In our recent interview with a pro tennis player (embedded below), one parent asked a question which probably identifies with 99% of tennis players/tennis families around the world.
The ever increasing, and at times, exorbitant cost of training and coaching?!
Why is it so hard to find proper facilities and training at a nominal cost, which can actually deliver results? Also, does a higher cost generally mean delivery of better results?
A Brief History
Tennis has its origins in the aristocracy. In the 12th century, Louis X of France would play ‘A game of palm‘ in his palace and it is regarded as the origin of the sport we know today. The modern game of tennis made its debut sometime around the 16th century with Henry VIII of England taking an interest in it. It was exclusively played indoors on hardwood floors.
It wasn’t until the invention of the lawn mower in 1830, that grass fields were able to be cleared out to convert into courts for playing. It’s not a surprise that owning new technology, and having large swathes of land to hit a ball across, does require one to have substantial financial resources.
Tennis today is a multi-billion dollar industry. With big time sponsors and a lot of money being made by the Top 100 men and women, broadcasters, associations, tournament organizers, equipment manufacturers and promoters. It’s no wonder that the price of getting into the sport has slowly been rising as well. The frequency with which new versions of tennis racquets, shoes and strings are released feels like they are trying to compete with Apple’s next iPhone.
Coaching itself is a huge money spinner for a lot of academies that have sprung up not just in our city, but around the world. Hyderabad has seen more academies open up in the past 4 years than they have in the last 20 years put together!
The major question on everyone’s mind is, Is the coaching up to par with what is being charged? Or simply, Why can’t it be cheaper?
Is the coaching up to par? As a country wise average we are at around 40 – 60% in terms of intl. standards. There’s still a lot that many academies simply don’t focus on enough with players, starting at the fundamentals all the way up to tennis specific fitness. Let’s not even get into the concepts of mental training, game play etc… which basically don’t exist here.
Would a national training center help make a difference? Most cities have a tennis stadium used for bigger tournaments and events. Even though some players may get the chance to hit on them, there’s hardly any top level coaches available on site. The players cannot make the best use of them simply by showing up, there has to be guidance. For which there has to be a method and a plan.
With a plan there can be a general consensus on the actual cost of training. This could perhaps standardize prices and give some comfort to families that come from medium income groups who wish to pursue a chance at a pro career.
I believe if India wants to ever find itself at the top levels of tennis a guideline for player development plan needs to be put in place. At least with a set of tools that show a path, most coaches around the country would be able to bring up the junior levels to around 80% of international standards. That in itself would be a great victory to start with.
Tennis may have had it’s origins in the noble palaces of kingdoms gone, today it is something which anyone from any background can pick up. At times it may seem like the odds are against you in terms of finances, this is where you need to sit down and look at the bigger picture and chart out an honest plan for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, you never know who may have the same belief as you do.
Tomorrow, I’ll share why it’s not foolish to dream about a pro career even if literally everything is against you.
Video of Interview