Do Ball Boys Get Paid in Tennis? Explained

Ball boys and girls are an integral part of tennis matches, tasked with retrieving balls and keeping the court clean. But the question remains: do they get paid for their services? The answer is not a simple one.

While some tournaments, such as the U.S. Open, do pay their ballpersons an hourly wage, others do not. In fact, many ballpersons volunteer their time for the love of the sport and the chance to be up close and personal with their favorite tennis pros.

However, even when ballpersons are not paid, they often receive other perks such as free tickets to matches and the opportunity to interact with tennis stars.

In this article, we will delve into the world of ball boys and girls in tennis, exploring the ins and outs of their role and the compensation they receive (or don’t receive) for their hard work.

Overview of Ball Boys in Tennis

Ball boys are an integral part of the game of tennis. They are responsible for ensuring that the game runs smoothly by retrieving balls, providing towels, and assisting players in any way possible. The role of ball boys in tennis is crucial, and they are often seen as the unsung heroes of the game.

Roles and Responsibilities of Ball Boys

The roles and responsibilities of ball boys in tennis are numerous. They are responsible for retrieving balls that go out of play, providing towels to players, and holding umbrellas to provide shade for the players during breaks. They also assist in setting up the court before the match and maintaining it throughout the game.

During the match, ball boys must remain alert and attentive, keeping an eye on the ball at all times. They must be quick to respond to any requests from the players and must have a good understanding of the rules of the game to ensure that they do not interfere with play.

History of Ball Boys in Tennis

The use of ball boys in tennis dates back to the early 20th century. In the early days of the sport, players were responsible for retrieving their own balls. However, as the game grew in popularity, it became necessary to have dedicated ball boys to ensure that the game ran smoothly.

The first ball boys were typically young boys who were members of the local tennis club. Over time, the role of ball boys became more formalized, and today, ball boys are typically recruited from local schools and trained to perform their duties at major tournaments.

Today, ball boys are an essential part of the game of tennis, and their contributions are greatly appreciated by players and fans alike.

Do Ball Boys Get Paid In Tennis

Read: How Do Tennis Balls Last

Compensation for Ball Boys in Tennis

Do Ball Boys Get Paid?

Ball boys and girls (BBGs) are an essential part of any tennis tournament. They are responsible for retrieving balls that go out of bounds, providing towels to players, and other tasks that help keep the game running smoothly. The question of whether ball boys get paid or not is a common one. The answer is that it depends on the tournament. Some tournaments pay their ball boys, while others do not.

How Much Do Ball Boys Get Paid?

For the tournaments that do pay their ball boys, the amount varies. In some cases, the ball boys receive a small stipend, while in others, they are paid an hourly wage. For example, Wimbledon offers a salary of £200 for the entire tournament, while the US Open pays ball boys $7-$11 per hour. The Australian Open pays its ball boys a rate of 7-11€ per hour.

Factors That Affect Ball Boys’ Compensation

Several factors can affect how much ball boys get paid. The size and prestige of the tournament play a significant role. Major tournaments like Wimbledon and the US Open tend to pay their ball boys more than smaller tournaments. The number of hours worked and the specific duties assigned to the ball boys can also affect their compensation. Some tournaments may offer additional perks, such as free meals or merchandise, in addition to pay.

It is said that, while not all tournaments pay their ball boys, those that do provide compensation that can vary widely. The amount paid depends on several factors, including the tournament’s size, prestige, and the specific duties assigned to the ball boys.

Training and Selection of Ball Boys

How Are Ball Boys Selected?

The selection process for ball boys and girls varies depending on the tournament. The Australian Open, for example, receives over 2,500 applications and selects 360 ball kids from different nationalities. Wimbledon, on the other hand, selects around 250 ball boys and girls from participating London-area schools.

The selection process usually involves a rigorous screening process that includes interviews, physical tests, and demonstrations of ball-retrieval skills. Candidates are also evaluated on their ability to work as a team, their communication skills, and their professionalism.

What Kind of Training Do Ball Boys Receive?

Once selected, ball boys and girls undergo intensive training to prepare them for the tournament. They are trained on how to retrieve balls quickly and efficiently, how to handle the equipment, and how to communicate with the players and officials. They are also trained on how to handle emergency situations, such as when a player is injured or when there is a disruption in play. Ball boys and girls are required to be alert at all times and to anticipate the needs of the players.

Skills Required for Being a Ball Boy

Being a ball boy or girl requires a certain set of skills, including physical fitness, agility, and quick reflexes. They must be able to move quickly and change direction at a moment’s notice. In addition to physical skills, ball boys and girls must also have good communication skills and be able to work well as part of a team. They must be able to follow instructions and be professional at all times.

Overall, the selection process and training for ball boys and girls are designed to ensure that they are able to perform their duties efficiently and professionally, while also ensuring the safety and well-being of the players.

Read: Why Are Tennis Balls Fuzzy 

The Future of Ball Boys in Tennis

Will Ball Boys Be Replaced by Technology?

As technology advances, there has been speculation that ball boys could be replaced by machines. However, it is unlikely that this will happen anytime soon. While technology can certainly help with tasks such as tracking the ball’s trajectory, it cannot replicate the human element of the job. Ball boys not only retrieve balls but also perform other duties such as providing towels and drinks to players. These tasks require human interaction and cannot be replicated by machines.

What Changes Can Be Made to Improve the Role of Ball Boys?

While the role of ball boys is unlikely to be replaced by technology, there are still ways in which the role can be improved. One way is to increase the pay for ball boys. Currently, ball boys are paid a small stipend, but this does not reflect the importance of their role in the game. Increasing their pay would not only be a way to show appreciation for their work but also attract more qualified applicants.

Another way to improve the role of ball boys is to provide them with better training. While ball boys are selected based on their physical abilities, they also need to be trained in the specific tasks they will be performing. Providing them with better training would not only improve their performance but also increase their confidence in their abilities.


While the role of ball boys in tennis may not change drastically in the future, there are still ways in which the role can be improved. Increasing their pay and providing them with better training are just a few examples. As the game of tennis continues to evolve, so too will the role of ball boys.

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