This is like catch 22 for parents. When we ask coaches or look for big pro players comments, they all have same thing to say – Junior ranking points do not matter and therefore chasing ranking points should be a big no no.
But in real life same people / coaches pay attention only to kids with higher ranking points. Kids with higher ranking points get to go to big stage tournaments and get better experience. They also get better training from better coaches and also get to practice more with better players. The whole talent development program is based on ranking system. The support system is divided into three tiers. The top 50 ranked in their age group nationally are tier3; top 15 tier 2; top 1 or 2 are in tier 1. Obviously better support for better ranked players.
I don’t blame development managers. They have no other way of knowing which kid they should pay more attention or resources, which is offcourse limited.
But that does not help parents.
The ranking system itself is not the problem, in-fact in my view it keeps kids motivated and competitive while providing a reliable (to some extent) benchmarking for kids progress to parents/coaches.
The main problem is parents own resources, time and money, are very limited as well and it takes lot of time and money travelling for ranking tournaments (it can easily cost up to $1000 per tournament considering accommodation, food, petrol, etc ) (Some top rankers play 25+ tournaments in a year).
Time itself is also a very precious commodity especially with young kids; Young kids are not as good as older ones in recovering. They get tired easily and take longer to recover (both physically and mentally). For a tournament, almost whole week is spent (even if they only played a couple of matches in tournament) before they come back to practice court. So the obvious question for parents is – should they use that limited time for kids improvements or travel around playing tournaments?
There is no easy answer, as I am finding now. It is very tempting to stay ahead in ranking but I do not want to do that at the cost of my son’s improvements.
For me, at the moment, I am looking to complete one full circle of his game development (major strokes + physical + mental), which is first step before he can be full on tournaments.
The talent development manager has asked him to target top ten nationally before end of this year; then only he would be interested to support him officially.
It would be interesting nonetheless 🙂