A friend of mine chose to have his kid skip the last little league baseball season in order for him to try basketball, something they haven’t had time for in the past because of the demands of little league. His plan is to have him continue to train in baseball by doing private lessons. He feels his son will benefit in many ways from this experiment; he will be able to try a new sport, it will reduce burnout and overuse injury, but most importantly, he’s convinced his son’s baseball skills will actually increase. I couldn’t agree more.
(TO READ ABOUT ONE FAMILY’S DECISION TO SKIP CLUB – READ HERE)
I have given all three of my own girls privates or small group training for nearly every sport they have played – since they were as young as seven. I know this sounds excessive. Crazy. Too intense. Maybe it is. But it has done wonders for my kid’s growth in their sports. My philosophy is why invest time, money, and effort playing on a team if you don’t want to be really good at it? AND it’s so much more fun if you are!
I’m not saying my kid’s team coaches haven’t been good. It’s just that it is impossible for one coach to be able to correct and teach individual skills in a large group setting. Ever watched one of your kid’s practices? Then you’ve seen a coach give a direction or teach a skill and watched 7 of the 10 kids do it wrong. Then your kid waits in the long line, gets three attempts, does one okay and two completely wrong. It’s onto the next drill. With teams practicing once a week, how can we expect our kids to improve?
That is where private training comes in. Now you might be saying, people are crazy to spend that kind of money and that private training costs a fortune. You would be right. But...I’ve found four creative ways to make it more affordable.
- Make your own private lessons semi-private: Invite a handful of kids (not more than 3-4 or it will defeat the purpose), train together and share the cost. Not all trainers are willing to do this, but most will. If four kids pitch in and each pay $25, it makes a $100 per hour session much more manageable.
- Your private instructor doesn’t have to be a pro: Find an older kid (13-18) who plays in the same club or is an older brother or sister of a teammate or even post in a Mom’s website. We use an incredible 13-year-old who works with our 7 year old for $10 an hour. It’s the best money ever spent.
- Do shorter Sessions: Even just thirty minutes of focused practice on what your child needs to improve upon is enough to make a huge difference. This can cut the price in half if they are willing to do it. If they aren’t find another child to take the second
half of the lesson.
- Offer trade for training: Do you have something they might need or want. I once created a promotional video (I’m a TV producer) for a basketball trainer in exchange for privates.
If you can get your child private training sessions, I think the more, the better. But even if it’s only occasionally, you will see a vast improvement. The more a child improves, the more they enjoy the games, the more they want to play!