9 August 2023 | Tennis Australia

We chat with Tennis Australia Head of National Programs Rebecca McDonald to find out more about the new look Hot Shots Tennis


You have been working on this project for more than 12 months, tell us more about how it’s come about?

Hot Shots Tennis has been a highly successful introduction program to our sport for more than 15 years.

During that time though there has been a fundamental change in the way kids move,  learn and participate in sport. The research shows that less than one third of all Aussie kids get the daily exercise they need to develop vital gross motor skills and the behaviours required to lead healthy adult lives.

We realised that we needed to adapt the Hot Shots Tennis program and the way we deliver it to better suit today’s kid, their parents and the general lack of skills we are seeing.

So, we set up workshops with more than 500 coaches from around Australia to really look at best practice. Everything that you will see from 1 October has been designed by coaches and experts in engaging kids.


What are some of the things that you learnt from the coaches you spoke with?

There were more than 3000 individual items of feedback that we sorted into the following themes:

  • Adding flexibility to the way the program is delivered
  • Amplifying the Blue stage for pre-school aged kids
  • Redefining the Match Play experience and adapting court spaces, particularly in the orange stage to ensure kids have more success
  • The way coaches want to learn from each other about implementing programs
  • Re-examining coach education and development opportunities
  • Marketing, communications and digital support including a need to engage participants on a deeper level.


What do you mean by adding flexibility?

The current program emphasises the age of the player rather than competency and where they should ultimately fit. However, in the redefinition of Hot Shots Tennis we acknowledge that children develop at different rates, and that a set age range without flexibility is no longer representative of a child’s skill level or when and how they develop.

The movement landscape has changed and evolved, as have children. We are responding to this contemporary perspective by updating the program to support and promote flexibility.

The recommended age ranges will now be:

  • Blue: 3-5+
  • Red: 5-8+
  • Orange: 8-10+
  • Green: 10+

The + sign indicates a new direction that embraces individual differences within a framework of development.

We are also making changes to the court area for Orange stage 1 as a result of the research.

The new Orange stage 1 court size sits between the Red stage 3 court and the current orange stage court. The orange stage 1 court of 5.5m x 13m will lead in nicely to the orange stage 2 court which is the existing orange stage court (6.4m x 18.29m). This additional court offers a smoother progression and transition option for children from red to orange stage. There is also a recommendation for a Green stage 1 court however this is just a recommendation and coaches are encouraged to continue to work with their participants for what suits them best.


Is the Blue stage new?

The Blue stage has actually been part of the program for some time but over the years it has merged in with the early Red stages. As part of the new look, we are looking to re-establish this stage of Hot Shots Tennis as a separate and crucial stage in a child’s development – Fundamental Perceptual Motor Skills (FMPS).

There will be an emphasis on play, creativity, imagination and exploration within movement experiences under the expert guidance of the deliverer.

We are looking to supply greater education and professional development for coaches and parents surrounding the ‘world of the child’ at this stage as we know this age is crucial in supporting participation levels in the future. It is important for children to master basic fundamental movement skills in order to be able to participate in sports. So amplifying this stage will be critical for ongoing participation in tennis.

Engaging and age-related characters will be introduced and embedded as part of the learning experience also.


Will Match Play be delivered separately to Hot Shots Tennis?

No. One of the big changes coming in October is that coaches will no longer have to register separately to deliver Hot Shots Tennis and Match Play.

By integrating Match Play into the regular Hot Shots Tennis sessions, kids can build their confidence in a fun environment where the emphasis is on playing rather than winning.


Have you got any good case studies of coaches who have already begun adapting Hot Shots Tennis to their environment?

Yes, one of the best things to come out of the consultation with coaches has been unearthing some great examples of how the new flexible framework can work in practice.

We are looking to promote an “Adopt, Adapt and Share” philosophy where we can showcase best practice and encourage peer-to-peer learning opportunities.


How will coach education adapt to the new look?

Currently, there are very little resources and coaching support for Hot Shots Tennis after the completion of course accreditation. We are looking to build out the existing courses to reflect the new look but also introduce refreshed resources on Bounce and the TA Coach Premium App.

We want to be able to support deliverers to align their programs with the current research and changing landscape of movement and what motivates players to participate in sport from 3-10+.

There is also an aspect of parental education that needs to be implemented so they can support their kid’s development and find ways to maximise their movement at home as well as on the court.


What else does the New Look involve?

We are also making changes to the Hot Shots Tennis brand and how we market it.

We are introducing a more matured Hot Shots Tennis brand which better caters to the age ranges between 3-10+, not just the earlier Red stages. There will be a refreshed colour palette with greater vibrancy and imagery depicting kids of all ages especially in the later Orange and Green stages.

Deliverers will be provided with more assets and opportunities to market their programs.

Improvements to the digital experience for both coaches and parents are also being introduced like the Join the Crew initiative which allows kids to join each year instead of just once so that we can complement what local coaches are doing with great prizes, competitions and value propositions to engage children in the game.


Anything else that coaches need to know?

For now, all you need to do is get ready and we will continue to provide regular updates in the lead-in to October.

If you have any questions, please make sure you ask them at your next Coach Exchange or get in touch with a member of the team.

Find out more about:
New Look Tennis launching October
New Look Tennis brand
New Look Cardio Tennis