There was a time when youth baseball consisted of one or two practices a week and maybe a couple games. If you wanted to get in more work, it fell to you and one of your parents to head out to the diamond. But youth sports has become big business over the last ten years or so. Anymore, it's not uncommon to hear other parents on your child's team talking about how much they are shelling out for some one-on-one baseball lessons. You may find yourself wondering if that's the key to getting your child to the next level, or if they are just a waste of money.
So what is the bottom line? Is it worth paying extra money in addition to what you already may be paying for someone to spend some extra time with your child? That depends a lot on where your young athlete is at, not only in age and development, but talent level and dedication.
Are Baseball Lessons Worth It?
There's no doubt that all the extra attention and specialized training kids get today is having an effect on the game, even at the highest level. But that doesn't make it an open and shut case.
Baseball lessons become a good idea when your athlete finds himself needing more of a challenge. That might be for a number of reasons. First, he may be nearing the point where his talent and his ability need more nurturing than what his team's coach may be able to give him. Or, he may simply need more individual attention to get through a particular sticking point in his development. That doesn't happen when your kid is just learning the game. At a young age, the volunteer parents working with a t-ball or coach-pitched baseball team probably have enough knowledge of the game to teach the fundamentals and to provide a fun, learning atmosphere to start out on the right development path. Many players, regardless of age, simply need more volume of training which is when we will try and persuade them to join group training programs to stretch their dollar over more training time.
When is it the Right Time?
As your child advances, however, they may start to outstrip what their coach or you as a parent may be able to give them. Then that may be the right time to start them on individual baseball lessons.
There may be other factors as well. Perhaps parent and child do not work well together when trying to get in a little extra work. Or, the child may simply be at an age (i.e. teenagers) where he is not as receptive to what a parent may be trying to work on him with, and they need an outside influence.
Baseball lessons may also be important when your player is getting ready to move up a level. The transition can be a difficult time in any young player's life, especially if they have not tasted great success at the previous one. Individualized work at this point can give them the boost they need and working one-on-one with someone who has been down that same path to help them through the ups and downs.
There is a definite time when baseball lessons are a bad idea, and parents and coaches need to be honest with themselves about them. If a player finds himself in a prolonged period of struggle, private baseball lessons may be just the ticket to help the player find their groove again. However, if those struggles are a sign of burnout, or decreasing interest in playing baseball, those lessons are going to do nothing but exacerbate their struggles. That is why parents need to approach these matters with an open mind. What is your child telling you? Do they want the extra work, or are they just capitulating to you as a parent to keep you happy? Is more always better? Quite often it is not and a focus in the opposite direction may be just what is needed at that time.
Factors to Consider When Seeking Baseball Lessons
Once you decide to take the plunge in to individual baseball lessons, there are three important factors to consider.
- Financial commitment. Depending on what level your child is playing at, you may already have made a huge financial commitment to your child's interest. In addition to league fees, there's equipment, a uniform, etc. With baseball lessons always being the most costly program per time spent, does it make sense to invest even more than you already are?
- Time commitment. Even if you only commit your young athlete to a couple of hours of baseball lessons per week, you have to consider it against how much time he already spends at practice. If your child lives and breathes the sport, baseball lessons may be a good idea. If it is going to take time away from other favorite activities, or more importantly come at an academic cost, they may not.
- Level of competition. Again, rarely does a 5-year-old need extra baseball lessons to stay competitive. However, your teenage son may be right on the cusp of making the traveling team. Then, one could say it makes more sense.
There is no easy answer when deciding if baseball lessons are right or wrong for your young athlete. Parents need to be honest with themselves and their baseball player before making the decision to commit more time and money to the sport, and be honest about what they hope to gain from them.