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Little Hitters

"What a fantastic game tennis is for children! It teaches confidence, respect and integrity as well as a whole range of physical and technical challenges. Players will find all of these things in our brand new Little Hitters tennis programme" - Steve Cockell, Head Coach

The Annabel Croft Tennis Academy "Little Hitters" programme is a brand new programme that is being piloted at the academy from September 2014. Aimed at players aged 3-7 years and taking over from our original Mini Academy, Little Hitters aims to offer players a structured and inspiring learning environment that will help them take their first steps into the game of tennis. 

The Little Hitters programme is divided into 6 stages of learning based on a players level of play and age. Each block of learning is aimed at fitting into our 12-14 week term schedule although some players will take longer to move through the various sections of the programme. 

Please read below for further information on this exciting new part of the Annabel Croft Tennis Academy...


What is Little Hitters?

Little Hitters is the brand new programme aimed at players aged 3-7yrs. The programme has been designed by our Head Coach Steve Cockell and offers children a chance to get into the game of tennis and learn the key skill sets needed to play the game through the LTA's Mini Tennis structure (ages U8, U9 & U10). Steve has been working with this key age group for over 20 years and some of the features of good starter tennis programmes haven't changed. These are namely that children need to have a lot of fun on court, receive instructions from passionate and experienced coaches and understand the basic physical and technical skills that make playing tennis easier.

However, the development of the Little Hitters programme takes these concepts to the next level with Steve's understanding that players at this age also need to work harder on their physical skills with elements such as flexibility and strength becoming a priority and also stressing that the competitive and tactical elements of the game needs to be highlighted with children encouraged to play the game with the right level of confidence, creativity and respect for the game that they are playing.

As a result, the Little Hitters programme is divided into a weekly lesson plan for all age groups that focuses on 4 main areas of development:

Development Area Features          
A - Athleticism Balance, Agility, Speed, Strength, Footwork  
C - Coordination Catch & Throw, Ball Skills, Depth Perception
T - Technique & Tactics Swing Shapes, Stroke Development, Game Play
A - Attitude Confidence, Sportsmanship, Determination, Respect

Little Hitters - Stages of Learning

The Little Hitters tennis programme has been divided into 6 stages of learning making it easy for parents to track their child's progress within the programme. Each stage has been carefully designed to include specific exercises that help with players development as they get older and to introduce them to the various aspects of the game. Once a player passes each stage, they receive a certificate to reward them for their progress and are recommended to move on to the next stage of learning for the following term.

Class Categories Description of the class / Key Aims
Stage 1

Description: Learn about tennis for the first time, have fun on court, make tennis exciting and interesting to learn for very young players. 

Stage 1 players aim to:

  • Listen and follow coaches instructions
  • Run with balance 
  • Learn key tennis related footwork - side step, ready position
  • Catch big balls on the run
  • Trap ball with racquet
  • Make contact with ball on both sides of the body
  • Learn key tennis swing shapes
  • High 5 the ball at the net
  • Floor rally x 5 shots
  • Throw and aim at targets
  • Show good concentration for a 1 hour class
Stage 2 

Description: Introduction to key tennis shots and names, development of key ACTA focus points

Stage 2 players aim to:

  • Use the split step to keep balanced 
  • Move at different speeds and in different directions
  • Understand spaces
  • Hit coaches drop feed over the net on both sides
  • Make good contact with a bouncing ball
  • Show good understanding of f/hand and b/hand shapes and hand positions
  • Make contact with the ball above head
  • Play on their own or as part of a team
  • Floor rally x 10 with partner 
  • Respectful of the coach and helpful in class
Stage 3 

Description: To get players into an exchange of the ball, enhance key physical skills, understand the key elements of starting to play a game of tennis

Stage 3 players aim to:

  • Higher level of balance in their footwork using the agility ladder
  • Consistent split step before each shot
  • 10 ball throw and catch rally with tennis ball
  • Hit over the net from a variety of coaches feeds
  • Direct throws and basic hits into spaces
  • Good judgement of varying flight of the ball
  • Choose to hit the ball without bouncing 
  • Understand the basics of serve and return 
  • Confident in a 5-10 shot rally with the coach 
Stage 4 

Description: Develop good technique, playing with a partner and keeping the ball under control

Stage 4 players aim to:

  • Cover the whole court with balance at higher speeds
  • Show strength and suppleness in a range of key positions
  • Comfortable in a variety of throwing and catching situations
  • Keep track of the number shots in a rally
  • Clearly understand the rules of the game and call In and Out
  • Hit a sequence of shots into spaces
  • Development of a full service action 
  • 5-10 shot rally with a partner over the net (Qualify for LTA Red 5 Badge)
  • 10-20 shot rally with the coach over the net
  • Understand different swing shapes from volley to smash 
Stage 5 

Description: To get players into competitive game play, enhance technique and range of shots, begin to learn key academy hitting drills 

Stage 5 players aim to:

  • Change direction quickly, advanced footwork skills,
  • Understand warming up for matches 
  • Control the swing shapes of their racquet consistently
  • Understand that they are starting to compete at tennis
  • Advanced level of technical skills including grip changes
  • 10-15 shot rally with another player (LTA Red 10 Badge)
  • Play shots from all areas of the court with confidence
  • Serve consistently over the net and into the service boxes
  • Show an interest in tennis outside of class 
  • Understand the more advanced rules of the game
Stage 6 

Description: To get players confident at playing a scoring tennis game independently

Stage 6 players aim to:

  • Show high level of athletic ability
  • Complete key ACTA coaches drills
  • Understand how to play tactically in a game against an opponent
  • Show a desire to win but an understanding of how to lose
  • Serve and return with consistency 
  • 20 shot rally with another player (LTA Red 20 Badge)
  • Score a tie-break format match (10 points) independently

All bookings for Annabel Croft Tennis Academy (UK) will be handled by Claire Lewis Cole

Email: claire@annabelcrofttennis.com

Call: 0203 170 8393

Opening hours (all times GMT)
Monday - Friday 8.30am - 6.00pm
Saturdays Closed
Sundays and UK Bank Holidays Closed

Company Address

Annabel Croft Tennis Holidays
20 Mortlake High Street, Mortlake, London, SW14 8JN