July 1st, 2014

Why Would You Want Your Kids to Play Tennis?

General News

Guest blogger Javier Palenque of Miami writes for www.TennisConsult.com — “Tennis blog. Advice from tennis coaches and experts.” He is also the father of “a talented 10 year old,” and blogs advice on “how to find a good tennis coach, a tennis academy and develop a great tennis player.” 


Odds-beating teenager Genie Bouchard (photo: Jose Medina)


* The odds of becoming a pro are 2 in 10000 or 0.0002. That does not seem possible.

* Break-even for a pro is a No. 150 ranking or approximately $160K/year. ‘Dad how  much do you make a year?’

* It takes 4-8 years to reach the Top 200, at a cost of $160K/year, that is between $640K-$1,28M. ‘Mary, how much is our house worth?’

* The cost to train per year is approximately $12K low end by age 15, you spent that easily in 5-6 yrs. Roughly $60K. ‘How many mutual funds can you buy with 12K per year?’

* Only 7% of the Top 100 juniors in the world will be pros, and only 1% will be Top 20. Top in the world, not the USA. ‘Hey John, did you win state yet?’

* Until you win, you need to front-end all expenses, ouch! ‘But, I only make…’

* 10,000 hrs. spent training by age 18, with odds of 0.0002? ‘Five hours a day for 10 years, I should learn to code…’

When one looks at the cold facts, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to aspire to be a professional player, and the cost and investment of time is just mind blowing.

Add to this list the randomness of injuries, bad coaching, mental factors, etc. These variables and experience combined with the real facts make the decision to pursue a pro career delusional. But, none of those horrible stats are why I encourage both of my kids to play tennis and to play it extremely well.

I want my kids to play tennis, because I feel that there is no other sport that will prepare them for a life where they need to practice everyday, compete every other weekend, win and lose, laugh and cry, become part of a team, make friends, and of course exercise daily and learn their nutrition in an obese country — and lastly devote their daily life to bettering themselves, knowing full well that there are many other players better than them.

You see, when my kids are practicing hard every day, I, on the way home, make sure to relate the practice to life in the future. Let’s say he was on fire that day working towards a big competition. I tell my son how I’m preparing for a huge presentation at work or pursuing a business account that we need for the business.

Sometimes, also he has to deal with a big loss. Well, at work I also have those experiences and often have to deal with them. Their tennis experience, if properly focused, will help them in the future, I assure you.

As I look forward a couple of years from now I see my kid at 15, practicing very hard, being fit, focused, worried about how to increase the speed of his serve, savvy with his nutrition, and working extremely hard everyday towards a goal — as opposed to other kids in his class, who with too much time in their hands, are looking for ways to get high, getting in trouble, out of shape, drinking, etc. I think tennis keeps them focused, determined, challenged, and by the time they turn 18 ready to be champions in life.

Through tennis, I will have taught them the value of time and how to use it. You see, at 18 my kids will have learned the principles needed to succeed in life: independence, self reliance, decision making, hard work, balance, determination, standing up after a big fall, disappointment and joy. They will experience the cost of winning and the sacrifices needed to get there, and they will learn from losing and having to get up from it and understand that losing is only feedback.

In essence, they will be properly trained to succeed in their lives. Unlike other parents, who falsely dream a pro career for their kids and the riches tennis will bring, I use tennis to make my kids better citizens, better sons and daughters, someday a better father and mother, better people all around. Better Americans. While it would be great to get a scholarship to a great school, the emphasis is on a great academic school, not any school that has tennis.

We know that the time we spend together, the adventure of tennis made us closer as a family, kept us working towards a common goal and made our journey as parents and kids the most enjoyable way to spend time together, to bond, to get better, to grow as champions, to make new friends, to travel and stay in lousy hotels because that’s all we could afford, to play younger and older competitors and to laugh together. To live the journey of this experience we know as parenting and life.

Wow, it seems to me that I have found a way to prepare my kids for their professional careers, and it is not in tennis. I’ll take tennis’ horrible odds, knowing full well that for my kids there is simply no other way I would have chosen to spend our time together, to prepare them for when they leave our nest, to be able to fly for themselves and be champions in their own life.

I love you tennis, I love you.

Read more from Javier at www.TennisConsult.com.