So the time had come to bite the bullet and get started with a racket sport for us all. With so many to choose from, such as tennis, badminton, squash and crossminton I was confused about where we should start and what would be the advantages for us as a family.
We all had very different skills and abilities when it came to overall fitness, but I knew that starting to play a racquet sport together would improve our health in general - and we would all be together which was important.
We decided that a few basic skills needed to be improved upon before we even got near a court of any description, didn't want the kids to have an embarrassing Mom!
This is the ability to be able to move quickly or change direction while keeping your body balanced and under control. The aim is for the movements to look effortless.
We can all improve our agility and I found a few exercises that had a positive impact on this.
Toss: Stand in a circle, raise one leg and toss a ball to each other. Try and aim slightly to the side of the catcher to make them stretch for the ball. Change legs and repeat. We had great fun with this game although playing with someone who is 6"1 is not always good. An added benefit was we all had to use both hands at times, this improved our grip in both hands and also helped with hand-eye coordination.
Ladder Drills: As we didn't have an ladder we could use for this we made one by using string and pegs. It was about 10 meters long and each space was about 50cm square. We ran through the ladder raising our arms and lifting our knees up as high as we could. As the kids are quite competitive they wanted it timed. This was not necessary but added more fun for them. As they got better they progressed to jumping to the sides of the ladder with alternate steps.
Cone Taps: This game was so much fun and is played just as the title suggests by tapping a cone with your foot! We all did this for 30 seconds at a time and did three sets of them each.
Of course we had to make it harder for
Dad so his cone was much bigger than ours.
Balance is the ability to control the body while moving also known as dynamic balance or while being still also known as static balance.
As with agility this is something we all needed to improve, us oldies more than the kids if I'm honest. We tried out a few games and I have included some of our favourites for you to try.
Crab Walk: This can be done several ways. Lie flat on your back with your arms beside you, bend your knees towards your hips and slightly raise your back up off the ground using your hands to balance. Start crab walking a measured distance, say 5 meters. You can reverse this technique by starting off lying on your stomach which I found easier. The kids as usual had to change things up a bit and had to do it like a crab and walk sideways.
Twister: We all know and love this game and it can be played outdoors which adds to the health benefits while improving overall balance.
This is the ability to move the hands which are guided by the eyes to catch, hit or grip an object. As we wanted to play a racquet sport what better way to improve our skills while at home than to use a swingball set for improving hand-eye coordination. We found this a brilliant way for us to get used to holding a racquet and hitting a ball without having to spend all our time constantly picking up a ball.
So having spent a few weeks on all these games our agility, balance and co-ordination had all improved and we were ready for the next step. To be honest most of these games are all-rounders and would be good as a starting point for many different sports.
We started with the big favorite - Tennis. Have a look at how we got started in our beginners guide to tennis.
I hope you found this article helpful and if you have a game you think we could try please leave a comment below as we are always looking for new things to try.
Common Injuries in Racquet Sports:Prevention and Treatment
Squash: Court Sense and Common Sense for Beginners
Badminton – Scoring and Laws
Parts of a Tennis Racquet: Detailed Description and Diagram
Checklist For Choosing A Tennis Racquet
Tennis Courts: Dimensions and Playing Surfaces
Tennis Grips-A Short Overview
Tennis Warm-Ups for Beginners