As baseball players, we can all probably use some one-on-one time with a coach now and again. But baseball teams are large and there are many positions--it can be difficult to get personal attention during practice. As a result, there are times when it may be worthwhile to look for a private baseball instructor, whether just for a few sessions or for the long term. But if you're interested in hiring someone for private lessons, how do you choose?
Here are 4 factors you should take into consideration when you're looking for an instructor:
This doesn't just mean experience as an instructor, it also means experience in the particular area in which you're looking to improve. Are you an infielder or outfielder? Pitcher or catcher? Are you going through a bit of a hitting slump generally or having a hard time with a particular pitch?
First, you want to look for a baseball coach who has experience instructing in general. How long has the potential person been offering lessons? How many players do they teach? Is it something he/she does for a career or does he just do it on the side for some extra cash?
After you establish that the prospective individual has experience teaching, does he/she have experience in the area in which you want help? Particularly if you're looking for pitching or hitting lessons, it can be easy to find instructors devoted solely to those areas. But if you're looking for positional help elsewhere, you might have to search a little bit harder and ask more questions. For example, if you're a first baseman, you want a baseball instructor who fully understands the ins and outs of that position, or you won't be getting as much as you could out of the lessons. Make sure you ask anyone you're considering hiring details about their experience and knowledge. And don't be afraid to ask for referrals or testimonials, too, as they can often trump time served.
2. Distance & Time Commitment
How far are you willing to travel? And together with that, how often are you hoping to have lessons? If you only want a couple lessons total or a lesson every other week, you might be willing to travel a bit further, but if you're looking for a baseball coach whom you can see multiple times a week, you'll probably be more interested in someone closer to home.
Depending on where you live, though, you might have to travel a bit further regardless of your desired schedule. In areas that are more rural, there may not be a ton of baseball instructors around, so you may need to expand your search distance-wise. If you do, it's even more important that the coach whom you choose to have private lessons with is someone who has a lot of experience and knowledge--you really want to be getting the most out of the time you have with that person when you have to travel further to see him/her.
Ask yourself what kind of learning style you have and what type of person you'll respond best to. If you like having someone loud and in your face, look for that type of baseball instructor. If you're a more sensitive person or just appreciate a quieter personality, it's okay to look for that in an instructor as well. Don't be afraid to ask any potential baseball instructor questions about his/her style. You're paying this person for their time and yours, and you want to actually like and respond to the person with whom you'll be working.
The amount of money you'll be spending on any potential instructor is always a consideration. The going rate for lessons will be depend on a number of factors--what part of the country you're in, whether you're in an urban or rural area, how old you are, etc. It might be a good idea to do some research before you even start looking for an individual baseball coach just to see what the average rate is in your particular area. Then, when you start looking at prospective baseball instructors, you'll have a better idea of how their rates compare to the average in the area. If they charge more than average, is the extra charge justifiable, and is it worth that much to you? If they charge less than average, why?
All of these are important factors to consider when you're looking for a private instructor. It's a good idea, before you even start looking, to really think about which of them is most important to you and which of them you may be willing to compromise on. When you have a well thought out idea of what you want before you start your search, you'll be better prepared to ultimately make a decision on the right private baseball instructor for you.
If you have any of your own compelling factors that you consider when making this choice or would recommend to someone else to use, we'd love if you'd leave them in the comments below!
Mike McCarthy, Co-Founder - The Baseball Zone