Shropshire primary school pupils will be introduced to tennis via the newly-launched LTA Youth Programme at a series of fun roadshows around the county this week.
Shropshire tennis coaches will be visiting schools from Monday to Friday to deliver free tennis lessons, with hundreds of children set to take part.
It’s all part of an LTA drive to get more children picking up a racket and enjoying playing tennis.
Part of the LTA Youth Programme also involves teachers being able to complete free online sessions to allow them to start teaching tennis lessons.
More than 50 Shropshire teachers have already signed up – in the process earning their schools a £250 reward voucher and a free activity pack – together with the confidence to begin teaching tennis sessions, often supported by coaches.
Bob Kerr, the LTA Councillor for Tennis Shropshire, said the response from the county’s schools and teachers to the new LTA Youth Programme has been excellent.
“I’ve never known a response like it from schools,” he said. “Tennis Shropshire ran a pilot scheme towards the end of 2019 to offer some taster sessions during lessons.
“It took place during curriculum time and about 3,000 children enjoyed those taster sessions during a successful week.
“It involved six Shropshire clubs, with six coaches going into schools and delivering the sessions, with pupils who had enjoyed them then invited to their local clubs.
“The results were quite staggering. From the children that actually went to a local club, about 80 per cent signed up to a Tennis for Kids course, as it was at the time, or other junior programmes that clubs were offering.
“We are now looking forward to the Tennis Shropshire Schools Roadshow.
“Taster sessions are being held in primary schools across the county, with children then invited to a number of clubs over this weekend of May 15 and 16.
“They will have the opportunity to sign up for an LTA Youth Start course for youngsters aged between four and 11 who are new to tennis.”
The six-week courses offer a modern and dynamic approach to tennis training, with children also receiving a tennis racket and a set of balls, a branded t-shirt, activity cards, a lanyard, stickers and a certificate for £29.99 (+ £5 postage and packaging).
LTA Youth, the first major rebranding of junior tennis for more than 20 years, extends right across clubs, parks, youth clubs, scout and guide groups, and particularly around schools.
It is split into Youth Starter for beginners, Youth Schools – which is the schools programme – and Youth Competition, with all three complementing each other.
As Bob said: “It’s about making something that’s accessible for everybody, that’s fun and attractive, and can start a player off on a particular pathway in terms of a learning process.”
Tennis coaches keen to be involved in teaching junior tennis have undergone specialist LTA Youth training to ensure they deliver the same sessions during the six-week course.
The recent launch of LTA Youth Schools has quickly proved to be a real hit, with Shropshire teachers embracing the chance to sign up for online tennis teaching sessions.
Bob added: “For any teacher that decides they would like to undergo online training, a two-hour course on how to deliver a basic tennis session, the school receives a £250 reward voucher.
“The programme brings together free PE lesson plans, personal development resources, teacher training and much more.
“The reward voucher can be put towards either equipment or to have a qualified coach come in to schools and deliver what would be the equivalent of 10 lessons.
“Since the launch of LTA Youth at the end of March, more than 50 primary school teachers from around Shropshire have now been trained up.
“What we’re now doing in conjunction with our own Tennis Shropshire Schools Roadshow is contacting those teachers to ask if they would like the opportunity to work alongside a coach in running some taster sessions.
“It’s not going to cost schools anything as they have their £250 voucher.
“What we are suggesting to schools is that a coach delivers at least 10 sessions, which will actually include an LTA Youth Start course at schools, hopefully during curriculum time.
“But if that’s not possible, it can be done as part of an after school extra curricular activity.”
Shropshire schools keen to find out more about the LTA Youth Schools Programme, and how to get involved, can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.