• Barragan-Perspective

5 Ways to Not Waste Money On Private Lessons

James Barragan-

If you pay for private lessons for your kid, you might be wasting your money. I’m a believer in good stewardship, and as a private coach, I see tons of parents who are not stewarding their money well when it comes to private lessons. That being said, I do think private lessons are worth the financial investment if used wisely. I want to share some advice that I share with my clients on a regular basis, even though it may cost me a client or two. Here are five ways to NOT waste your money on private lessons.


1. Make sure your kid is motivated

Here’s the thing, you cannot motivate your kid. Only they can motivate themselves. The best kind of motivation is intrinsic, not extrinsic. Their desire to get better has to come from inside of them, otherwise they’ll never put in the work to make private lessons worth your money and time. Do they genuinely look forward to their training sessions? How’s their morale during training? Do they show an interest in their sport outside of scheduled practice times? If they’re not interested, you’re wasting your money. Put them in a rec league and help them find something they’re genuinely interested in. Help them find what they’re passionate about, even if you don’t share that passion. I’ve found that kids who get pulled from private lessons for lack of motivation will either find something else they really do enjoy or they realize they really enjoy their sport and start working.


2. Make sure your kid trains on their own

If your kid doesn’t train on their own, then it might be a sign that they’re not motivated. There might be other reasons as well. But here’s the bottom line: if the only training your kid gets is during a private session once per week, you’re wasting your money. I recently watched a talk Trevor Bauer, MLB pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, gave on data analytics. He was sharing some of his story and he said his dad would pay for private lessons as long as he worked on his own. If he didn’t work, he didn’t go to private lessons. If he didn’t go to private lessons, he didn’t learn more about the game he loved and didn’t get better. SO what did he do? He worked hard on his own, and it’s paid dividends. As much as I want it to be true, one hour per week is simply not enough to see any meaningful improvements. Some kids that I coach do see some improvements without working at all on their own, and to them I say, “Imagine how good you could be if you actually worked!” In order to really maximize their training (and make their private coach happy), kids need to be working on what their coach instructs them as much as possible.They should be mindful of their private lessons during their team practices AND work more on their own. As a private coach, I tell my kids that they’re wasting their parents money if they are not working on their own, and I have no problem telling a parent that lessons are not a wise investment if their kid(s) don’t practice.


3. Pay attention during the lesson

I love when parents pay attention to my private sessions, ask questions, and even take video of what I’m teaching. If I say something that they don’t understand, some parents will stop me and ask for clarification. I love that! It helps them to adequately reinforce what I teach which always leads to better results. It takes a tribe to raise a warrior--a tribe that is on the same page pushing for the same goals. The more I can teach coaches and parents to reinforce what I’m teaching my players, the better off they are. If your kid is training at home and can’t remember an aspect of their homework from their private lesson, that’s an opportunity to step in and help. The more you can positively reinforce what your private coach is teaching, the better your investment will be.


4. Let the coach coach

Parent involvement is a very good thing. However, too much parent involvement during a private session can be counter-intuitive. Keep from trying to correct every little mistake your kid is making during the lesson. As a coach, I often ignore MANY mistakes during a lesson because my goal isn’t to fix every problem and work on every skill in one day. I take things one skill, one correction, one lesson at a time. I may choose to NOT say something when I see them make a mistake because I want them to figure it out on their own. It’s part of coaching. Good coaches have a reason for what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Trust them to do their job. If you have a coach you can’t trust, then you shouldn’t be going to them anyway. Overbearing parents create insecure athletes. Insecurity is the enemy of confidence, and confidence is necessary for success. Let the coach coach and your kid will have a better chance at success.


5. Help your kid train on his/her own

One thing I really appreciated about my dad is that he was always helping me to train on my own. My dad build a contraption for me to throw a baseball into a bucket to work on accuracy when I was eight years old. He would take me to the front yard and set up cones to work on footwork. He bought me a punching bag so I could work on (football) tackling skills. If I wanted to work on a skill, my dad found a way to help me train. He recognized that for me to have the best chance at success in anything, I needed to work, and he wanted to afford me every opportunity. Following my dad’s example and helping your kid train at home will not only help your kid improve and make the most of their private lessons, it will also deepen your bond with them--something far more important.


James is a contributor, pitching and hitting instructor, and founder of https://www.virtualpitchingacademy.com/


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