So you have got a talented child. Everyone is telling you he or she can make it to become a pro. And you must make a decision about what to do next. Everyone will tell you it all depends on how much money you have got. How dedicate you are. Are you wiling to take risk?
Should not be that way. Tennis is not ( anymore ) sport for upper class white boys and girls . I agree majority of old stile Couches and some Tennis politicians are still thinking “ If he won’t his child to play Tennis he mast have many “ Nothing can be fare from thru then this statement . From database of yang players that I got 85 % come from ordinary background or even worse. So way is still so difficult and expensive to bring up young players?
Major problem actually lies in difficulty that coaches, managers and academies face of forcing parents of players to honour the contract. The majority of tennis players start their tennis journey very young. So they need help from age 5, 6, or 7 years old. If for example parents of those children sign any kind of contract with a coach, manager or academy when the time comes to pick the fruit of the hard work parents can simply rip up the contract without any sort of consequences. So the academy, coach, or manager invest a huge amount of work and money in the player from age 6 to 16 years old thinking that they will have their money back by taking a percentage from endorsements and sponsorships that the player will have once they become a professional or earlier. That coach, manager or academy can not protect themselves from being dropped before the 16th birthday by the player and his or her parents without receiving any money back whatsoever. Kornicova did this to IMG, sister Williams’ to Ricki Macci, Henman to David Lloyd and many more. Because of that to the time that the law changes it’s going to be wary difficult to mace couches, academies or menageries to trust parents of young players. We should really follow rules of football clubs and there academy contracts.
So until that time comes we should learn how to survive the upbringing of young tennis players.
Very important part of grass- roots tennis and making tennis more accessible to the masses. But there is a limit to where the local coach can take your child. If your child is one of these characters who like to change things that they want to be in life and their emigrating from the football player, to basketball player, to handball player, to a singer, back to being tennis player the local coach is the best thing for your child. And you never know maybe one day they will stick with tennis and you can then take step 2.
The 2nd step of tennis life; Your child will be exposed to natural selection without protection. Local Clubs don’t have money or manpower to make a bespoke program to suit your child. Their main concern is to cater for every member of the club. To participate in locally organised tournaments, usually organised by the Federation. They need to make the federation happy and “show them numbers” because the Federation is where they get their main finance from. They don’t need one Nadal only in their club; they need 100 little players on their books. It’s a very important part for you and your child there. You will learn what “Tennis Parent” means. Start living with your first frustrations; learn that your child is not the best in the world and that really the Head Coach of the club does not have “all the time in the world” just for your child. The reality of tennis has now arrived in your life.
Oh come on! Do you really think that famous and established coaches will dedicate themselves to a boy or girl of 7 or 8 years old? If you consider that the price per hour for a famous coach is 300 euros or more do you really think that they will drop that because of the dream that one day your child will be a Grand Slam winner? Don’t be fooled by some posts in U Tube and personal websites where you can see a young child playing with a famous coach that, that is an everyday equation. The parents of those children paid a lot of money for that day with that top coach. That will actually damage sponsorship possibilities for your child and make you look really… I will talk about this in more detail in future articles.
If you are careful in choosing the right academy for your child you and your child can not lose out by joining the academy. With tennis programs all good academies will give you an academic program. It’s much easier to achieve sponsorship if your child is a full member of a recognised academy. Don’t forget sponsors or people who make decisions for the sponsors are usually businessmen/ women or marketing and PR people. Their backgrounds come from usually Colleges and Universities and they understand Institutions. So they would much rather give money to an academy then to private people like parents. The most important point is that sponsors don’t want to be seen sponsoring very young children, (they will be eaten alive by the media for exploitation) so if they like certain young players they can always make a deal with the academy or manager of the player that sponsorship will be received by the child and their parents indirectly through the academy or manager. It’s a very complex system that I will try to simplify further in future articles.
Very important part of your tennis life. Not many federations can boast that they produced many very successful players through their system. But do not forget they are people with money and power. Always try to have a good relationship with the federation of your child but don’t go to deep. Take what you can and stay away from their day to day suggestions of “how to” raise and coach a young player. They are politicians at the end of the day and they gain and lose power quickly. So don’t tie yourselves with any of them because you never know how long they will stay in their positions.