A childhood illness kept me indoors for most of my elementary school years. I read. I wrote stories. But I missed the chance to experience the thrill, camaraderie, and teamwork of organized sports.
As a mom, I want for my children what I missed. And because “Midtown” and “Tennis” go together like “Snow” and “Rochester,” I thought this would be the perfect place to start their experience with sports.
In September, my four-year-old daughter entered the phenomenal Junior Tennis program. Peggy Schuster coached her Level 7 group lessons, designed for the preschool set.
Her nine-week lesson experience was, in a word, awesome. So much so that she’s now several weeks into another session of lessons.
Want to know why her lessons rocked?
Here are 7 Things You Need to Know About Level 7 Tennis at Midtown
1. The Lessons are 110% Designed Around Fun
Don’t get me wrong. The kids are learning the fundamentals of the game, including how to hold the racket, the different parts of the court, and how to correctly position their fidgety little bodies, but everything Coach Peggy does with the kids is centered around them having a blast. The drills have kid-friendly names, incorporate fun props like plastic dome hats to help with balance and cones for catching balls. The lessons are designed to teach kids how to play via a series of creative games.
2. Peggy Schuster has the Patience of a Saint
Trust me on this one. I’m Catholic and I know my saints. Level 7 tennis is for 3-and-4-year-olds, hardly the most attentive, easily directed, and focused age group to work with. But Peggy is the picture of patience. Sometimes the kids, my daughter included, are silly, goofy, and distracted. Peggy never loses her cool, talks to them on their level, and through some form of magical tennis pro power is able to bring them back into the lesson with a smoothness and ease she should package onto a DVD and sell for $29.99 to parents of preschoolers everywhere.
3. Your Child is Made to Feel Important and Safe
My daughter had a great start to her lessons. She went to the first two excited, happy, and fully engaged. And then something went awry in her little brain.
Suddenly, she no longer wanted to go to her lessons. She cried after walking onto the court for the third lesson. We had to leave. She refused to get into the car to go to her fourth lesson. She never gave a reason for not wanting to go. After a two-week hiatus, she agreed to return.
Coach Peggy welcomed her back. She placed a mesh dot used in some of the drills in one corner of the court and told my daughter that that was her safe place. If she was worried or felt sad, she could go to that dot and feel safe. She never needed to use the dot, but the special attention Coach Peggy paid my daughter made a difference. She finished out the remaining five weeks of lessons without feeling upset again.
4. Lots of Effort is Invested in Planning the Lessons
My daughter is only four, so I don’t yet have a lot of experience with organized sports lessons or practices. But if they’re all organized and executed like the junior tennis lessons at the club, I would be thrilled. It’s obvious that Peggy invests a lot of time into planning the lessons. The energy level is always high. The kids are constantly moving, and one game or drill is always followed quickly by the next, to minimize distraction and keep the kids engaged.
5. Creative Drills Turn Lessons Into Games
All the warm-up activities and drills have great names such as “Sharks in the Water,” a balance drill where rackets placed in center court are the “sharks” and the kids follow Coach Peggy along the lines with small plastic domes on their heads and attempt to stay out of the “water”). Other fun drills include “Lobster Claws,” “Cleaning House,” and “Spaghetti and Meatballs.”
The kids also run obstacle courses designed to practice split steps and correct body positioning.
6. Teamwork is Tops
While my daughter has attended camps and classes before, this is her first foray into sports lessons. Coach Peggy places a lot of emphasis on teamwork, a new concept for my four-year-old. The kids are often paired together for drills, they gather in a group to go over new games, and they always form a team huddle together at the end of each lesson, where the kids place their hands in a pile, one kid chooses “the word of the day,” and they shout, ”1-2-3 snowflakes” (or “ice cream” or “Superman”, etc.).
7. Your Child Will Improve
I will admit to being a skeptic about this one. My daughter would much rather glue macaroni to sheets of construction paper than race her bike down the street. She was not enrolled in Soccer for Babies. She’s not a natural athlete.
But she’s now able to hit the ball on a bounce. She can engage in a short rally with another player, and she knows the “ready” position. Her balance and agility are greater than when she started, and she’s able to keep her body positioned correctly most of the time. I can’t wait to see what she’ll learn next.
I am very impressed with what my daughter has experienced in her lessons. It’s easy to see why Junior Tennis at Midtown is so popular. It’s a professional, creative, well-run program designed to encourage interest in a great sport. Peggy Schuster is amazing with the kids, and my daughter adores her, often bringing her pictures she’s drawn for her.
I could not have asked for a better first experience with sports for my preschooler.
Do you have kids enrolled in Junior Tennis at Midtown? What do you think of the program?