Red Stage ANZ Hot Shots

Sport is a vital part of childhood development, through sports, the child improves not only their fundamental motor skills but the ability to socialise with their peers. They learn about teamwork and of course, about individual roles. Additionally, through sports, children acquire values, these values can be helpful in a sporting environment but also transferable to day-to-day life. For this reason, it is important to enrol kids in sports practices whatever the sport may be. This will not only help the child develop as an athlete but as a person as well.

Coaching Methodology

At Future Demand Tennis, we understand the importance of sport in a child’s life and that is why we focus on approaching the players with the best methodology in order to understand that every child is different and has unique, individual needs. For this reason, we as coaches pay special attention to our players to give them the best of us.

There are many methodologies to teach children how to play tennis however Future Demand Tennis is aligned with Tennis Australia and we have chosen the ANZ Tennis Hot Shots methodology which is well known around the world and have shown fantastic results in the learning process. Similar methodologies are applied in many countries but under a different name. The International Tennis Association has a similar methodology called “play and stay”, that’s the reason why they 100% support the ANZ Tennis Hot Shots.

 

ANZ Tennis Hot Shots

Tennis Australia defines the Hot Shots as a program designed to help every child, no matter their age or ability, jump in and start playing tennis. Tennis Hot Shots is played on smaller courts with modified equipment, including lighter racquets, lower nets, and low compression balls that don’t bounce too high. All those changes are designed to ease the child’s learning process. There are four stages in the Tennis Hot Shots Program and the kids are designated to each level, not because of their age but because of their motor skills and previous experience in the sport.
Below we will identify some characteristics and facts about every stage:

 

ANZ Hot Shots Blue Stage:

This stage is designed for children between 3 to 5 years but this may change depending on the individual skills of the child. In this stage, we focus on fundamental motor skill activities such as running, jumping, throwing, catching, push and pull and these are the pillars of our lessons. The objective is to build strength, balance and general coordination so do not worry if during the lessons you don’t see much interaction with the racquet as this is part of the normal learning process, and later in the preceding levels you will find more racquet interaction.

In this level, children are going to use Blue tennis balls, they are oversized, with 25% compression level. This makes the bounce lower and as a result, the children have more time to hit it, the court is small as well only 3 meters width and 8.23 meters length, the net is lower than normal to make it easy for them to pass it only 80 centimetres high and the racquet is smaller, between 17 to 19 inches.

In regards to technique, we keep the learning simple, working on groundstrokes, teaching the difference between forehand (one hand) and backhand (two hands). We start introducing the overarm serve but instead of hitting with the racquet, throwing to start the rally. In this level, we select cooperative activities over the competitive activities as the goal is everyone wins and has an unforgettable experience on the court.

 

ANZ Hot Shots Red Stage:

This stage is designed for children between 5 to 8 years. At this level, we focus more on tennis basics but through all levels we never stop working on the athletic skills which means we are going to continue to focus on coordination, and group interaction. At this level, we can find more racquet to child interaction.

The court dimension remains small but increases a little (10.97 meters length and 6 meters width), the net and balls remain the same as the Blue Stage, keeping it simple for them but the racquet may increase the size to 19 to 21 inches.

At Red Stage, we continue to develop the players technique focusing on the correct grips to perform the groundstrokes and introducing the backswing in the different shots. In Red Stage, the kids will start the rally by themselves hitting the ball from the first shot and aiming to their partner, the objective in this level is to execute cooperative rallies with their partner at the end of this level the child would hope to achieve greater accuracy and consistency. We can’t ignore the service motion at Red Stage, we keep it simple without a backswing but emphasising the contact point overhead. This level is full of new knowledge as kids will also learn volleys (forehand and backhand volley). Our principal goal when teaching the volleys are to perform the stroke with the proper grip (continental) and no swing.

As you can see, Red Stage is a stage full of new knowledge and full of nice challenges, but we will continue emphasising in learning through the game, therefore, the cooperative work is going to prevail. We will teach them how to score but not in the tennis official way, we introduce the scoring but one by one getting a big point or a bonus when someone achieves 4 points in that way they will associate easily in the future that 4 points equals a game.

ANZ Hot Shots Orange Stage:

At orange level, the average age is between 8 to 10 and to reach this level the children must have on court experience as a minimum. Ideally, we would love it if they have moved through the previous Hot Shot stages as previous experience is important but is not a determining factor to begin at this stage.

At Orange level, children are stronger and are capable to do more things on court as they have developed accuracy and consistency on the previous levels, the court dimensions are going to increase to ¾ court and the net is full size at this level, the tennis ball pressure increases to 50% to the normal balls and the racquet size change once again to 23 to 25 inches, all these changes will depend on the children’s development understanding that everyone is different.

In this age group, children are ready to go further in technical aspects that is why we are going to focus on the backswing and the follow-through as a swing improvement, these additions to their swings are going to give them the ability to start hitting adding spin to their shots such as topspin. By executing their shots with spin, we expect that they can get more consistency and their shots become more accurate.

Once they are capable of controlling their shots, we move to the next level which provides them tactical skills and introduce the defence and attack concept. The net play will take an important role at this stage as well. The serve is going to play an important role in this stage as the swing is going to be full and the majority of the points are going to start with a normal serve focusing not only on the swing but as well in the grip (continental).

This stage is fundamental in the technical improvement period because the children will perform an important amount of repetition to refine their strokes. In terms of playing the game, this is the stage when the majority of the children would begin competition, as a result, it is vital for them to score properly as they will be required to perform this skill not only in a lesson but also during match play and tournaments.

 

ANZ Hot Shots Green Stage:

Green level is designed for children aged 9 and older but not only is the age important here the tennis and a players coordination skills are fundamental to belong to this level. Players are going to play on a full-size court, with a full-size net and the balls will be at 75% compression than the normal ones, the racquet would be between 25 to 27 inches.

In this level, the concepts and knowledge previously acquired are going to be deeper and the emphasis is going to be placed on resolving questions or problems as to why should I hit to a determined area or what spin to use. In this level, children are going to put the previously learned skills to create game patterns, they are going to be capable of following strategies and we expect them to create their own tactics when they play a match. During this learning process, we will continue to develop the child’s technical skills as they are always important to keep improving.

The players ability to control their shots with spin are going to be pillars at this level. We expect that a child can hit confident groundstrokes, have the ability to change spins whether it be topspin or slice, and in regards to the Serve, we would look for the child to begin to develop a flat and slice serve as a minimum. The net game in this stage would play an important role as the child has now grown and this will help give them the confidence to go to the net. Children also begin to identify the correct moment to attack and this will be a progressional skill that we begin to focus on.

In terms of competition at this level, the majority of children should be competing in their club, region or statewide competition as they have acquired the skill to score and at Green Stage, this would be second nature.

 

Summary

Whatever level that your child currently is, we would like to remind you that this is a long process that we love to be part of, giving our best and giving the Future Demand Tennis player the tools not only to be a tennis player but a great person. Our end goal is that the children reach their best level of play while enjoying every session they are a part of.

Visualisation

“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it.”, a very famous quote by the great Muhammad Ali, and time to time we hear from many famous people that they bought their desires into reality by manifesting it through their visions and affirmations. So, what is manifestation? It is putting something into our physical reality through our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. To conceive something in our mind we need to see it with clarity too through the eyes of our mind, and this process of generating mental imagery is called creative visualization. It is a way to stimulate or recreate a visual perception.
Visualization or mental rehearsal in sports is a great tool shared not only by great athletes or high performing people but most of us in our lives, be it personal or professional. Our brain is the master of our body but still most of the time we work hard neck down and forget that it all starts from our brain and the mind residing in it. What is the mind? It is the manifestation of thoughts, perception, emotion, determination, memory, and imagination that takes place within the brain.

I see this tool as a powerful way to increase my mental strength and push me toward achieving something. It drives my motivation and helps build self-confidence and determination in me.
So, is it all? We just need to create a mental image. NO!
A very important aspect of using creative visualization for manifesting our desired results is the feelings and beliefs associated with it. So, it is very important to see, feel, and believe. It is like drawing your favourite piece of art on a blank paper.

My way to Visualization

My way is quite simple, firstly I create the ambience of the room with the fragrance of essential oil to relax and support a clear vision of what I want to manifest. Let’s say, I want to win a match against the best player in the club. Now, I sit on a chair or the ground with a straight spine and eyes closed. I begin with deep breathing to calm my thoughts and focus to visualize and feel everything, even the little details from start to finish including the weather, colours, lines, my excitement and nervousness, everything that happens on a match day. I see myself entering the club and going through a ritual of warm-up before entering the court, then starting on-court warmup and finally playing the match. I envision myself hitting the ball with good positions, stances, racquet preparation and execution on the shots; moving around the court; following the ball trajectory and the location of my shots landing on the other side. While I am playing this match in my mind, I create the strategies to win points and recreate the situations which were hard to win – i.e. my opponent playing his best. It allows me to experience point play under pressure and replay the points from the past, the only difference in this mental rehearsal is I see myself winning those points and eventually the match at the end. I also feel the joy of winning the match and at last, once I am finished, I slowly open my eyes.

You can use this tool on daily basis for practice sessions where you are specifically working on a technique or tactic, or for anything else that you want in your life.

Affirmations to support your visualization

Visualization is also incomplete without mentioning positive affirmations because an element of how this tool works is the essence of the things taking place now and here. Using affirmations (short, powerful statements used in a positive way to consciously influence your thoughts) will enhance your visualization. It may feel senseless to do affirmations out loud if you are not feeling it, but what we speak we make it real. Just like when you visualize you create energy through a mental image with all its sensations, emotions, and feelings, you can also create higher vibes with the words you speak out loud. For affirmations be mindful of using positive words.

Expectations

Lastly, have expectations. After all, there is no point in visualizing and not expecting the results. But don’t expect results to show up with you not putting any action. It will also depend on your perseverance to change your actions to support new habits to achieve your manifestation as it will require a new habit of thought, belief, and action. It is like updating your phones and computers to a new operating system where hardware doesn’t change but the software is all-new for better device performance. Time to time your trust and faith will be tested but if you keep a check on your actions and habits to align with your manifestation, it will ultimately happen. Remember, our actions become our habits and those habits become who we are.

To summarize, achieving something through the practice of visualization you need the following steps:

  1. Write precisely about what you want.
  2. Describe your vision in detail.
  3. Start to visualize, create emotions and feelings associated and do affirmations to boost your vision.
  4. Take daily actions to bring your vision to the physical world.
  5. Have courage and persist to achieve it.

Now go on, to practice this tool and play your best game with your toughest opponent in your mind and bring out the best of you.

Written By – Sonaal Asthana, Junior Development Coach @ Future Demand Tennis

Australian Open Ball Kid

Ballkids is one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. You are quite literally up and close with all the players and amongst the action of the Australian Open like no other person. Even though I only made it in on my last eligible year, it was one of the best summer experiences I’ve ever had. This is a little bit of the process you go through:

Eligible Age Group

At the Australian Open in Melbourne, the ages to be a ballkid is between 12-15 years of age. This means that kids who are 11 can try out the year before the tournament starts, as long as they turn 12 before January 1.

Ballkid Trials & Training

The first trial is usually around February – March and is done at a local tennis club/facility that you select when registering. During this trial, supervisors are looking at your ability to roll the ball, catch and throw the ball. If you are successful through the first round you will complete your second trial at Melbourne Park. If you move through trial 2 you will be invited into the ‘training squad’. This means that from around August – November you will complete four training sessions. In the training sessions, you complete drills to help with your rolling, throwing, catching, and general match flow on the court. After the four training sessions, you will find out if you have made it into the official squad and if successful YAY. You do one more training session and then begin real matches including December showdowns/playoffs through to the actual tournament.

Working at the Australian Open

During the tournaments, you will ballkid for 45 mins or an hour depending on how hot it is, and then be off for 45 mins/hour. Shifts will either be in the morning, arvo into the evening and or night. There are two positions as ballkid, the 2 net ballkids, and the 4 base ballkids. As a net ballkid, you are responsible for collecting any balls that hit the net or land in that general area and distributing them to base ballkids where required. Net ballkids also help with player service (such as giving them a cold towel) and a few other roles. Base ballkids are located at the back of the court in each corner, and are responsible for collect balls in their area, serving balls and towels to players. For the court to run smoothly all the ballkids must communicate with each other and work as a team. Ballkids are usually placed as a net or base ballkid depending on their height (taller kids are usually base ballkids, and shorter kids are usually at the net), however, it can always change, and it is important to be able to perform both roles if need be.

Benefits

There are many benefits of being a ballkid besides being close up to the action. For kids, this is a great introduction to “working” in a professional environment, where kids can learn responsibility. It is also a great social environment where kids can meet many people and make friends. Ballkids is an awesome opportunity for kids to get involved in not only the Australian Open but many other tennis tournaments, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Further Information

(Attached below is some further information about ballkids).
https://worldtennischallenge.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Woolworths-Ballkids-Program-at-the-WTC-2017-Training-guide.pdf

Hi there!
Coach Cal here,
So as you’re well aware, Future Demand Tennis has opened up a blog series and I thought I’d take this opportunity to look at tennis from a more mental perspective. To look at life on court through rose-tinted glasses if you will. Look at its emotional connection and things that have applied to life and tennis to not only make me a better player
but a better person.

I hope you’ll indulge me, and hopefully, whatever your age, whatever your standard and whatever your reason may be for playing this beautiful game, you can gain something from what I’ve experienced.

So for Numero Uno, I’m going for the question we all start with:
‘Why tennis? What makes tennis worth it?’

Well… I’m glad you asked…
(You most certainly didn’t ask but it’s my blog contribution so work with me here!)

Tennis is the chameleon of the sporting world. She’s the same game, but she blends into whatever environment you put her in.

(Also to address the actual question in your head, ‘why’s tennis a she?’… I was taught at a young age that all the most beautiful things in life were a woman. Who said chivalry is dead? However, I digress…)

Tennis is slightly different to your average chameleon however, she transforms those who enter her environment.
You could enter on the court a child picking up a racket for the first time, a seasoned veteran fresh off their 20th ITF title victory or some random who saw some person in a headband ‘grunt funny’ on tv and decided to give it a try to see if it was really necessary.

You walk on the court, you are now a tennis player.
Congratulations.
No exceptions.

It can be a relaxing hit, a lesson, a match. She comes in many different colours.
Clay courts, grass courts, hard courts,
The concrete ya uncle had leftover on a job for some couple in Toorak that they clearly over-budgeted for.
Slap some lines and a net on that bad boy and you have a court.

World-class courts aren’t the only thing that can be supplemented though. Rackets aren’t always necessary either, ask the rather convenient ‘2 by 4’ I used every time my parents took my rackets for ‘not doing my homework.’

(In hindsight, was probably why I had great hand-eye coordination at such a young age… and also why that homework still remains unfinished)

Don’t even need friends. Just a wall and a ball and ya trusty plank of wood. This was especially convenient for me… little Cal had a hard time making friends.

But it didn’t matter.
I had already met the love of my life.
And she was the sweetest.
(Ohhhhh yeahhhh, I’m about to get really dramatic on ALLLLL OF Y’ALLLLLL)

Tennis, like most sports, became a retreat for me. It became my armour against the world, where the bad things would ricochet off of me. She was my protection from all the bad things around me.
Bad day?
Something as simple as a ball and a racket and my imagination could fix it.
Being bullied?
Who needs their understanding when I understood something as perfectly as I understood tennis.
Can’t seem to do anything right?
Who cares! I couldn’t do anything wrong on the court.

My front yard garage became Rod Laver arena and I became the greatest Australian player since the stadium’s namesake every time I asked my dad to move the car out the way, provided he wasn’t sound asleep, in which case we called rain delays and hoped that weather would pass (I.e. my dad would get off the couch).

Back then I was going for the all-time male record of 15 grand slams (jeez how that’s changed) and I was allllllways fighting back from 2 sets to love down in the final, carrying an injury because apparently I had to also be the biggest badass in history while I did it.

Tennis never judged, she never laughed at me and my imagination. She egged me on! She added to it with every off bounce, with every solid contact with every stroke of my racket I painted the picture of happiness, me, dripping in sweat, a smile as wide as the great Australian bite and a mother at the doorway calling me to dinner for what she always claimed to be ‘the hundredth time boy!’

Tennis was everything to me.
I loved her and she loved me.
And I didn’t need anything else.

Now I’m aware of everything that’s happening in the world, and at this time, tennis is so close and yet so far.

But you have a wall, you have a court. You have a game that will open it’s armed to you and embrace you as an equal.

So, dear reader, my fellow tennis player.
It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time with a racket or whether you have hand-shaped grooves moulded into the damn things grip.
You can still have her around.
You may not have the same experience with the beautiful game (no not football) that I do. But you have a golden opportunity to get acquainted again and again and again.
All it takes is a ball and a little imagination.

Times may be tough, but trust me, tennis will be there for you, just like she was for me.
She can be your friend, your ally, your safe harbour. And god do I love her for it.

So does that explain it?
So if you’ll explain it, it’s 9 o’clock and I’ve got a night session match… I had to keep Fed waiting…

Thank you for reading,
I hope to talk again soon.

Cal