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27 Jan, Friday
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Montreal Families

Tennis for kids with special needs

For more than a decade, Pro Set Inclusive Tennis has been helping students with special needs across Montreal build confidence through sport. Founder Philippe Manning says the adapted program is inclusive as it caters to not only students on the autism spectrum but also those with other neurodiverse conditions such as global developmental delay, ADHD and PDD-NOS.

The program includes individualized lessons and the use of specialized equipment such as shorter racquets and bigger tennis balls to help students learn the basics of the sport. Lessons are built around five key goals: find motivation, participate, gain focus, get moving, and make friends.

Progress is attained over four stages. It starts with teaching kids to follow instructions and socialize using  visual and verbal cues. At the second level, students learn to improve anticipation and reaction skills as well as basic techniques for backhands and forehands. The third level prepares students for matches by learning how to play with a peer and directing the ball in different directions. Finally, students will gain the ability to position themselves on the court, increase their ability to execute groundstrokes and play with peers.

Because tennis can be played as an individual sport, students can develop at their own pace. Manning says he has seen multiple benefits for kids, including an increase in confidence, improved ability to interact with others and mastering tennis skills. He adds that the program helps to strengthen self-confidence and social skills, which translates to an overall positive sporting experience.

Lessons are available for age groups 6-12, 13-20, and 20-30. A 10-week spring program kicks off at the Kirkland Sports Complex on April 10 and wraps up on June 12.

The eight-week summer program will run from July 3 to August 21 at the Ecclestone Park. All programs are held on Sundays.

For more information, visit specialneedssport.ca.

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