I hope the title of this post doesn’t offend you as much as the featured pic on this post. (In case you can’t see the entire pic: This “private baseball instructor,” is eating a sandwich as he pulls baseballs from a bucket – that he’s sitting on – while one shoe hangs halfway off his foot.
As ridiculous as this image is, for me it doesn’t compare to the near-complete lack of value the typical private lessons brings to the table.
Yes. I know. Where do I come off making that statement, seeing that for nearly 20 years, I gave tons of private lessons? I mean, it’s what I did. I’m sure many people reading this know me through our private lesson history.
What you might not know: I have moved away from private lessons in the past few years. Yes, I still do a few here and there for players not quite ready for the way I train ball players now. But the simple fact that at the end of the day, private lessons don’t do anything close to what you’ve been led to believe they do.
Don’t believe me? Well then. Let’s take look at your typical hitting and pitching lesson.
The Typical Hitting Lessons
Warm Up – A few trunk twists followed by pulling your arm across your chest a few times and you’re ready to go!
Tee Work – You’ll probably spend a lot of time here, swinging, talking, and doing a bunch of drills that never translate to your actual swing. If not, don’t worry. Your lesson will be filled with pointless drills at some point.
Flips – Because baseball pitchers throw underhand, right?
Short BP – If you’re lucky. That’ll depend on the instructor’s pitch count for the day, leading up to your lesson with him.
Constructive Criticism – Every bad ball you hit will be followed with a standard correction cue that may or may not apply. Each good ball struck will confirm exactly what that coach told you to do, which may or not be true at all.
Video – If you’re really lucky, your instructor will use his phone for video and not texting while you pick up the balls.
Final Swings – will be almost guaranteed to be great, because the instructor will do all he can to put the ball in your wheelhouse, in the hopes that you’ll feel good about yourself and assume the swing means you’re making progress, and will hopefully lead to you taking more lessons with him.
The Typical Pitching Lessons
Warm Up – Unsupervised stretching…tubing possibly. (I’ve seen very popular instructors tell their pitchers to “do what you gotta do to get loose,” or just have them start playing catch right away.)
Drills, drills, drills – What’s a pitching lesson without ridiculous drills that have nothing to do with how the body actually works? (Even regular speed video proves this!)
Bullpen Time! – How else will you learn how to pitch (in December)? You’ll finish with a strike. The instructor will make sure of it.
Video – I’ve heard one too many pitching instructors claim they can see all they need to by what the ball does.
Constructive Criticism – Just like a hitting lesson, if you miss your location you be corrected with some accepted gibberish. Hit your spot, well then, your “mechanics” were perfect, right?
Oh It's Not All Bad...
I will say, if that coach is master of positive vibes and confidence-building praise, that can go a long way. There’s no denying that. But once that fades (and it will once you have your first sub-par game post lesson) what are you left with? You haven’t really developed any particular skill. You’ve basically paid someone to throw you BP, or watch you throw a ‘pen, and compare it to your last lesson with them. That’s it. And what’s the typical private lesson run these days? I’ve seen them range from $45 – $60…for 30 minutes. What if you could train, actually train to develop your skills as a baseball player?
What if you were handed a structured program tailored to meet YOUR needs, and not just some cookie-cutter, drill-filled tear-it-out-of-a-magazine program?
What if you committed to that type of a program, and by the end of the training become your own coach, and be able to make your own corrections on the fly?
What if you could train 90 minutes a day, 3 to 7 days per week for two or three months, see concrete results backed by video and baseball specific metrics, and pay significantly less per session than the cheapest private lesson?
I know of a place that does just that…