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Thinking of enrolling your child in a sport? Here is what to look for.

ANZ Tennis Hot Shots
Thanks to our brand partner, ANZ Tennis Hot Shots

Thinking of getting your child into sport? You’ve got a lot of options. So many that at times it can feel really overwhelming, right? The choices these days are so plentiful that it’s hard to work out what’s the right one for your kids.

I have two boys aged 9 and 7, and when it comes to sport they couldn’t be more different. One of them is never seen without a ball in his hand, near his foot, in the air somewhere surrounding him.

The other – well, he’s a little more reluctant.

When he started school I decided it was time to get him involved in a sport. I enrolled him in the same sport most of the other kids around us were doing and thought things were simple. Box ticked. How wrong I was.

Week after week I’d force him to go to training and the games, resisting the moans and groans, ignoring the pleas to “just have a week off”, reminding him he had committed to a team and he had to honour that commitment. Telling him he’d be letting the other kids down. That they relied on him.

Week after week he stood on that field pulling at the grass, watching the clouds, doing anything EVERYTHING but joining in.

Shauna and her son. Image: supplied.

He was miserable.

I couldn’t work out why one of my sons adored sport and lived for it and the other one didn’t.
The answer was obvious to everyone except me; I was pushing him into the wrong sport.

On a whim, I decided to let both of my sons try ANZ Tennis Hot Shots. I was prepared for one of my boys to love it and the other to be less enthusiastic. I continually braced myself for the cries of “I don’t wanna go” and “I’m bored” or “I hate it.” But they never came.

To my surprise my boys began to ask when it was tennis day, to eagerly anticipate it, to ask me if they could go twice a week – and a love for the sport was born in both of them.

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If you are thinking of enrolling your child in sport, there are a few things I’ve learnt that you should consider before deciding which program is right for your child.

1. Make sure it’s fun.

I don’t want my kids to be the next Lleyton Hewitt, I just want them to enjoy themselves. The ANZ Tennis Hot Shots program is tailored to make sure it is a blast every step of the way. There is no standing in lines learning boring drills; it’s all about learning through play from the very beginning.

2. Make sure it’s convenient.

Make sure it works for you and your family’s schedule, so ensuring that it’s convenient and easy to get to is key. No one wants to be driving half way around the city just to cart your kids to sport. ANZ Tennis Hot Shots is available at more than 2,500 venues across Australia, so there’s probably already one in your local community.

The kids can make lots of new friends nearby too. Image: supplied.

3. Make sure the program is designed to give everyone a chance – not just the kids with better skills.

The great thing about tennis is that you don’t have to be that “sporting natural” – ANZ Tennis Hot Shots is designed to make sure that tennis is a game that everyone can play. Just as importantly as learning the skills of the game, ANZ Tennis Hot Shots programs also teaches kids how to follow rules and exposes them to healthy competition.

ANZ Tennis Hot Shots also uses lighter racquets and lower bouncing balls with smaller nets, which means that kids will learn to play tennis in an environment that is catered towards their needs and abilities, which is the best way to foster a love of the game.

4. Choose a sport that allows them to develop skills at their own pace.

There is nothing to be gained by throwing your child in the deep end because if it’s too hard, they’ll lose interest. ANZ Tennis Hot Shots is specifically designed for primary school-aged children. There are four stages that each use modified equipment suited to the child’s skill level and age to ensure the kids develop their skills and learn to compete at their own pace.

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"ANZ Tennis Hot Shots is specifically designed for primary school-aged children." Image: supplied.

5. Choose a sport they can play their whole life.

Not all the games you play as a child can come with you into your adult life, it’s a great idea to choose a sport that sets them up to play right into their adulthood. Tennis is a game that people of all ages enjoy, one which your kids will be able to one day play with their friends on school holidays, after work with colleagues, and one day perhaps even with their own children.

6. Look for one that enables them to learn in a nurturing environment.

While none of us want to be helicopter parents, we do want to keep our kids safe and for them to develop healthy habits from a young age. The benefits of tennis is that while it keeps your kids active, healthy and fit, it is a non-contact sport that is more about skill development than about having a physical advantage. ANZ Tennis Hot Shots is taught by accredited Tennis Australia coaches in a nurturing environment that kids will enjoy and keep them playing week after week.

7. A sport that you can play with your kids means the whole family can play together.

Some restrictive team sports mean that your child has to stick to their teams in order to play. Tennis, on the other hand, is a sport that the whole family can take part in. What’s more, with ANZ Tennis Hot Shots modified equipment you can play anywhere – in the backyard, the park and even the beach. And how many sports can you play with your parents and even your grandparents? It’s the perfect way to spend quality time as a family, as well as encourage the ones you love to lead a healthy, active lifestyle.

8. Look for a sport that can teach skills for life such as agility, flexibility, balance and speed.

Oh, and how to enjoy yourself while getting fit – that’s a lifelong skill we all need.

What do you look for in your children's sport?

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