To become a tennis pro, you have to be an excellent competitor and deal with many factors that you can’t fully control. In Part I, coach Marcin Bieniek, founder of Enjoy Tennis Blog, wrote about general aspects related to a successful tennis career. Now, he will give us more details about specific requirements for having a chance to play at the biggest venues in the world of tennis.
There is no doubt that it is almost impossible to predict at the age of 10 or 12 if your child will be the next tennis star. If you see that your kid is passionate about tennis, you should do what you can to help him/her achieve the highest possible level. The earlier you are conscious about the specific requirements at different stages of development, the better you can prepare for what lies ahead.
1. Training volume
In the beginning, it is all about having fun and falling in love with tennis. Two or three sessions per week are enough to keep progressing, but also to guarantee the necessary free time in a child’s life. When players get older and they want to get to an advanced level, practice sessions should be included five to six days every week. The volume of tennis should be between two and four hours per day. These should combine individual work with coach and group sessions with other players to maintain a high quality of practice and to develop a variety of skills.
2. Physical and mental preparation
You have to take care of your body and mind to make sure that you are a complete competitor ready for all challenges. Up to the age of 12, physical improvement should be based on participation in other sports and fun physical activities.
When it comes to older players, individually-prepared physical training five to six times a week is needed to prevent possible injuries and to see improvements on the court. In terms of mental aspects, players can work with a psychologist, but it is not necessary. A lot can be done by parents and tennis coaches if they set proper goals and talk to players about opportunities to develop a strong character on and off the court.
3. Training environment
The nature of practice sessions and their goals changes over the years as players transition from one level to the next. In the beginning, it is not really important on which surface you train and compete, because priorities are the quality of coaching and atmosphere on the court.
Later on, it is necessary to have a chance to practice on the surface that you will be competing at, to have experienced coaches and to have an opportunity to play practice matches with opponents of different styles and levels in order to be able to transfer skills from the practice ground to a competitive environment.
Therefore, from time to time you will have to travel more to guarantee a proper training environment or you will have to change your club completely because of the requirements of your budget.
Tennis is a hard sport for the body and mind. Players practice and compete all year long on different surfaces, using different balls, playing against different styles, travelling to various countries and dealing with challenging weather conditions.
To avoid serious injuries or mental burnout, players must guarantee recovery opportunities to maintain a proper physical and mental state. At a young age, static stretching and foam roller exercises are enough to help in the recovery process, but at a more advanced level, doing ice baths, having massage or going to sauna are necessary techniques to deal with fatigue after training sessions or competition.
It is always about the budget… Unfortunately, tennis is a costly sport, so when you see the pure numbers of creating a tennis champion, you can quickly resist the idea of developing the next one.
Let’s be clear, in most cases parents have to cover everything on their own — racquets, strings, court fees, coaching fees, recovery activities, travel costs, and many more expenses that can amount to thousands of dollars every month.
Fortunately, you may not need to possess all the money right here and right now and probably you may even not have to possess that money in the future. In the beginning, you have to pay for everything, but the better your child gets, the more help you are likely to receive from associations, clubs, academies and sponsors, so that you will be able to focus on the sport. However, if you don’t receive this help, you will have to calculate the budget and decide which areas are the most important.
If you want to be a professional tennis player, you have to accept the fact that you will be away from your home most of the time. Of course, it is not like this right from the beginning. Regional or national tournaments will take place in your country, so it is much easier to work out the logistics. On the other hand, when you get to an advanced level, even as a junior, airplane will become your main form of transport. Travelling around the world and competing on different continents is something normal to tennis players, so you should be prepared for that.
This article shows you the most important areas that you have to know to plan a successful tennis career. It wasn’t my intention to scare you or make you doubt your chances of competing at the highest level. My goal is to provide you with information, so that you can plan everything and find your individual path. It is not going to be easy, but it is definitely worth it to try to give your best both on the court and off the court and one day possibly win a Grand Slam trophy.
To learn more from coach Marcin Bieniek, join his on-demand video training program and get a 30% discount with the code WTBPROMO. Also, visit our Tennis Tips page to learn how to improve specific shots and skills, handle pressure, adapt your game to all surfaces and weather conditions, choose the most appropriate equipment, and much more.