How to Teach Tennis in PE: Group & Competition Phase

Planning a PE Tennis Lesson Plan: Ages 6-10

This post is part of the ‘Teaching Tennis in PE’ series. Here are all a list of the posts from this series;

Phase #1: Introduction

Phase #2: Warm Up

Phase #3: Individual Drill

Phase #4: Paired Drill

Phase #5: Group Activity (You Are Here!)

Phase #6: Wrap Up (You Are Here!)

Phase #7: Evaluation

Main Lesson Content Phase: Group / Competition (Phase #5)

The whole idea behind this last phase is to ensure you re-enforce everything learned in the previous two phases, with an emphasis on competition and fun.

The simplest and most effective way to nail this part of your lesson is to split them up into larger groups of 4-8 per group.

Now you have choice, on whether to do a whole class competition OR do a mini-competition within each group.

The answer to this again depends on all sorts of variables such as space available, the energy in your lesson and the overall behaviour of the class throughout the lesson and so on.

For example, if you lesson has been a little flat (we all have them!) then ending on a competition or game that involves the whole class working in smaller groups might end the lesson on a high note.

However, if the behaviour of the class has been less than acceptable then having a fun game might send out the wrong signals for next week’s lesson.

This all comes down to trusting your own instinct – and with time you’ll be able to make better decisions.

Coaching Points & Progressions

Usually within a school environment you won’t need to keep stopping and starting the lesson to make sure each child is using the coaching points taught to them in the main part.

You should try and let the class ‘discover and recover’ themselves. Let them make mistakes and see if they can identify and improve themselves.

You can ask questions to individuals as you make your way round the groups, but allowing each child a little bit of freedom to make mistakes and enjoy the lesson at the same time.

Wrap Up (Phase #6)

This is where you ultimately see how much they understand what you’ve taught them. There are various methods to gaining feedback from individual and the class as a whole – you just need to work out what works best with what group.

As a rule of thumb, asking 4-6 questions at the end to the whole class would be a good place to start. You might find yourself needing to ‘pull’ the answers out of the group by giving them clues.

Another stance to take would be for them to discuss briefly in their smaller groups the answers to your questions and for each group to give an answer. Using this method, allow the quiter individuals in the class to get involved more than if it was a whole class question & answer.

What questions should I ask?

Start with asking questions about the warm up, then the individual stage, the partner phase and finally a question or two from the group & competition section of your lesson.

If you only asked one question from each phase of your lesson plan, you’d already have four questions planned!

Points to Remember:

  • Your games should mimic what they’ve learned in the main part of the lesson
  • Trust your instinct
  • Remember to recap what they’ve learned at the end

How to Teach Tennis in PE: Partner Phase

Planning a PE Tennis Lesson Plan: Ages 6-10

This post is part of the ‘Teaching Tennis in PE’ series. Here are all a list of the posts from this series;

Phase #1: Introduction

Phase #2: Warm Up

Phase #3: Individual Drill

Phase #4: Paired Drill (You Are Here!)

Phase #5: Group Activity

Phase #6: Wrap Up

Phase #7: Evaluation


Main Lesson Content Phase: Partner Drill (Phase #4)

If you remember we ended the last part of the lesson with a peer assessment. This not only gets the children to assess each other’s work, but it also builds a foundation for the next part of the lesson – which we are going to go into detail about in this post.

Phase #4 focuses on building upon the technique the learned in the previous phase but this time they will be working with a partner.

First and foremost, when you get to this phase you need to already know how you’re going to partner the class up.

If you get this right, then your lesson will be far easier to control and will run a lot smoothly than random children being put with each other.

As we discussed in the introduction phase of the lesson, there are a few ways to pair children up. I typically like to either pair either one of two ways depending on how well I know the class and individuals to what their ability is.

  1. Children are paired up based upon their behaviour

Depending on how you would like you lesson to run you can do this one of two ways;

  1. Pair a well behaved child with a not so well behaved child together
  2. OR, pair two well behaved children together and two not so well behaved children together and give them their own space to work in.

Each way has its own advantages and disadvantages, you just need to find out which way feels most comfortable with you.

  1. Children are paired up based upon ability

Using this method is great way to get the class working together. What you may also find as well is, that the least well behaved children sometimes end up being the individuals with a higher ability.

So by pairing those up with somebody who needs help you’re giving them some sense of responsibility. I wouldn’t recommend splitting the class into 2; one really good groups and one not so good group – this will give off the wrong signal to the class.

If you’re going to split them into ability groups, I would recommend a few smaller groups to make it less obvious – children are a lot smarter than they come across sometimes!

What Method Should You Choose?

Again, it all depends on the dynamics of the group, and other variables that come into play (environment, time etc).

However, as a rule of thumb I usually use the behaviour split for younger age groups (6-9 years old) as they can tend to be harder to control and the ability split for older age (9-11 years old).

If you choose the behaviour split, then I suggest starting identifying the less well behaved individuals from the moment they step into your lesson.

The ability split can be done within the individual phase.

Of course if you already know the group, then this should all be a lot easier.

So you’ve got the group into pairs, what next?

Progressions & Coaching Points

We went into detail on progressions and coaching points in the last post, so if you haven’t read that post then you can quickly get up to speed here.

The progressions in the partner phase will be slightly different to those in the individual phase. However, the coaching points will be largely the same, with maybe 1 or 2 extra points.

                               Example Progression

Let’s say for instance you’re topic for the lesson is Court Targets. In the individual phase you may have then jogging round rolling, bouncing and throwing the ball into different areas around the court.

In the partner phase you might start with an over arm throw, then move onto underarm serve using a racket, then finally for the last progression have them competitively trying to win points off each other.

Coaching Points

Using the same example above, your coaching points would be largely the same; get in a ready position, identify the space, get in position to direct the ball into the space etc.

However, you may add in a coaching point about being aware of the other players standing position for example – something you can’t do effectively when their working on their own.


Again, as you’re teaching a class in a school environment the ability range could be huge, so always plan some sort of regression to have all children engaged.

How Many Progressions and Coaching Points?

Again, to keep it simple but effective aim for 3 progressions and around 6 coaching points.

For some, 3 progressions might be too much – read the class and the individuals and base your decision around what you feel comfortable with and what’s best for the development of the children.

Peer Assessment

Just like the last phase, peer assessment can be used to get them to give feedback to each other but also set the foundations for the next phase – the group / competition activity.

I would always decide on whether or not to use this step depending on how much time I had left within the lesson.

Points to Remember

  • Always support your verbal instructions with a demonstration
  • You may want to use the children to further support your demo’s
  • Get pairs to show what they’ve learned in front of the class
  • Get feedback before moving onto the next phase of the lesson

Teaching Tennis in PE: Individual Phase Structure

Planning an Effective PE Tennis Lesson: Ages 6-10

In this PE Tennis Lesson Plan series I am showing how you can plan the perfect lesson plan for your class.

There are 7 phases to planning a net & wall lesson;

Phase #1: Introduction

Phase #2: PE Tennis Warm Up

Phase #3: Individual Drill (You Are Here!)

Phase #4: Paired Drill

Phase #5: Group Activity

Phase #6: Wrap Up

Phase #7: Evaluation

Phase #2 Recap

In the tennis warm up phase, we looked at how to structure our warm up based on the physical and mental side of taking part in sport.

Once we had them focused with a few questions on the health and fitness side of tennis, we then moved onto the physical side of the warm up.

This consisted of three areas; General, Tennis Specific and finally Lesson Specific.

We then had the optional section of doing a warm up game, and we discussed when and why you would use a tennis warm up game for school kids.

If you haven’t read the ‘Planning a PE Tennis Warm Up for School Children’ post yet then I highly recommend you check it out here first before reading this post.

If you’re up to date, then great! In this post we are going to talk about the individual phase of a PE Tennis Lesson plan.

Main Lesson Content Phase: Individual Drill (Phase #3)

As with the previous phase, in the individual phase we will break it down in to further sub phases.

First and foremost we need to understand what we are trying to achieve.

The individual phase is all about allowing the child to practise and discover on their own without the distraction of having a partner.

This allows them to make mistakes, learn and improve whilst maintaining focus.

As with all classes in schools, there is a good chance there will huge range of ability amongst the children in your class, so being able to cater for those children who are excelling as well as catering for those who are struggling is the key here.

You’ll do this through either progressing or regressing the skill or technique you’re trying to teach.

Progressing a Tennis Skill or Technique

Progressing as the name suggests is when you make the tennis technique or skill harder. So, for example;

Lesson Topic: Ball and Racket Familiarisation

Activity: Throwing and catching variations with ball

Progression: Throwing and catching variations with ball and racket

You could introduce a progression early in a lesson for some individuals if they are finding some bits too easy.

Regressing a Tennis skill or Technique

When you regress the skill or technique you’re making it slightly easier. So for example if we use the same topic and scenario as before;

Activity: Throwing and catching with same hand

Regression: Throwing and catching with two hands.

That, example is probably the basic of all but you get the point. You would regress the skill or technique if any child was finding it hard.

How many times should you progress or regress a session?

There is a huge debate to how many times you should progress or regress a lesson. I typically plan for three progressions and two regressions.

This allows you to progress the lesson to a point that is achievable by the majority of the class, but also allows you also be prepared to support a child who may be struggling.

The chances of using two regressions in a lesson are very rare but to be extra on top of your game it wouldn’t harm to plan for two.


Coaching Points

Within these two sub phases you will of course be developing their technique by using key coaching points.

The amount of coaching points you use for your lessons will depend on variables such as; ability, focus, behaviour, time and of course the complexity of the technique your coaching. So, for me to give you a concrete number on the amount of coaching points you need to use would be foolish.

However, in keeping things simple yet effective when it comes to your coaching aiming for around 6 coaching points should be okay for most lessons. Just remember that there is no real concrete number!

You could split the progressions and coaching points evenly;

  1. 2 coaching points – Progression #1
  2. 2 coaching points = Progression #2
  3. 2 Coaching points – Progression #3

Peer Assessment

As you will see in the partner phase, the peer assessment allows you to provide a positive learning environment in your lesson but also helps support a smooth transition in your lesson from the individual phase to the partner phase.

An easy way to do this is to get them in pairs and have each child perform the technique they’ve already learned in front of another child. The child that is not performing the technique will give constructive feedback.

I usually like to get them to give one positive, and one improvement that can be made.

After a few minutes, sit them down and pick out 2 or 3 pairs and get them to present there feedback to the rest of the class.

Points to Remember

  • Always demonstrate what you are trying to teach
  • After each progression get a child to stand up in front of the rest of the class and demo the technique they’ve been learning

How to Structure & Deliver a PE Tennis Warm Up

Ages 6-10 Years Old Warm Up:

So you need a warm up for your next PE tennis lesson plan? Well in this tennis lesson plan series, I’m not only going to give you a session you can use, but my main aim is far more than that.

Instead of just giving you a lesson plan that you can follow, I am going to show you how to create your very own tennis lesson plan using a simple template.

In this series the template you will be following will use this structure;

Phase #1: Introduction

Phase #2: Warm Up (You Are Here!)

Phase #3: Individual Drill

Phase #4: Paired Drill

Phase #5: Group Activity

Phase #6: Wrap Up

Phase #7: Evaluation

Phase #1: Warm Up

As coaches we should all know the benefits a warm up brings to a child both physically and mentally – and the children should be reminded of that!

Tennis Warm Up: Mental Warm Up

A lot of coaches and teachers forget about the psychological factors that go into the session. While it’s obvious your not going to be teaching them a unit out of sports psychology book it’s important to get the kids to understand the basics of being in a good mental state before playing.

This would happen right after you have laid down the session ground rules and what you expectations of the class are. To keep it as easy as possible for yourself, I strongly recommend you keep them seated – this just allows you to command the class a little better.

This can be done in a question and answer format, or it could involve them in other games such as colour coding games and number sequences.

How many questions and what should you ask?

This is entirely up to you but I normally aim for about four questions. I’ll ask them questions such as;

  1. How do we warm up?
  2. Why should we warm up?
  3. When do we warm up?
  4. What happens when we warm up?

Of course some of these questions may be a little too easy for say 10 year olds, so you would need to adapt the questions accordingly to the group you’re coaching. Try variations such as;

  1. You will be learning about the forehand technique today, what warm up exercises do you think would be specific to what we’re learning about?
  2. What happens to our blood when we start to warm up?

This would typically last less than a minute but it’s a great way to get the children engaged from the start.

Structuring Your Tennis Warm Up

Next you need to structure the physical side of your warm up. The best way I have found through a lot of trial and error is splitting the warm up into three sections with an optional fourth based on your group;

  • General Warm Up

This would involve using big muscle groups. Lots of circular movements with the arms, high knees, sprints etc.

  • Sports Specific

Now you need to get a little bit more specific to tennis. Forward, backward and sideward lunges are a good place to start. You can even add in some forehand movements to the lunges as well.

  • Lesson Specific

Now it’s time to get ultra specific. This would be the time to use either a ball or a racket or even a combination of the two.

Optional Fourth Warm Up Phase: Warm Up Game

Ideally this would be closely related to the topic or technique you’ll be teaching in your main session, however as I have previously mentioned before, warm up’s have different benefits other than physical.

Using a warm up game that may not be that closely related, but requires the class to focus and ticks the FUN box maybe suitable to calm a group down after lunch-time for instance.

Whether you use the game before or after the 3 sections above is entirely up to you.

Example Warm Up Game # 1: Bounce!

This game involves getting the class to bounce the ball in lots of different ways. They can use their hands and racket using various techniques.

To make it more competitive, you can give them a set amount time to complete a certain amount of bounces without losing control of the ball.

Example Warm Up Game #2: Scarecrows

This game focuses more on rotation and balance.

Players stand facing the net – this is north. The baseline is south and the two sidelines are east and west.

When you shout out the command, first the foot and then the direction, players must jump off that foot and rotate to the direction you called.

So for example you may shout out ‘Right – East!’ – Each player would have to jump off their right foot and face the east baseline.

Players that lose balance have to run around the whole court before being allowed to go again.

And that’s it! The length of your warm up will depend on the length of time you have available and the ability, focus levels and other things you will have to read from the group on the day.


So just to recap what we went through;

Split your warm up into 2 Sub Phases:

  1. Mental Warm Up
  2. Physical Warm Up

In the first stage, you can ask them questions to test their knowledge, or have them take part in games that forces them to think.

The physical side of the warm up is split further into three sections with an optional fourth;

  1. General: Involves large muscle groups
  2. Tennis Specific: Involves more tennis specific movements
  3. Lesson Specific: Involves specific exercises and movements mimicking the lesson you are about to teach.
  4. Optional – Warm Up Game: Optional game to reinforce warm up exercises or to focus class on the lesson.

Once you have these all in the place you ready to move forward and start planning the main part of your session.

As we planning a session for a group of school children, the likely hood of us having 20+ children in one class is high, so we will need to adapt our sessions accordingly which you will learn more about in the next section: Individual.


7 Highly Important Safety Considerations When Teaching PE

Regardless of where you work, or what industry you work in, you will generally find a well-documented Health & Safety procedure that has been established to not only meet legislation requirements but actually do something useful and protect teachers AND their students from injury.

Unlike Classroom based classes where the hazards are relatively small in number, those teachers who specialize in the Physical Education (PE) have an ever present safety risk, before, during AND after the actual class.

Here are 7 considerations that can help PE Teachers and their classes be safe

Equipment Storage

Your typical P.E. class usually starts out with the setting up of the equipment.  This right here represents an ever present risk to the safety of your students.

The Storage of PE Equipment should not be taken for granted. There are a few steps you can take to ensure that no injuries occur at this stage:

  1. Heavier Items stored at Low Levels
  • Reduces the risk of being struck on the head if something falls from above


  1. Ensure Walkways are clear
    • With eyes usually on the equipment you are after, it can be easy to ignore ground hazards. But one false step could see a student trip and injure themselves and others.  You’d hate for them to bump something that causes items to crash down on them
  1. Overcrowding
    • There’s no need to send the whole class in to fetch equipment. The more bodies in the crowded space, the more confusion that can occur.  Students can easily get distracted in a group.  Have only enough students fetch the equipment that is needed for the lesson

The same applies to the end of the class when items are being returned to where they were taken

Faulty Equipment

Things don’t last forever!  Sports Equipment can deteriorate over time under normal conditions, but are also susceptible to problems at any time due to overuse or being misused in previous lessons.   Equipment should be regularly checked for faults so that they can be identified BEFORE an incident occurs. That loose backboard can come crashing down. When you identify it. Fix it. It ‘won’t be right’

First Aid

Is your First Aid Kit up to date? Do you even know where it is?.   It’s important that regular stock take of the First Aid Box is undertaken.  If you need to use items from it, then document it, and arrange for replacements soon after.   Make sure you are aware of the required protocol for contacting emergency services and administering First Aid

Proper Clothing

It’s long been advised to remove all loose jewellery and belts before the class starts as they can actually lead to injury.   Additionally, if the particular sport you are instructing that day requires any specific safety gear, ensure they are used

Examples include

  • Shin guards if playing Soccer or Field Hockey
  • Rubber soled shoes to avoid slippages and ankle injuries


Stretching & Warmups

It’s easy to injure cold muscles.  That is why professional athletes do a thorough warm up before competing, and why competitors at ALL levels perform simple stretching exercises before working out.  Your class should be no different.  Start off with a few stretches and some light physical activity before you kick your lesson into full gear. Be sure to allow time at the end of the lesson to properly ‘cool down’ and stretch again.

Proper Technique

The Best athletes don’t suffer from poor technique. Sure, if you position your body a certain way, or bend your knees a bit, you will generally perform better. Using this teaching angle should help you gain ‘buy-in’ from your students in wanting to learn the proper technique.

The big bonus here is that if you teach proper technique, and it’s followed, then you are already going a long way to ensuring your class don’t suffer any injuries. Most injuries during PE are caused by improper technique, or ‘showboating’.  Stick to the basics and the fundamentals of the game for maximum safety.

Be Alert!

Supervise your students and your activities.  It is important to be actively vigilant with your class.

  • If you see showboating, pull it up.
  • If you see your students struggling with poor technique, address it and re demonstrate the correct one.
  • Think a piece of equipment may be defective. Stop its use, put it aside and examine it after the class. Do NOT put it back with the other equipment
  • Look for injuries. Some students want to keep playing despite developing an injury, where others may be too embarrassed to say something. Minor injuries can worsen if not treated.


Health and Safety can come in other forms than just those listed.  Nothing is more important than the Health and Safety of your students and it is your responsibility as teachers to ensure that they remain healthy and stay safe.  Most can be avoided with simple common-sense, but it never hurts to review the Health and Safety scorecard of your PE Classes.  Government regulations concerning Health & Safety can change from time to time. Be sure you are aware of any new requirements and you’ll have done your part to ensure your classes are SAFE.

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