How to Become a Wimbledon Ball Boy or Girl (BBG)


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Are you interested in becoming a Wimbledon ball boy or girl, or a BBG as they’re known in training camp? It makes sense, the experience would be almost matchless, but to make it as a BBG you’ll have to be on the ball. The selection and training processes are extremely rigorous. Only those with the necessary self-confidence and commitment should apply.

The Initial Selection Process for BBGs

To be considered for full BBG training, candidates meeting the detailed criteria must be put forth from the participating schools and the Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative. There are no height or weight restrictions, but potential BBGs must be physically fit.

Candidates put forth are usually in Year 9 or 10, the average age of a BBG being 15 years. They must have no exams during the tournament and must be able to give priority to the arduous training, which usually begins at 4pm and sometimes includes Sunday sessions.

Being studious is an advantage. Potential BBGs must know the tennis rulebook inside out and must have successfully completed the eight module online training programme before being put forth as a candidate. Absence due to illness, school trips or work experience lasting more than two weeks can result in dismissal from the training programme.
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Progression to Full BBG Training

Candidates hoping to qualify for full training must first pass a written test on Wimbledon tennis rules and scoring. They must also demonstrate the discipline and ability to carry out drills and instructions and attend a court session to gain important firsthand experience.

Further tests for fitness, agility and reflexes take the form of a circuit, immediately followed by a three minute stand still; shuttle runs to gauge speed and recovery times; and various exercises measuring vital hand and eye co-ordination.

Prospective BBGs are then tested on a range of movements outlined within the online training programme. Candidates must be able to adopt the correct stance and pivot using the taught foot movement. They must also be able to march, feed, receive and communicate that they have no tennis balls left in the correct manner.

Candidates then face a series of crucial ball rolling tests. They must roll three flat balls and three straight balls consecutively, with all balls arriving in the order of release. To gauge accuracy, candidates must throw three long balls into a bin placed on its side; and then must roll two balls flat and along the line to strike the designated target.

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What the Full BBG Training Entails

Those chosen to join the Wimbledon BBG training camp, run by director of training Anne Rundle, have done very well indeed. From around 700 applicants, just 250 are selected. 90 are picked from around 160 BBGs from previous tournaments. The other 160 are chosen from 540 fresh Year 9 and 10 applicants.

Initial training is held at the AELTC from February until the Easter break. Each trainee BBG attends a training session once a fortnight and four court training sessions held before Easter at the Covered Courts.

The main training sessions are held at Wimbledon after the Easter break until the middle of June. There are four two hour training sessions per week, each training group comprised of 60 trainee BBGs.

During the training sessions each prospective BBG undergoes constant evaluation in the key areas of fitness, circuits, ball skills, movement exercises, set pieces and scoring. Candidates must prove agility of both body and mind to make it as a BBG.

The Championships Begin…

No doubt even the best prepared and most confident BBGs get lumps in their throat when they first walk out on to a Wimbledon court, setting the scene for the game that follows. Not only must they maintain absolute concentration, they must make split-second decisions in front of huge crowds and the greatest players to play the game. This means knowing the tennis rulebook inside out. That’s a lot to keep under their cap.

The BBGs work in teams of six. Two centres stand at the nets, while four bases stand at each of the court’s corners. Before the championships begin, Anne Rundle chooses four teams of six BBGs who take responsibility for Centre and No. 1 Courts.

The other show courts are the responsibility of another six teams of six BBGs. The rest of the courts are manned by the remaining BBGs. Usually, BBGs spend an hour on court, followed by an hour off court, in constant rotation from 10.30am until the last game of the day ends.

Are You Ready for Action?

If you attend one of the participating schools, or the Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative, and think you’ve got what it takes, why not take a swing at becoming a Wimbledon BBG? It would be the summer experience to ace all others and many former BBGs go on to become trainers at the Wimbledon BBG training camp. With study, exercise and discipline you could soon find yourself throwing to Federer, while secretly willing Murray to win.

Many thanks to Ladbrokes for their help in putting this article together.

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