How Much Do You Need to Produce Professional Tennis Players

How Much Do You Need to Produce Professional Tennis Players

The following post is written by Alex Yep. He was traveling on the ITF circuit and participating at college matches of his tennis players.

If your dream is to have your child play professional tennis, you need to look deep into your soul and of your child. You have to be really sure and most of all, you need to be really sure of your child’s well being and desire. You will be digging deep into your wallet and it will be a hard road ahead with no guarantees. Be sure your child really have the desire to play and train as young as the ages of 7-8. Belief me, which speaking from experience and have when down this road before. Also, as parents, you need to be just as dedicated as the tennis player because for one of the parents, it will become a full time job plus more.

Let’s start, if you are serious and your child is about 7-8 years old. For their age they cannot train a full schedule because of their age factor. It will be too much for them. Start with a 4 day training of about 4 hours a day split into two sessions. Schedule of 4 days should consist of: 3 two hours session with one on one coaching. 1 two hours session with a qualify hitter. Remainder of the time spend practicing with parents. Play at least 1 tournament a month. Coaching cost will run approximately $75-$150/HR depending on your coach. Hitting coach should be about $35/HR.

This schedule should maintain until the junior tennis player reach the age of 10.  Then it should increase to 5 days practice of 5-6 hours per day and adding 1 additional hitting session. When the tennis player reach the age of 11-12, depending on how well they physically developed.  This is the age where your real training starts and a team must be in place for the development.  The training will increase to 6-8 hours 6 days a week.  The team will consist of (remember this is a guideline):

  1. The lead coach, 5 2/HR sessions a week  $75-$150/HR,
  2. Additional specialty coach/with unique shot making skill, three 2/HR sessions $75-$100/HR,
  3. Hitting coach, three 2/HR sessions $35/HR,
  4. Trainer, three 2/HR sessions $60-$100/HR,
  5. Nutritionist once a week for meal plans and evaluation, 2HRS/$60-$100/HR,
  6. Parent, free, no charge.

This training will continue until age of 14. Then it is time to test the player on the junior ITF Circuit, possibly until age 16. This is where it starts getting expensive.  Add one traveling coach to the agenda.  This could be any of the 3 coaches you already have in place.  You need to play at least 2-3 ITF tournaments per month. This will cost 5-10 thousands per week depending where you’re traveling to. Then you multiply that for approximately two years.

When the junior tennis player reach age of 16, if they are good enough to play on the futures tour; they will be traveling weekly with a coach.  This will run approximately 5-7 thousands per week.  Then at this point, it will be up to the player to see how long it will take them to succeed.

From the age of 8 until that player makes it on the big stage, you can approximately figure what it will cost you to get there.  This is a general assumption and some really talented players may be able to get there sooner and able to keep the cost down by making money earlier on tour.

About the author: Alex Yep, the creator and the only instructor for Physio Technical Tennis. He can be reached at ay_tennistrip@yahoo.com

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Comments

How Much Do You Need to Produce Professional Tennis Players — 23 Comments

  1. Dear Yep,

    The roadmap you described is maybe one way, but in my opinion not the optimal way and surely too expensive!!
    A 7-8 year old should not train more then 5 hours/week on a tennis court
    A 9-10 year old should not train more then 7 hours/week on a tennis court
    A 10-12 year old should not train more then 10 hours/week on a tennis court
    Until this age of 12 years the rest of the training should be very ABC’s! In total the training should not exceed 15hours/week.
    A 12-14 year old should not exceed 18hours/week with no more then 13 hours on court!
    If you’re child need lots more of on court training then listed above, he or she has not enough talent to make it!!
    For Girls :
    at the age of 14 she should be top 10 (this depends of the maturity of her body) in her age category and should be playing in the highest womens categorie in national tournaments.
    at the age of 16 she should be top 10 national and competing in ITF pro circuit (lower tiers) and the training load should not exceed 20h/week. When she reaches 18 years she can decide to go on full-time program, when it is clear that she has still growing potential and is already top 3 in the nation!!

    For Boys: ad 2 years to each age category from 12 years!

    • Walter,
      I have to disagree with you. I have been down this path and spoke with many parents while on the ITF circuit. Also had many opportunities speaking with pro-players and watched some of the top pro-players trained. If you have a player that can produce and train less then 20 hours a week, that player is a real special player and should be top 5 in the world. Let me give you just one insight. These players trying to go pro and the already pro players have daily hitting sessions at least 6 times a week and these sessions can range from 2-3 hours each. Just the hitting sessions along with run 12-18 hours a week. If you can turn out a top pro in less then 20 hours a week, please sign me up.

    • Thank goodness for some commonsense. Have we not learnt anything from a generation of injured and lost players. Indeed “5 days practice of 5-6 hours per day and adding 1 additional hitting session” plus school and homework totals a full time job for a 7yo.

      • Hello Howard
        In my guidelines a 7-8 year old should train 4 hours a day split in two sessions. Let me assure you. If parents or child makes a decision to train to become a top pro; it does become a full time job. It also becomes a full time job for one of the parents. If you want to make it in the pro circuit, you better be serious on the decisions you make. Otherwise, you will not make it.

  2. Hello!!! First I would like to mention that the expenses is one of the biggest reason USTA and NCAA have to vanish with these amateur rule of juniors not been able to receive money and sponsor help from organizations or people. Tennis is not like any other sport where you can hit the world record on your High School track.
    I did play ITF Junior Circuit and I think your $5-10 thousand a week is little too much, only if you are staying in 5 starts hotel and dining out at the best restaurants. And all the coaching and hours extras private coaches are only for real rich kids. I know lots of players from South America and Europe that practice hard for years (3-4 hrs) a day and with very little money and most of them go to play on the tour for few years. We don’t need to spend that kind of money to become a pro player especially with all the information online these days. And only a few specials one become top 20 in the world, there were lots of hard working players that spend the same amount of time and money and could not break top 200s.
    Players do need to be on the court every single day for about 3-4 hrs with fitness on their routine, and playing at least 15-20 tournaments a year.

  3. Hi Paulo,
    I’d understand you have played on the ITF circuit. So, did many men and women have tried. But how many of them really make it. Even if you made top 100, you are barely scratching the surface of the prize money. What I’ve propose is your best optimum chance of succeeding on the circuit with proper coaching and training. Keep in mind, tennis is an expensive sport in the US, unlike most countries if you are training with the state’s program; all your expenses are cover by their federation.
    Also, in the US, training for professional tennis is like playing the stock market. The more you invest, the bigger the reward but no guarantees. The guideline I’ve set is to give the player the opportunity to at least make top 20. Just remember, you cannot skim on training for tennis, it will just hinder your progress.

  4. This is just an additional comment on cost if you are traveling on the ITF circuit relating to Paulo’s comment about 5 thousand per week. Here is a scenario for you. If you are a junior ITF player, many tournaments are played in other parts of the world. If you are serious about going pro, usually there will be three people traveling in your group; the player, parent, and coach.
    1. Airfare for 3, approx. – $1500,
    2. Coaching fee/week – $1500,
    3. Fees to the club which the coach works at $500,
    4. Hotel/2 rooms – $1000-$1500,
    5. Meals, laundry, transportation, misc. $250/day – $1500/week. Includes expenses of the coach,
    6. Just these cost will run approx. $6000-$6500/week.

  5. Dear Yep,
    I have to disagree with you on several levels.
    First, the training load of more then 20h/week is not necessary for players U18 years. I can prove that with at least 2 top players Kim Clijsters en Kirsten Flipkens. Kim is now retired, but Kirsten still train in our Academy.
    Second, the cost is in our academy $1000,/month for the Pro-junior (12-18y) team players not included the cost for hospitality fees and touring on the ITF circuit!
    Grosser/Schönborn has written a very good road map for developing top players: “Competitive Tennis for Young Players”. They also disagree with you.

    • Hello Walter,
      You have to look at where you are training. In the US, we get no help from any federation or association for support. All cost comes from the player’s parents. If the academy you have there is producing top 10 players training less then 20 hours a week, I guess you should have hundreds of top 10 players on tour every year. I deal in facts and have gone down that road and have seen other juniors gone down the same road in the US. I’m not saying is impossible, but maybe you get one in hundreds of thousands of juniors that tries to go pro. I have seen Japanese juniors do a workout and played 2 ITF matches and workout again for another 3 hours after their matches. I have seen Russian players train 2-3 hours with their coach, then practice serves, hit the ball machine, and then go to fitness everyday. Even college players have to do 3 hours practice Monday – Friday, then they also have to do weights and fitness 3 times a week; plus additional hitting amongst themselves. So, from all these experience that I have and I don’t belief you can train a top tennis pro player in less then 20 hours, maybe your academy have some secrets you need to share with us coaches around the world. Best of luck to you.

      • Dear Yep,

        I’ll try one more time to explain…

        Training load UNDER 18 years do not have to exceed 20h/week
        We do not produce world top 10 players every year neither do you or anybody else regardless the methods of development.
        That is my point!! We have evenly odds to have the luck to work with a supertalent

        Training cost UNDER 18 years is approx. 1000$/month not included other fees for hospitality and touring ITF circuit. These costs are the same for everybody supported by the federation or any other organisation/person.

        Best of luck to you to

        • Hello Walter,
          Just want to clarify that the guideline that I’ve put out is for juniors and their parents who are serious about trying to go pro. The guideline will give a higher chance for success if these juniors and parents decide to pursuit the pro-circuit. It is not just for an academy training or live-in and schooling academy. This is for the chance to make it to the top.

  6. At those prices and time involved and with a one in a million chance, to be in the top 20 as a pro (which you need to be to make some serious money) the better bet would be to take all the money and invest into a college fund and have the kid take that training time and invest into math and science study to attend MIT or Ivy League college and be guaranteed a lifetime career. I love tennis but if you look at the money and training time who in their right mind other than a billionaire would spend that kind of money on a kid would might at 17 walk away or be injured. This is why American tennis isn’t having success, the kids with the best talent go to team sports such as football and basketball. They go on the college get a scholarship, then on to the pro game where they are given money up front to join the team and they get paid win of lose. Unlike tennis where you need a bank roll to play the circuit and only make money if you win. The best bet a tennis kid can make is play well and study hard enough to get a college scholarship and get paid to play tennis while earning a degree. That is a win win.

  7. Debi,
    This is what I’ve been talking about and have been trying to change the training and funding structure of USTA. I have pretty much traveled all over the world with ITF juniors and have spoken to many junior players from around the world. Their federations picks up the tap for all their training expenses and travels. For these smaller countries and they are able to do that and the US cannot, this is beyond belief. That is one reason why we are losing some of our best talents for tennis and most would just opt to get a college scholarship. Also, like you said and I have made this statement before, that it is too difficult to earn money in professional tennis. Most kids will rather play a team sport and have a better chance of making big. The guideline for the training and expenses I’ve put in place is not an exaggeration. I have gone down that road with players before. The financial capital needs to be inplace because you just can’t run out of funds if you are traveling and playing on the circuit.

  8. Alex
    6500 a week for lets say 2 years at 20 weeks per year = $260,000.00 investment.
    Fact: to break even in the circuit you need to be at least ranked #150.
    The average time it takes to be ranked about 150 is 4 years. And that is to break even. So, you are in $500,000.00 with the hopes of making it back, it takes another 4 years to break top 100, you will be broke and without an education if you are not super fabulous. Spending more money does not increase your chances of success.
    What increases your chances of success is having been properly guided early on.

  9. Javier,
    Like you said, unless you are a fantastic player and able to break into the circuit early then you can cut down on the bank roll. If you can break into top 100 in 3-4 years times, there will be a chance that you can get some sponsorship from a athletic apparel company. But you will still have to play on the tour and get results. The best scenario is winning a few $50,000 challengers, then you will have the possibility to get notice and accumulate enough points to enter into the bigger tournaments.
    Otherwise, you better have that huge bank roll available because it will take time to accumulate points. You will have to travel to different cities or countries weekly. That is very costly.

  10. The author and all contributors are right in their thinking. The author is giving it all it takes to break into professional circuit with the right investment of resources and time while other contributors are sort of playing it safe with the player’s career. The player is best placed to make the right choice considering the amount of resources at his disposal.

    • Are you saying that (in the same country) one player that has the money to pay 1000$/week for development has a better chance to make it then a player with the same abilities that only can afford 200$/week?

  11. Hi Walter

    It is definitely so. Especially in the US when you don’t get any resources from your own tennis federation, everything comes out of your own pocket. Just traveling expenses is already too much for an above average household. So tennis in the US can get costly if you are trying to break into the pro circuit. Like I’ve said $5000 a week is normal if you are playing on the tour. Also, it all depends on where you are traveling to for tournaments. Airline tickets for two can already run you $1000 to $2000. It is not just how much you pay the academy. There are so much added cost in becoming a professional tennis player.

    • I understand that on Tour it’s very costly…but I’m talking about development of player from 8 years to 18 years…then they don’t need to make those expenses on the Tour. When you have that age you can ‘predict’ if the player has a chance on the Tour, that’s a total different approach…

  12. Walter

    That is also what I’m referring to. If the junior don’t have the potential, I wouldn’t reccommend spending that kind of money.

    • Alex

      You(nobody) don’t know if a junior at the age of 14 has the potential to make it in the adult Tour and you’re spending then already 5-7 thousand dollar a week for 2-3 ITF tournaments per month. Exceptions exists like super-talents at the age of 14-16 that can compete with the adults, then you don’t have to doubt and the costs of his or her career are well taking care of by sponsors!

  13. Walter

    By the time a junior is 14, as their coach you should know if the player has potential or not. It is true that there are no guarantees to make it on the adult tour. We are saying potential, meaning the junior has a chance of making it. I always tell parents there are no guarantees, but the guideline on cost is merely the best scenario to support the player for success. I’m only giving the suggestion and the decision to spend that money is not my call. It will be up to the parents or sponsors of the player. Also, if anyone decides to train for the pro circuit, their lifes will change. Either you go all the way or don’t try at all. There is no such thing as half pro.

    • Alex

      We have 14 years old girls that are already competing with the highest women in Belgium and they are been scout for the Fed-Cup Team in the near future
      They have potential to go a long way, but top 50 ????
      If you are not talking about a Rafa Nadal and Martina Hingis that where at the age of 14 and 16 already outstanding then you will have a hard time to find candidates to go all the way or nothing…but by al means try and let us know how many of them have reach the top 50 of 20. Good luck!