How to plan a sensory tennis session

There are two different ways of delivering sensory tennis. Which one you decide to follow will depend on the outcomes that participants are working towards.

Option one

Deliver a full session. This incorporates a Coin Toss, Warm Up, Body and Ball activity, Racket and Ball activity, Celebration and Handshake.


  • Participants work on a wide range of different skills, which allows them to achieve a variety of physical, mental and social outcomes.
  • The session provides a complete and rounded tennis experience.

Option two

Select one skill. Focus in more depth on developing a particular skill, and achieving one or two outcomes.


  • Participants can focus on the skill they’re interested in developing, prioritising the outcomes and achievements that mean the most to them.
  • Repetition of a skill helps facilitate learning in people with complex disabilities.

In this guide, you’ll find an activity plan to help you to structure your tennis sessions. This can be tailored to match the energy and ability of each participant.

We’ve included ideas for how to make sessions harder if participants are getting more comfortable, and easier if they are too challenging.

See an example of a sensory tennis session plan.

“I am now confident that in breaking down specific tennis skills to the easiest degree and am not afraid to stay on that movement or activity for a longer amount of time than I would normally, to ensure the participant is confident in the task”

Ben Haworth, Brentwood TC

Equipment you might need

Sensory tennis sessions are designed to be delivered with minimal equipment, using whatever you have available. Think about making them sensory by using different textures, sizes and colours.

To get the most out of the sessions, you may wish to use the following:

Please contact LUSU if you’d like to receive a sensory tennis equipment bag.

  • Rackets (different sizes).
  • Balls (different sizes and textures).
  • Ribbons, scarves.
  • Cones.
  • Balloons.
  • Dish cloth or nylon square.
  • To make a “flying fish”, tie a fluff ball in a nylon square and then another nylon square onto that. Alternatively, tie a small light ball in a sock.


It is important that any sensory tennis programme delivered is outcome-led.

As well as being fun, there are a number of outcomes related to health, wellbeing and personal development which can be achieved by taking part in sensory tennis. It is important to identify which outcomes participants want to work towards, and then design activities which will help them achieve these outcomes.

There are some common outcomes which participants may experience by taking part in sensory tennis, such as:

  • Independence – work towards doing activities more independently.
  • Fun – this activity will provide enjoyment.
  • Health and fitness – improve your strength, flexibility, fitness levels or weight.
  • Try something new – experience something you haven’t tried before.
  • Skill development – this activity will improve your coordination and fine-motor skills.
  • Social skills – increase your interaction with others and develop friendships.
  • Communication – develop your communication skills.
  • Choice – deciding how you want to complete an exercise.
  • Exploration – use senses to explore the environment.

These outcomes also have applications within everyday life. Participants may find that they can complete tasks such as getting dressed, holding shopping bags or communicating with their peers, with more confidence and independence.

I am always led by the participant. You can create a session plan, but you need to be flexible enough to understand that the pace and development will be decided upon by the participant and will vary depending on the outcomes they want to achieve.

Andy Bell, Tennis Chesterfield

Get in touch

Contact [email protected] if you’d like further support, or if you’d like us to send you a free physical copy of this resource. We’d also love to hear about how your sensory tennis sessions are going!