Many accomplished players start tennis at an early age, while some begin their journeys in the latter stages of the pathway and also pursue college tennis to allow more time to develop holistically. No matter when you enter the sport, there is a path for you to enjoy playing tennis for life. 

The equipment needed for red court tennis includes: 

  • Ball: oversize, high-density foam (or red) ball 
  • Racquet size: 19”-21” 

The basic rules for red court tennis are: 

  • Games to 11, 15, or 21 are generally recommended.  
  • The server has two chances to put the ball in play.  
  • The first chance is overhead and the second can be underhand.  
  • The serve can land anywhere in the opponent’s court. 

The equipment needed for orange court tennis includes:  

  • Ball: low-compression balls (orange) 
  • Racquet size: 23” 

Full-court tennis rules should be applied. 

The equipment needed for green court tennis includes:  

  • Ball: low-compression balls (e.g. Wilson Easy Play) 
  • Racquet size: 23-25” 

Full-court tennis rules should be applied. 

Rogers First Set adopts the “progressive tennis” approach (red, orange, and green) through which participants play, develop, and compete with the appropriate racquet and balls, on the right-size court.  

The proportional equipment supports the size of younger athletes and helps in the overall development of the sport’s key fundamentals. The fun and early experiences fostered through Rogers First Set will also encourage players to continue in the sport over time. 

Using this approach, players will acquire quickly the fundamental skills to serve, rally and score. 

The court size is proportional to the young player’s size. This assists them in developing an “all-court” game by ensuring realistic court coverage. The proportional court size will allow youth to develop tactics similar to the advanced ones they will adopt on a full court when they get older. For example, young players will be able to come to the net because of the shorter distance and narrower sidelines they need to cover. 

The progressive ball moves through the court slower and bounces lower. Young players are able to receive and project the ball more easily which aids in the development of proper technical fundamentals (grip, set-up, impact point, hitting zone, and recovery). Use of the progressive ball also promotes longer rallies and the overall importance of consistency. 

This aspect is one of the most crucial and often ignored. The proper racquet size (length and weight) will ensure racquet head control, stability, and feel for the ball which are the most important factors in ball control. It will also help prevent future injuries from the use of oversized racquets. 

The general goal for young players is to train and play full-sized courts by 9 years old with the green ball. Once the player is accustomed to the full court size with the green ball, they will then be able to move on to use regular tennis balls. There are multiple factors that need to be considered when trying to determine when a player is ready to play on a full court with regular balls. These include; athleticism, maturation rates, number of hours of training and competing, overall commitment to the sport, ability to learn and competitive results. As a result of these factors, a small group of children may be capable of progressing faster. 

There is no one way to develop a tennis player, but Tennis Canada believes the development of a young player through Rogers First Set will provide them with the means to properly establish the fundamental skills and tactics essential for long-term success on the full court. 

Competition teaches many aspects of the game that cannot be learned in training. Hence, regular match play, both in tournaments and practice, is an essential part of a young player’s development. Regular competition will help develop mental skills such as: 

  • Incorporating technical fundamentals into match play. 
  • The ability to focus. 
  • Consistent effort and determination. 
  • Learning to cope with basic competitive environments. 
  • Learning emotional control and maintaining a positive attitude. 
  • Learning to display good sportsmanship. 
  • Developing and understanding the love of competing. 
  • Fostering the concept of respect for coaches, officials and other players. 

Selection of competition should ideally be based on achieving a 3:1 win-loss ratio over a period of time. This ensures both the development of confidence (through winning) while still maintaining motivation to improve and train hard (through losing). In general, it is recommended that juniors compete in their proper age category and only “play up” if they are winning tournaments easily and have exhausted the competition in their age category. 

Tennis Canada, along with the Provincial and Territorial Tennis Associations, has created a series of sanctioned tournaments that will allow young players to compete in the same environment in which they train. There are both U9 Advanced Tour events (orange court) and U10 Kids (green court) sanctioned events. It is also recommended that all programs offering half-court tennis implement a competitive element to provide regular competition for young players. Contact your Provincial or Territorial Tennis Association for further information and the dates of these events. 

For many years, European countries such as France and Belgium used very similar programing to Rogers First Set to develop players, many of whom are on the professional tours today. In recent years, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) along with more than 45 countries in Europe, North America and others have adopted the same approach as Rogers First Set, which is now generally accepted as the best means for developing young players. Also, many other sports such as baseball, soccer, and golf have been using the same scaled down approach to develop their young athletes for many years. 

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