Parents – How many tournaments do you think Rafael Nadal played this year to secure No. 1 ranking in the world? 17. The W-L match score of 67-10 with 6 titles.
In 2004 when he was a teenager he played around 21 tournaments. During 2004 his ranking fluctuated between top 30s to 50s in the world. His W-L score in 2004 is 30-17. He won 1 title.
Let’s have a quick look at WTA scene. Karolina Pliskova is the current No.1 and she played around 21 tournaments this year with her W-L score being 53-18. She has 3 titles so far.
ITF where the teenagers play, today’s top 10 boys tournament average is around 19 tournaments for this year, and in ITF girls top 10 girls played approximately 20 tournaments this year.
Do these numbers give us some hint?
We have to stop here and ask you to count how many tournaments your child has played this year? Don’t make any judgment yet. However, chances are your immediate line of thinking might just be right but filled with some questions.
Play less and gain more scenario is the first impression that comes to our mind. Our findings show that it is probably a correct way of planning your child’s calendar in terms of a number of tournaments. Why? Please do read on.
Do you remember we recently published one way of drawing your child’s tournament schedule wrt type of tournaments they should be playing and why? If you have not yet visited that Drive, please do read TuPA Drive # 8 which is just below this article on the same page. This will help us to understand to some extent on how to decide which type of tournament to play and why but not how many. Having said that how many tournaments one should play still lingers around to be answered and hence this post.
Please see the below table that my team has put together after what they found when they researched this topic. Many advance tennis experts around the globe advocate something similar. One such person is Richard Schönborn who regularly talks about this fact in many ITF advance coaches programs, conferences and workshops around the globe. His work is phenomenal, and when parents have time, they should read his work. For those who will never get the time, please look at a table below. The crux is put together for you with probable reasons explained below the table as per his research.
Now, please note –
1) How Many Tournaments? The range of tournaments that most of the subject matter experts direct towards is 14 to 21 for U-12/U-14 and 15 to 24 for the U-14/U-16 category. My team has noticed a similar number of matches being played in ITF, ATP, WTA and even in junior national categories of other nations, particularly in EU.
2) Why? Please look at the image above and a sample calendar drawn for you. There are three phases in the calendar year depicted as Yellow, Green and Red.
a) Yellow Zone is Tournament Preparation Time – This is the time when you and your team work with the child towards tactical, technical, match training, practice matches, etc. During this time some tournaments are also played to see how your training has been or does the training needs some fine tuning. The idea is to move towards the green zone. Parents to take notes of their child’s play during Yellow zone tournaments and practice matches.
b) Green Zone is Serious Tournament Time – These are the tournaments you have been training for. Most of the tournament travel happens here if needed. Parents to take match notes during these tournaments, this is unconditionally critical.The idea should be to do well (good % of wins) while in the Green Zone.
c) Red Zone is Rest Time from Tournaments – Zero tournaments here. The child should be given a break for their body recovery, regeneration & general rest. This is the time for parents and team to look at the tournament notes more closely, planning the next areas of improvement in their child’s game. Doing regular but light tennis and full fitness training(based on age) to keep the good things of their game also falls under this zone.
This is also the time for the child to catch up with family members who have not met them in a while since they were busy, movies and friends. That part of life plays an important role in overall development of the tennis child.
You can draw your own calendar based on the tournament dates, however, please be careful about the burn rate of your child. Burn rate goes higher in terms of injuries, lack of interest in the sport, etc if the red zone is not the part of your calendar at all.
Last but not the least. In many tennis related studies, it is often seen that parents & teams that spend more time in making their child comprehensive in terms of technique, tactics and fitness as per their age, become to grow as a complete overall player with time.
Red & Yellow zone on your tournament calendar gives you and your team that opportunity to work towards the same.
Talk to your team if your child’s tournament calendar looks very different from above and try to understand the reasons and the logic behind it.