Andy Murray's mum Judy reveals how she honed her sport star sons' talents

Yahoo Lifestyle

Speaking to Judy Murray, it’s hardly surprising that her sons Andy and Jamie are two of the UK’s top sportsmen.

She sounds full of energy as we quiz her on the next steps for her activity programme Set4Sport (and how she helped her boys become star tennis players).

Because now her two are at the top of their game, Judy’s on a mission to use her passion and enthusiasm to turn your kids into little sports stars too.

Cereal box tennis and the art of competition

“Set4Sport was created out of games Jamie and Andy used to play at home and school when they were little.

“The things that kids play with nowadays are done sitting down – playing with a computer, watching DVDs - the most active things are their thumbs!

“But when the boys were small, it was just so natural to be active and I came from a very sporty family so I didn’t think anything of it. That’s why I decided to make the Set4Sport programme, which is just a collection of all the fun games and activities we used to play."

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“The one that Jamie and Andy would talk about most is ‘Boom Boom Balloon’. Because of the weather in Scotland I often had to find things to do indoors and that were safe that wouldn’t cause havoc in the house.

“Balloons are ideal because they’re easy to play with, don’t make a mess, travel slowly, a don’t break things. It starts with one balloon in the hall and a stack of cushions in the middle as a net and then the boys worked out their own scoring system, games and challenges.

“Then add more balloons and it keeps children entertained for hours – and wears them out."

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“And having two brothers who are close in age, they were always trying to beat each other and really learned to be competitive.

“We used to fill the balloons with rice to make noises, and we filled them to different sizes, which taught the boys about speeds and reaction time.

“The other favourite was Cereal Box Tennis using the boxes as a net across the kitchen table – their first introduction to the game!”

Fun doesn’t cost a penny

“For many families where both parents work, it can be hard to find the time to play with your kids but what you do at home is just as important as sports lessons and after school activities and classes.

“Even if you have 10 or five minutes to play actively with your kids – that’s enough. You don’t have to go somewhere, or buy any expensive equipment. You’ve got it all at home already.

“That’s what I’m trying to share with the Set4Sport programme.

“What you’re doing by encouraging them to be active is giving them all sorts of essential life skills that many kids just aren’t learning these days.

"Active play develops coordination, balance, strength and gets them to think laterally, to work together to solve a problem and connects their mental development to their physical. And if they get that training early on they’re much more likely to be a success and be more confident.”

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Making it fun

“The main thing is to make it all fun, make it all a game. So you can even make tidying their room a game.

“Stick the laundry basket in the middle of the room and give them 20 seconds to throw as many things into it as possible – you’ll be developing their speed, co-ordination and throwing skills and getting a tidy bedroom – win-win!”

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The trouble with girls

“Girls are different to boys and we have to tackle getting them active a little differently. One of the keys is definitely to have all girl groups, particularly as they get older.

“Often girls can be put off by mixed groups or classes because boys can be more competitive, aggressive and physical.

“Plus, there’s the added problem that girls perceive sport as being muscly or sweaty – but that’s changing. You just have to look at the likes of Jess Ennis and Hannah Watson to see it’s possible to be both sporty and feminine.

“The biggest growing activity for girls is dance – Zumba and street dance for example. To do those well you need to be co-ordinated – it’s all about sport but it also teaches them to be rhythmical and makes sport look cool.”

Set4Sport and getting involved

“One of the things that encouraged me to put the programme together was what I've seen in schools. I often visit primary schools to do sessions that let kids try tennis – mini tennis, with sponge balls and plastic bats.

“And over the years I’ve become more and more aware that children are getting increasingly overweight and less coordinated.

“The foundation of balls sports, the throwing and catching ability, is missing because they’re not playing the same way as they were before – there’s not enough PE and there’s not enough activity at home.

“We're trying to make activity the norm again. So there’s loads of free resources on the website, video clips and competitions, and you can send for the book. We also run parent and child activities and set up the games to show parents how – in parks museums and busy places where there are lots of families.

“And the really exciting new thing that we’re about to do now is go on tour. We’ll be taking our Set4Sport bus around the country.

“We’ll be visiting schools and nurseries to teach parents and teachers how to create better, more fun PE lessons.

“So if you want us to come visit just send me an email – Tell us why you’d like us to visit and we could come to your back garden, or local park, leisure centre, nursery, social club – anywhere you like.

“Get all your kids’ friends round for a fun, busy and active morning or afternoon.”

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