Which racquet and ball should children use?

Given the range of tennis racquets and different types of balls now available to children, have you wondered which combination of racquet & ball produces the best performance?

The study

A study was conducted that assessed the influence of various racquet and ball combinations on children’s forehand performance. Children were  to play 7 forehands to a target using either a 19″ racquet, a 23″ racquet or a 27″ racquet, in combination with either a “red” ball (25% compression of a standard ball), a “green” ball (75% compression of a standard ball), or a “yellow” ball (a standard tennis ball). Hence there were 9 racquet and ball combinations.

Hitting performance

Results showed that hitting accuracy was far superior when the equipment was scaled, with best results appearing for 19″ racquet and red ball combination.

Racquet & ball combinations (hitting performance)

Hitting technique

With regards to hitting technique, it was apparent that the red ball afforded children more time to strike the ball out in front of their body and also with a low-to-high swing. Certainly both of these are desirable characteristics of the forehand technique.

Racquet & ball combinations (hitting technique) 1

The “red” ball resulted in more shots where the ball was struck in front & to the side of the body, & with a low-to-swing.

Recommendations

Coaches are encouraged to scale equipment appropriately for children to allow optimal performance to emerge.

Reference

Buszard, T., Farrow, D., Reid, M., & Masters, R. S. (2014). Modifying equipment in early skill development: A tennis perspective. Research quarterly for exercise and sport, 85(2), 218-225.
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