- Starting vision to make it happen
- 1/5 part Crazy Parents
- 1/5 part Willing kid
- 1/5 part Loads of Money
- 1/5 part knowledgeable coach at right time
- 1/5 belief and competitive spirit
- Little handful of luck
First, parents and coaches need to understand that neither makes champions. This is key; the champion is within the kid. So, it’s the parents and coach’s job to guide the impetus of the kid so the kid can decide if this is something that he needs. The need to be a champion is a rare trait.
Once you have this a vision needs to be crafted along with a plan for the kid. Suggestion: get serious after 16, before makes little sense even though the coaches will push for earlier, resist this.
Now that you have a starting point it is key that the parents are crazy, not in the demented way, but in the supportive, willing and spending inordinate amount of time in support of the kid’s vision and desire.
A key here is that the parents are educated in the impossible probabilities and yet still decide to give it a shot. It is important that both parents have a common vision and different support roles. If these parents start having different views, it most likely will not work out.
Sometimes, you need it to be the job of one of the parents, driving the kid here and there and sooner or later it becomes a job for one of the parents.
Next is the 1/5 part willing kid, this can be confusing as all kids say they are willing, but few understand what that means. Willing kid does not mean wanting something only, it means willing to work, learn, listen, sacrifice, and be able and willing to do what no one wants.
Let me give you an example, we constantly tell our kids to go hit the wall for 30 minutes with a routine in mind. They seldom do it, Borg, Vilas, Azarenka, Noel had to be removed from the wall as they would spend hours by themselves. Also willing in this day and age, means studying the game without the need of being taught, and taking the time to read the great books and learning from other coaches on their own time.
Most kids talk a good game to state that they are willing, the reality is most are not willing to put the sacrifice it takes. If you are a parent of a kid with such characteristics, get educated on how to help channel that desire into, gasoline for an attainable dream.
The next 1/5 is super critical, you need loads of cash for trips, coaching, tournaments, more coaches, hotels, flights etc. etc. It seems like it never ends. The key here is to understand that every kid and parent will hit the money wall guaranteed at some point. There will be many who think this wall won’t come, let me be blunt it will.
The key is to hopefully get results at the proper ages so that you can help from the USTA or find a willing investor. Key to understand in this important part is that, although money is important, having a willing kid is much more. If you look at the top pros, most of them come from modest means. Therefore, while money counts, alone it is simply not enough.
Now we have to add a key ingredient which is a willing coach. Those are hard to come by as one needs to know about them before committing time to them. One also has to know that the best (usually more mature) coaches should be teaching the kids early on. This is very important to understand.
Tennis is a game of time, and to have a money making pro, you need to be taught well so you build on the learning and not have to pay again to unlearn and learn again the right way. This is instrumental in not wasting time and money. In my opinion, the key is to have a coach that knows and also cares for the kid more than your cash. This is almost as hard to find as a needle in a haystack. But, they are out there, look for them.
Also be aware of the showman coaches, they talk a good game but their intentions are not remotely near yours. Learn to screen out the salesman from the professionals. At every stage of the career, you need different coaches. You need to know when you need what. If you don’t understand this you are wasting time and that is something you cannot afford.
One key point on this ingredient: this is the secret, the kid needs to learn to be his own coach this is the goal.
The last ingredient is a never ending belief and competitive spirit. What exactly does that mean? It means that if you have a kid that competes in tennis, but not in other meaningless stuff. He is not competitive.
For example if your kid does not compete in chess, ping pong, races or anything. He or she may not be competitive enough. To be money making pro you need competiveness in your DNA and that means compete to win at everything.
This ingredient is a tough one, as most kids compete but not at everything. That is why there are few money making pros in the universe.
To conclude you need of course a little bit of luck. Truth is though that if you do what you are supposed to everyday, luck will come and your kid will be ready to use it. Luck is a product of circumstance and opportunity and not under your control. The harder you work, the luckier you will become. I promise.
Now that you know the secret of a money making tennis pro, you realize why it is so hard to become one. Too many factors need to workout at the right time. It almost seems impossible. Truth is it is highly improbable that any kid will be a pro even if they win whatever tournament. Certainly having a system like the USTA has to develop players makes no sense given these requirements. Would you not agree?
If we want to have more money making pros in this country, the solution is very easy. Just grow the game, the champions will come. More players, means more crazy parents, more coaches to choose from, more fit people, more opportunities for all.
Keep in mind the USTA has not grown the game in the US in the last 30 years, and the way it is managed it is not about to start. Good luck if you give it a go. Call me if you need help. Half of you reading this article will agree with me others will not. All comments are welcome. I can be reached at @palenquej