With youth sports being the key ticket to athletic stardom and riches, early specialization is one of the hottest topics of discussion these days. You’ve seen plenty of articles about the negatives of specialization at young ages. If you haven’t send me an email and I’ll provide you with some links. However, as long as the carrot is still hanging on the end of the stick, there will be plenty of young players trying to reach that carrot, with or without specialization.
So in an attempt to be the best player you can be, you are bound to take your son or daughter to a private skills coach to improve their skills to the max so they can make their high school or travel ball teams, or reach that goal of an athletic scholarship. Sometimes these lessons are a part of a travel or club organization. Sometimes you will have a high school coach let you know that if you aren’t taking lessons you won’t make the team. The variables to this equation are many. So how often should you have these lessons?
In the softball world, there are lessons for hitting, fielding, and pitching. You can also get lessons for catching… not just catching the ball but being a catcher. Many players go to lessons each week. Many go to multiple lessons, such as pitching and hitting. Obviously the skills coach wants to see you each week as that means more money for them. Please understand – I have no problem with coaches making money for private instruction. A coach is spending his or her time with your son or daughter to help them improve their skills. They deserve to be paid. I give lessons myself.
So is it absolutely necessary to go to lessons each week? That depends upon a few things. 1. What are your child’s goals? 2. How quickly do you want to reach those goals? 3. What skill are you getting lessons for?
Some coaches will tell you that you need lessons each week so that bad habits won’t set in. I would say that this is more true when a player is starting out but not necessarily when they are “first” starting. In other words, give your child a chance to enjoy the sport before hauling you 8-year-old off to weekly lessons.
I tell the parents of the players I coach that if they really want to see me every week, I’m glad to help them. However, I try to teach the player not just how to perform a given skill but how to be their own coach as well. I teach them not just how to correct certain details but how to recognize what needs correcting. I tell them that the more they can become their own coach, the less they’ll need me, and the better player they can become. One of the key issues I see with a lot of player today is that they do not think, they do not learn the whole game. They can replicate the skills the coaches have given them but they don’t always know why or when. I don’t want robots. I want players.
Parents will like it too if they don’t have to mortgage the farm to pay me. There are plenty of players out there to fill up a schedule. I try to always put the player first, not my need for the all elusive dollar.
Next post I will talk about how to pick your skills coaches.