I have heard various answers to this question ranging from 3 hours to 3,500. The answer is 10,000 depending on the individual. Most professionals had around 13,000 hours of related development before making a career out of their chosen field.
Children in particular, but in certain cases adults, desire to achieve various goals in life without realizing the effort, discipline, sacrifice and commitment needed to achieve excellence.
Want to become a famous dancer, chef, musician, tennis player? Let’s look at what it takes to be an expert at tennis. This doesn’t mean you will become a professional player but it will give you a good idea of the path you need to take.
The calculation includes cross training activities (other sports that improve movement, fitness and concentration), watching the game on television and live, dreaming big, visualization, positive thought patterns and technical, physical, mental and psychological development.
Say that you begin your journey in Grade 1 taking 8 and under class once a week for a 33 week period. 33 x 0.5 hour = 16.5 hours. You play soccer twice a week for an hour during season. 16 x 2 hours = 32 hours. (Total 48.5 hours)
In Grade 2 you increase the 8 and under class to twice per week. 33 x 1 hour, you play soccer again 16 x 2 hours and you play basketball 16 x 2 hours. (Total 97 hours)
In Grade 3 you move to beginner tennis 33 x 1 hour, you start a half hour private 33 x 0.5, you play soccer and basketball as normal and start playing chess (great for concentration) 20 x 0.5 hours. (Total 123 hours)
In Grade 4 you catch the tennis bug. You move into an intermediate group twice a week 33 x 2 hours, you do a private lesson for an hour 33 x 1 hour, you play school tennis 16 x 1.5 hours = 24 hours and you play with a friend or family member on the weekend 40 x 1.5 hours = 60 hours. You play 2 weeks of tennis at summer camp (50 hours) You play soccer, basketball and chess as usual. (Total 307 hours)
In Grade 5 you move into a lower advanced group twice a week. 33 x (2+2) =132. You increase your private lesson to 2 x 1 hours per week and take them 45 times a year (90 hours). You have 6 weeks at summer camp (150 hours) and play 5 junior tournaments (around 50 hours). You play school tennis and matches and play soccer, basketball, chess and start track. (100 hours) You practice with a friend once a week. (60 hours) (Total 582 hours)
Let’s say that in Grade 6 and 7 you focus entirely on tennis so you spend less time doing soccer and basketball but you play more tournaments and start cycling for fitness. I will give you 700 hours for both years.
The total hours you have spent developing yourself from Grade 1 to Grade 7 (48.5 + 97 + 123 + 307 + 582 + 700 + 700 = 2527.5 hours) I will give you the benefit of doubt that you have watched tennis live and on television, kept a diary of your training patterns, results and goals. Let’s call it 2,750 hours.
By this stage your technical development needs to be close to perfect so that you can focus your attention on the physical, mental and psychological part of the game. This includes fitness as well as practice and tournament match play.
As a 12 year old this gives you 6 years to add 7,250 hours to your tennis development to reach 10,000 hours. A girl who wants to turn professional needs to put in more hours as she needs to peak at a younger age (18-22) where as a boy peaks around (24 years).
This means in 6 years you need an average of 1,208 hours per year of time. This is difficult to fit in around school work as well as time to socialize and relax.
Be aware of what it takes to excel at something and show respect to those who have achieved in their specific fields. Give thanks to your parents who support you in your desire to achieve and know that your coach lives with you as you go through ups and downs on your chosen path.
Good luck to all of you as you strive for excellence on the tennis court and in your life.