Tennis warm ups for little kids – the right way to do it

So…..there is a right and a wrong way to do warm ups for young children in group lessons. This article is primarily about mini tennis (under 10) but some of these principles also apply to groups of older children (and even adults).

For young children, the idea of the warm up is really to set the tone for the lesson and to get the energy levels up. With this in mind, here are some principles to stick to:

  1. Make it easy to explain. We don’t want the kids spending their first 5 minutes of the lesson listening to complicated instructions.
  2. Get them moving straight away – this continues from the first point really. A quick explanation, then go!
  3. Get EVERYONE moving at the same time. So no standing in lines. In my opinion, this is why relay races are a terrible warm up – if there are 2 lines of 4 kids, this means only a quarter of the kids are moving at any one time. Or another way of looking at it is that any one child will only be moving for a quarter of the time.
  4. Don’t do games which exclude anyone – this means games where children are ‘out’ for some reason. This is self explanatory so I won’t say any more.

So a quick and simple explanation, then get everyone moving in a way that is fun. Here are some examples of good warm ups for young children:

Snowballs aka ‘tidy your room’

Half the kids on one side of the net, half the kids on the other. Coach spreads a load of soft balls around the court. When the time starts, the kids throw the balls over the net to the other side (you tell them how it is their job to ‘tidy their room’ by clearing all the balls). They keep doing this for 2 minutes. When the coach shouts ‘stop’, the team with the least amount of balls on their side wins. The kids always seem to like this one, even though it’s so basic!



Like the old video game, there is a Pacman who is trying to catch the others. However, everyone (including the Pacman) must only run along the lines of the court.  When someone gets caught, they also become a pacman trying to catch the others.


Stuck in the mud

This can be done with either the coach or one of the children as catcher. They run around, staying inside the lines of the tennis court, balancing a bean bag (or a ball if they’re more advanced) on their rackets. When they are caught or drop their bean bag, they are stuck and cannot move. Any of the other children can ‘un-stick’ them by touching them on the shoulder. The objective for the catcher is to have everyone stuck and the objective of all the others is to avoid everyone being caught within a set amount of time.

Safe landings

A simple warm up – you get the children moving around the court in different ways – jogging, sideskipping etc. When you shout stop, they have to balance in ways which you show them. For example, the first time, they stop on one leg and hold it. The next time, one hand and one leg, the next time, they have to sit on their bottom with hands and feet off the ground.

There are tons of these warm ups if you put some thought into it. Soon, I’ll put some video on here showing these warm ups. Feel free to comment on this article.


Dodgeball can mean a thousand different things, but here is a version which is a great warm up. The kids stand along the baseline, coach on the other side of the net with foam balls. The kids try to run, touch the net and get back to the baseline without getting hit by balls that the coach is firing. The kids get a point for every time they get there and back without being hit. Just a good, fun warm-up where they are moving lots – and of course lots of excitement trying to dodge the balls.


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