

  2. Karl Stowell Says:

    Desire I’m not an expert here, but it looks like this page http://amzn.to/Amazon-Global-Shipping shows all items that Amazon.com will ship internationally, including to SA. In the sports section, a search for ‘spots’ immediately brings some up. Not ideal I know as shipping may be costly, but I’m not too familiar with SA so not sure where you would get them there – somewhere surely…….

  3. Beverley Says:

    Hi there,

    Just found this site so a little late responding..

    You can buy direct from us, and we ship internationally:




  4. Beverley Says:



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