As those New Year’s resolutions set in, why not take up a new sport? Dan Barrie, director of the Bahrain Tennis Academy, tells us why his sport is one of the best options for all-round health and fitness.
Historically, tennis is known as the ‘sport for a lifetime’ but that doesn’t mean you need to start young. People of any age and skill level can reap the health benefits this sport provides which include boosting your aerobic fitness, speed, agility, motor control, balance, hand-eye coordination and general health – to name a few.
On the island, the Bahrain Tennis Academy hosts group and private sessions, tournaments and camps, for kids as young as three and adults of all ages. Director Dan Barrie tells us why taking up tennis in the New Year could be your resolution for a lifetime.
How did the Bahrain Tennis Academy come about?
BTA was established in 2009. I have been teaching in Bahrain at various schools and clubs since 2000 and eventually decided to register the academy to be able to employ other professional coaches. This has enabled us to offer a very structured programme of professional coaching to more students.
What led you to tennis initially?
I’ve always loved playing sports. When I was about ten years old, my Dad asked if I would like to take tennis lessons at the local club in my hometown in the suburbs of Melbourne. I was immediately drawn to it as I felt it was more challenging than the other sports I played at the time. I felt it required a higher level of athletic ability to be successful and that appealed to me. Because it’s quite a technical game, I think most of the other kids that played tennis and stuck with it were the more sporty kids. So I also enjoyed testing myself against these better athletes, particularly in an individual sport where you are 100 percent responsible for the outcome!
What kinds of lessons, camps and other tutorial sessions does the academy offer?
Our primary programme, which follows the International Tennis Federation’s recommended formats, consists of weekly lessons for juniors where kids use rackets, balls and court sizes appropriate to their age and level. Using the correct format is critical in developing juniors, a fact that a lot of coaches of my generation, who grew up without specialised equipment, are still coming to terms with.
Then we have our marquee adult programme which is Cardio Tennis. Cardio Tennis is best described as a tennis-based group fitness class. The idea is to keep your heart-rate in your training zone which gives you the best cardio workout. High-energy music is played throughout the session to help players to keep motivated and moving. We really want everyone to give it a go so we offer a free trial.
We also offer private lessons for those looking for individual attention whether they are beginners that want to accelerate their rate of progress or advanced players that require extra attention to work on techniques.
From time-to-time we also organise tournaments and camps. These events are great opportunities for kids to play some extra tennis and test the skills they’ve learnt in lessons.
Plenty of people are currently implementing those New Year’s resolutions of getting fit and losing weight. Why would you advise them to choose tennis?
Our Cardio Tennis programme in particular is a great workout for adults of all ages and abilities. We even have a session specifically for teenagers. Cardio Tennis has been shown to burn more calories than just about any other recreational activity so that’s reason enough. But the best parts are that you don’t need any previous tennis experience to participate and it’s fun – players have so much fun chasing the ball around in the fresh air that they don’t feel like they’re working nearly as hard as they actually are. You can’t say the same of being on the stair master or treadmill!
What other benefits are there to learning tennis?
For children in particular, tennis is a game they can play for the rest of their lives, which is not something you can say for too many sports. It’s great for building confidence and character in children since it’s typically played as an individual sport. They learn how to handle the highs and lows of winning and losing. Since it’s a non-contact sport, it’s also very safe.
For adults, there are great fitness and social benefits. For example, our Cardio Tennis classes are made up of men and women of a variety of ages and nationalities. Among them are ‘traditional tennis’ players and those whose first tennis experience was Cardio Tennis.
Should parents encourage their kids to start as early as possible?
Absolutely. The earlier they start, the quicker they will learn, however, ‘encourage’ is the keyword. Some parents can be a little too eager to have their children take up the sport in the hopes they will see their children achieve accolades they wished they had achieved themselves. It is really important that the child has a desire to participate and is not being pushed to do so by the parents or else they will ultimately quit.
How do people join?
People can join by simply contacting me. We will then discuss what programme is most suitable for their needs and budget.
BTA operates in various locations. Contact 3969 7114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although the Bahrain Tennis Academy doesn’t sell memberships, they have series packages for lessons run by the school term. Fees for a typical 12-week term are:
(12 sessions) – BD86 for 45-minute sessions, BD106 for 60-minute sessions, BD148 for 90-minute sessions. Forty percent discount applies to a second session per week.
(60 minutes x 12 sessions) – BD264 for an individual, BD168 per person for two players, BD140 per person for three players, BD126 per person for four players.
(60 minutes x 12 sessions) – BD84 for once a week, BD134 for twice a week, BD168 for three times a week. Free trial available.