Australian Open Training Program

The Australian Open Ballkids Training Program is the invitation only training program designed to educate children in the skills and abilities required to become AO Ballkids.

The top 400 performers from the AO Level 2 Trials, regardless of previous experience, will be invited to take up a place in the training program in late May. The training program provides;

  • Regular training sessions over a 6 month period from July to November
  • Access to specialised and knowledgable trainers
  • Monthly progress reports
  • Online training resources and videos


Training is the key opportunity for Ballkid applicants to practice and hone their skills, and get used to performing consistently over an extensive period of time. Ballkids are actively encouraged to engage with staff, seek feedback and use the on court time to ensure that their knowledge and skills are up to date and they have clarified any possible areas of concern.

How many applicants are selected for the AO Training Squad?

Approximately 400 applicants from the Level 2 trials will be invited to join the Train-on Squad and commence training July.

From this, approximately 310 Ballkids will be invited to take part in the Australian Open as a member of our Tournament Squad. Invitations to join the Tournament Squad will be issued at the end of October. 

AO BALLKIDS ONLY; acceptance & participation in the training program DOES NOT guarantee the child’s selection into the Tournament Squad(s). Children must rank within the top 310 places within the AO Ballkid Performance Rank in order to be selected.

The AO Ballkid Performance Rank is a cumulative ranking of the child’s performance at Training Session 2, 3 & 4.

What is the benefit of being part of the AO Training Squad?

Participation in the Training Squad gives the Ballkids the chance to practice and hone their skills under the direction of our Ballkid trainers, many of who are ex-Ballkids themselves. The Ballkid Training Program is a specialist training program that can only be delivered by our team of experience staff; this is not something that can be taught by your local coach or sports teacher.

As mentioned, feedback will be continually provided throughout training (in the form of a progress report) and Ballkids are encourages to use this to their advantage to identify and improve specific skills and abilities throughout the training period.

For those children who may ultimately be unsuccessful in making the Main Squad, participation in the Ballkids Training Program puts them in an excellent position should they wish to reapply the following year. In addition to being exempt from Level 1 Selection Trials, they will have the benefit of having received 4 months of specialist training with our team

What happens at the end of the October / Training Session 4?

At the end of training session 4, each child’s scores from Training Sessions 2 to 4 will be collated the final AO Performance Ranking for the Training Squad will be formalized.

Based on this report, which for integrity purposes, is not disclosed to participants, 312 invitations to the join the AO Ballkids Tournament Squad will be issued, via email, at 4.00pm on Thursday 1 November 2018.

In addition to the above, 24 invitations will be issued to participants to form the AO Waiting List and also the squad who will work the Kooyong International during January (January 8 to 11). Should a child from the waiting list be called up into the Tournament Squad, they will not be replaced in the Kooyong Squad.

What happens if I am not successful in making the AO Tournament Squad?

For those participants who are not selected to form the Tournament Squad, there are still chances to work as Ballkids during January.

As of 2018, the AO Ballkids Program is responsible for providing ballkids to assist with the Melbourne Wheelchair Open, held each year during the January. Hosted at the Hume Tennis Club between January 14 and 18, this event is the lead in event for wheelchair tennis players and is a great participation tournament for participants in our training program. It also allows all participants in the AO Training Program the chance to showcase their ballkid skills at an event during January; whilst the AO is the pinnacle of achievements, both the Kooyong International and Melbourne Open attract world famous names (in their respective fields) and great events to participate in and gain tournament practice.

Participation in the Melbourne Open is voluntary; participants who are offered the chance to work the Melbourne Open are not under any obligation to take up a position within the Ballkid Squad for this event.

How is the AO Tournament Squad selected?

Ballkids will be selected for the Tournament Squad based on the following:

  • An AO Performance Ranking in the top 312 at the end of Training Session 4
  • Consistent effort, behaviour and attitude, both on and off court and willingness to go above and beyond
  • Completion of all compulsory elements of training requirements
  • Upholding the Ballkids Code of Behaviour through all training sessions, on and off the court


Is training compulsory?

Attendance at training is compulsory for all participants in the Training Program; in the event a child is injured or unwell, they may ‘make up’ the training session at the next available training session.

AO BALLKIDS TRAINING ONLY; All make up sessions authorized for training between July and October MUST be completed before the final session on October 28 2018; this is to ensure that all minimum training requirements for participants are completed before final selections take place on Monday 29 October*.

Failure to complete the required number of training sessions by October 29 may result in the child's exclusion from selection into the AO Ballkids Tournament Squad.

*Children who are ill / injured on the final weekend of training prior to selection will not be penalized by this; on the provision a medical certificate is provided by no later than 5pm on Monday 29 October, they will still be eligible for selection.

What happens during a Training Session?

During a training session, children will work with our coaching teams to refine and improve their existing skills over a minimum, 90 minutes on court^. Our coaching team will deliver training sessions in line with the AO & SI Ballkid Training Curriculum*.

  • ^AO Ballkid Training Session 1 & 5 will last longer than 2 hours in total.
  • *AOS event training plans vary from state to state; local teams will provide more information on their individual training programs at a later date.


Over the course of the training program, ballkids will be educated in all skills associated with the role of the ballkid. During this time, ballkids should ask questions of the coaching team in order to ensure that they are fully aware of the requirements of being a ballkid.

Ballkid responsibilities at Training;

  • Give 100 effort on and off the court
  • Actively ask questions & seek advice from trainers
  • Act as hitters throughout the session (working as a team)


Ballkid Staff responsibilities at Training;

  • Deliver verbal feedback to each individual child at training
  • Complete 1 report card for all children on their assigned court (AO & SI Ballkids Only)
  • Answer questions & provide guidance


With regards to training, children will essentially get as much out of participation in this as they are willing to put in. Children are always actively encouraged to ask questions of the coaching staff, seek clarification when uncertain and enjoy the experience along the way.