Teaching youngsters what to learn from Carlos Alcaraz !

7 min. reading
Published on 05/26/23

Babolat launches pioneering range of specially designed children's racquets.

Thirty children had the opportunity of a lifetime yesterday when Toni Nadal taught them how to become champions, while playing with Carlos Alcaraz and Dominic Thiem. The event in Paris was part of the launch of a range of specially designed Babolat racquets for young players.

Racquets for children are hardly new, but until now, most of them have been simply smaller versions of a full-sized model. Thanks to Babolat’s pioneering work with scientists, coaches and behavioural experts in France and America, the Lyon-based company has now brought out a whole range of racquets conceived, designed and developed with the needs of 4-12 year-olds in mind.

As part of the launch of these racquets, the most successful coach at Paris Grand Slam Toni Nadal taught 30 youngsters aged 8-12 how to play like the best on clay. 2020 US Open Champion Dominic Thiem and US Open reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz were also part of the event to play with the kids.

Find all the pictures and videos of the event ; and Carlos Alcaraz & Dominic Thiem’s first reactions prior to the Paris Grand Slam :

The lucky youngsters were selected from various tennis associations in Paris, the Fête le Mur1 charity founded in 1996 by Yannick Noah that uses tennis as a vehicle for helping children break out of deprived inner city areas, and Lagardère Paris Racing, the country club in the Bois de Boulogne just north of Paris Grand Slam that hosted the event. As well as enjoying on-court coaching from the best in the world, the kids also learned how to string a racquet – with 50% of a racquet’s effectiveness coming from the strings, Babolat believes knowing how a racquet is strung is all part of the understanding needed to optimise a player’s game.

“Babolat is one of the oldest names in tennis, dating from 1875,” says Eric Babolat, the fifth generation head of the family-owned French firm, “but we have only stayed relevant by evolving with changing times and technologies. Since juniors are the future of tennis, our goal as a brand is to foster a love of the sport among the young generation of players. We have therefore tapped into our tradition of innovation and research to offer young players equipment specifically suited to their needs.”

Babolat teamed up with two highly respected partners and a group of top coaches to create the world’s first racquet range designed entirely to meet the specific needs and expectations of young players.

Scientific input came from the French laboratory LIBM (Laboratoire Inter-universitaire de Biologie et Motricité), which looked at what a racquet needs to offer a child for optimum development of motor skills and biomechanics, in particular to prevent injuries in growing bodies. LIBM analysed more than 300 children from 15 tennis clubs in France to determine the best characteristics, like size, balance and grip.

Know more about this approach and the study.

Pedagogic advice came from a group of around 10 top coaches who specialise in techniques of learning and teaching tennis, which enabled Babolat to design racquets that helps children to progress in their practice and to enjoy playing. The group included the FFT coach Olivier Letort, who has written books2 on the evolution of tennis technique and coaching, and who is regarded as an expert in the field.

Psychological and behavioural expertise came from Court 16, the tennis club in New York exclusively for children, which looks at new and exciting ways of teaching and practising tennis. Together, Babolat and Court 16 created the first Babolat Kids Lab, a space to observe and analyse kids on the court, and to test new equipment.

Out of this research and innovation work has come a range of 10 racquets: five BFly models (for girls) and five Ballfighter models (for boys), each in increasing size to be age appropriate. Among the differences from child-size replicas of adult racquets are :

• Smaller grip size for better handling and a decrease in shock and harmful vibrations

• Lighter weight for the best manoeuvrability

• Open and evolutionary stringing pattern to allow for easy power

• Thicker and longer bumper to better protect the racquet and improve durability

• Learning tools on the racquet for easy learning (icons, improved bumper)

• Sticker in the yoke (or bridge – top of the throat) to personalise racquets

• Gender orientated: BFly range for girls, Ballfighter for boys, kids activities on the facecards, pro players mascot support practice, and other features

All 10 racquets are priced in the 28-30-euro range (around $35, ¥3634 or 320 RMB) and are recommended for ages 4 to 12.

See and download product pictures :

Babolat has other children’s racquets on sale, notably a junior version of the Pure Aero used by Rafael Nadal, plus other Pure Aero, Pure Drive and Pure Strike models made for junior players. But these are largely children’s equivalents of the adult models, whereas the BFly and Ballfighter models are designed with young players’ needs in mind.

Discover all the Babolat racquets for kids

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1. The French ‘Fête le Mur’ means literally ‘go over the wall’ but translates best as ‘Breaking out’. However, the charity has no official English language name.

2. . Notably ‘Tennis évolutif’ (Evolving tennis), Olivier Letort & Jean-Claude Marchon (foreword by Guy Forget), Tennis Cooleurs, 1999.

Photo credits : @ahtlaqdmm & @adem_photographie