We have all heard about the huge amounts of money tennis players can earn. According to Forbes, Djokovic’s career prize money is $170 million. (source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brettknight/2023/06/11/3-french-opens-23-grand-slams-510-million-novak-djokovics-record-breaking-career-by-the-numbers)
And Roger Federer, thoughout his career, has made roughly $1 billion, before taxes and agents' fees. (source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brettknight/2022/09/15/roger-federer-is-retiring-as-tennis-career-earnings-leader-heres-how-much-money-hes-made)
But what about table tennis?
Popular in more than 200 countries table tennis is an Olympic Sport. But can you make a pretty penny playing table tennis?
Some players are cashing in big time. Zhang Jike, according to Sports Flu made $8.7 million USD in 2016 alone.
Investopedia writes that tournament purses can range from $2,800 to $33,000.
In 2017 the ITTF introduced a new format for the World Tours with even more prize money. The World Tour now has two tiers plus an end-of-year Grand Finals.
The two tiers are the World Tour (6 events) and the World Tour Platinum (6 events) which feed into the end of the year Grand Finals. Eligibility to compete in a World Tour event stems from competing at International Open tournaments which earn the players grand Prix points (as well as decent prize money).
At the annual ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, invited players compete for total prize money of US$1,000,000. This is the biggest total prize money event in the ITTF calendar.
The German Open 2017, for example, offered the winner of the Men's and Women's Singles a very nice $24,000 USD. And the prize money in that tournament extended right down to the round of 32 at $900 USD each.
Back home in Australia, most tournaments are not so rich. Winnings for Open Singles in Club Tournaments range from $350 for the Toowoomba Open to $1.000 for the Brisbane Open (2022). The Brisbane Open offers equal prize money for both Men's and Women's open events.
While other tournaments, such as the Queensland Open and the Mornington Open, also offer the same prize money as the Women's Singles event, most don't.
To my knowledge, the Brisbane Table Tennis Open is the most lucrative club tournament this year. This year the Brisbane Open has offered a generous Open Singles purse (cash and prizes). Click here for more info about the Brisbane Open.
Perhaps the most likely way to make money from table tennis is not winning at tournaments. If you are a well-known player then you could vie for sponsorships. Most famous table tennis brands such as Butterfly, Tibhar, and Stiga offer player sponsorships. Locally sponsorships often come in the form of discounted equipment, rather than in cash.
Or perhaps coaching might be a better way to make money with table tennis. Pre-eminent coaches can command $60 or $70 per hour (or more!) for one-on-one coaching.
Or better still a career in sports administration may be just the ticket. With a master's degree in sports administration, you can expect to earn anywhere from $45,000 to $100,000+ annually.