Creating A Tennis Diet Plan for Kids

A key element of sports performance is the athlete’s diet, for professionals and amateurs alike. For children playing sports like tennis, having a good diet plan from an early age will help embed a healthy and balanced diet throughout life. A good diet plan will not only help with fitness levels, it can also be important to help build high levels of stamina for matches. Professional athletes employ nutritionists to advise them on their diet because they know how big an impact it has on their results.

Most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to pay a diet specialist but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still create a really good diet plan yourself. One of the biggest issues with diet plans for kids is that they are often a bit fussier about what they will eat. So half of the challenge is developing a diet plan that not only works but is also appealing to them. Getting vegetables into kids’ diets is a difficult task that many parents struggle with but there are ways of getting around this with a bit of creativity in the kitchen.

A good tennis diet plan will vary depending on the age and build of the young player and also the amount of activity that they are involved in. If they are training five times per week for three hours and playing a match each week, this will be very different to someone who trains for a few hours each week. So first of all, work out how many hours of tennis will be completed each week and factor in any other activities that they will be doing at school or elsewhere.

A Balanced Diet

A good source of energy is foods that are rich in carbohydrates such as whole grain pasta, bread, rice and starchy vegetables. The amount should be calculated based on the calories consumed, so children with high levels of activity throughout the week will need more carbohydrates to keep them well fuelled for tennis matches and training.

A healthy meal should include a large proportion of veg (30-40%), around a quarter of the meal should be made up with whole grains and another quarter should be healthy proteins such as lean meat/fish. The rest of the meal should include fruits and some healthy oils. In terms of liquids, avoid sugar-filled drinks and limit milk and juice. Water is the best option but isn’t always the drink favored by children so adding natural flavorings are the healthy way to make water a bit more interesting. You can add berries, for example, to give it some extra flavor but without the additives and sugars in many other drinks.

Tailored to Activities

Another factor to consider in regards to children’s diets is that pre-match meals should vary from everyday meals. If there is a tennis match that could go on for three hours as an example, they will need more fuel than they would for a one-hour training session. Experts suggest that you eat a high protein meal the night before a match and eat a light, high carbohydrate meal a few hours before the match.

Diet Diary

You should create a diet diary to keep track of what is being consumed and to monitor the effects of diet variances. For example, if the player feels low on energy in a particular match, you can check for any dietary problems that they need to avoid for the following match. Keeping a diary can sound boring for many kids but with fun apps that provide incentives for recording diet data, it can be more appealing to the technology savvy youth!

Some of the apps even tell you the proportions of food that you have had and you can set a personal diet plan. Instead of needing to laboriously enter data, you can simply scan a barcode and it brings up all of the nutritional information, so recording diet data doesn’t have to take up much time.

Match Foods

A lot of children take what are labeled as energy drinks and energy chocolate bars to give them an energy boost in games but whilst they give a quick boost, they do not provide as much benefit as bananas. There is a reason all of the pros use their breaks to eat a banana – because it works!

Tennis Training Drills for One Person

When you do not have a training partner but still need to put in the work to keep in shape or develop your tennis skills, you have to get a little bit creative with your drills.

The fitness elements are more straightforward to complete as an individual but the on-court drills are more difficult to do alone.

If you have the luxury of a court and all the equipment you could need then solo drills are easy but not many people do have all the expensive gear.

However, there are plenty of drills that you can incorporate into individual training that will help you to progress with your tennis training, such as:

Practicing volleys off a wall

Whilst returning volleys from a wall will not replicate the exact ball direction that you might receive from an opponent, it is still a great way of sharpening up your reflexes and speeding up your reaction time.

So hit a ball against the wall and repeatedly return it. You can practice doing it whilst allowing the ball to bounce or practice a direct volley from the wall.

As well as helping with your racquet work, this is also really good for improving your footwork/foot speed.

Serving on a court or marked area

If you have a free court to practice on but just no tennis partner then you can still spend time perfecting your serve. You can either bring a large volume of balls with you, or you can incorporate ball retrieval into your fitness training.

So for example, after hitting 10 serves run round to the other side to collect them all, making sure you are doing sprints to each ball in the way that you would move around the court during a game.

Then serve them to the other side and so on.

If you do not have a court, you can still mark out an area on grass or concrete to fire your serves at. Ideally you would set your area up somewhere near a wall or fence to keep the balls nearby.

Line-to-line shuttles

No racquet required for this drill, as you are working on your speed and endurance. If you are able to use a tennis court then you have your line markings ready to go.

You run from the sideline to the intersection line, touch the line and turn and run back to the sideline.

The next run is to the other sideline and back, then you repeat these shuttle runs.

It is a similar drill to the bleep test and you can keep doing this for as long as possible, trying to improve the number of shuttles each time you do this one.


A good way of improving your footwork is to use ladders.

In the old days people actually used wooden ladders that they lay on the floor for people to do this drill but now you can buy ladders made from lightweight materials.

So you lay the ladder along the floor and step into the first square with one foot and then the other.

You do the same for each square of the ladder until you get to the other side. For tennis, it is helpful to try doing this forwards, backwards and sideways.

You can run back round the edge of the ladder and do it again, or incorporate it into a circuit drill with a number of other drills.


Depending on your fitness and jumping ability, you can possibly use the net to perform sideways jumps from one side of the net to the other.

If you are not quite at that jumping level then you can practice using a smaller item but being able to jump is important in tennis and this drill can give you a good workout for developing your leg muscles.

You can also do it using a small wall or other surfaces to jump up onto the top off and then back down and repeat.

To make it replicate a match situation more closely, try and jump high on the spot hitting an imaginary ball rather than using anything to jump over or onto. This will help you to reach those high balls in match situations.

Why Are Tennis Ball Machines So Expensive? Are They Worth It?

When you want to improve your tennis game, there’s no substitute for practice, but how do you practice without a partner? One option is to whack the ball against a wall. Wall practice helps, but as you advance in skill, you’ll want something a little more challenging.

That’s where a tennis ball machine can come in very useful. Unfortunately, the best tennis ball machines are very expensive and even the cheapest ones will cost a fair whack. Why is that? Are they worth it?

Why are They Pricey?

These are specialist machines with complex moving parts and electronics. They usually come with a wide range of settings to allow you to practice at different speeds and to adjust the height and so forth. As a result, they work out a bit pricey.

Are They Worth the Price?

That’s something that’s going to depend on each player, so you’ll have to weigh the benefits to get an answer, which brings us to—

The Benefits of Tennis Ball Machine

+ You Have a Training Partner on Call

With tennis, the more you can train the better. A ball machine is there when you need to train, not just once or twice a week. This means that you can fit in a practice session whenever it suits you.

+ You Set the Terms

Another issue when you’re playing with a person is that you’re not in control of the situation. If you have specific drills that you want to practice, you need to get the other player’s buy-in. If they don’t want to practice the same drills, you’ll have to settle for what they will do.

With a ball machine, you set the timing, speed, and so forth. So, you get to control every aspect of your practice session.

+ Consistency

Another issue when playing with a human partner is that they’re not going to be as consistent with their shots. Your partner is bound to get bored if they’re lobbing the same shots repeatedly. That’s assuming that they’re capable of replicating every shot every time.

With a machine, you don’t have to worry about that. It’s never going to get bored and will always be consistent.

+ You Can Advance at Your Own Pace

Playing with a more advanced partner is going to help you improve your playing, but you’re not going to have much control over how the session goes. With a ball machine, you can ensure that the settings are exactly to your liking.

If you have a good machine, you can practice hitting balls with a backspin, topspin, at different speeds, and so on. You get to advance at a comfortable pace for you without having to worry about keeping up with a much more advanced player.

+ You Can Focus on the Correct Form

Muscle memory is one of a tennis player’s best friends. The more you can practice repetitive shots; the more your muscles will get used to them. Over time, your body will learn to react instinctively to these shots.

That means faster reaction time for you and an overall improvement in your game.

There is a caveat here, though. Making sure that you’ve got the right form is important. That’s why it might be best to practice with a coach before you start practicing on your own. You don’t want to learn and reinforce bad habits.

Correcting your technique at a later stage is going to be hard, so make sure you’re getting it right from day one.

Cons of a Tennis Ball Machine

Overall, there are a lot more pros than cons. To make an informed decision for yourself, though, you need to take the cons into account as well.

– Cost

Your average tennis ball machine cost starts at around about $500 for a very basic model. More advanced machines can set you back a few thousand dollars. To get a decent machine, with the basic features that make the purchase worthwhile, you’re looking at least $1,000 to $1,500.

Now, we know that tennis is not the cheapest hobby, but this cost may be prohibitive for some people.

You also need to factor in the cost of the balls that you’ll be using. The more you practice, the more often you’ll need to get new balls.  Pressureless balls will last longer. They’ll outlast the others but tend to bounce more so that’ll have to be considered.

– You’ll Need the Space

Ideally, you should have a full-sized tennis court to play on. If you’ve got one at home, that’s great, but what if you don’t?

You can choose a portable model, but even the portable models are s heavy and somewhat ungainly.  You’d have to figure out how to transport the machine to your practice area. Generally speaking, your best option is to use it at home.

– You’ll Have to Tidy Up Afterwards

While it’s fun to hit the balls, you’ll also have to go around afterward and collect them all.  This can be a pain. Hoppers can make the task easier as they allow you to pick up the balls without bending. That does, however, add to the cost of having the machine.

– You Could Learn Bad Habits

One big downside is that you could be practicing bad habits. There’s no one there to check your form. That’s why it’s best to get a good grounding before you start taking on the ball machine.

Final Notes

There is no question that a ball machine can be a useful tool for the player that needs to get in more practice. It’s not going to be enough on its own, however. You also need to factor the cost of the machine into your equation.

Would it be a good purchase for you? That’s going to depend on how often you’re going to use it, and how much you want to improve your game. If you’re competing at a professional level, it will be a good investment in your future.

If you’re only going to use it once or twice a week, though, it would probably be a waste of money.

If you’re still undecided, speak to your local sports shop and see if you can rent a machine, or find out if there’s somewhere you can go to try one out. You may find that you don’t like playing with it after all.  At the end of the day, a tennis ball machine can be a valuable tool to help you improve your playing. If you use it properly, it could well prove worth the price.