It’s a very good possibility that parents reading this article most likely did not receive personal, private, or individual instruction as a child. It is also unlikely that you ever took a speed and agility class or spent your school nights throwing weights around and downing supplements to increase your velocity, bat speed, or pop time. In reality, when we look back it seems like we were limited in our opportunities to improve. Hitting lessons used to be a makeshift tee (hazard cone) in the garage hitting into an old blanket. For pitching, maybe a bicycle tire hanging or spray painted target to hit on a wall. Fielding practice back then is now referred to as Wall Ball. Private, individual, and personal instruction back in the day was actually private, personal and individual because you were ALONE! So what happened? Sometime in the last 20 years we have learned to “specialize” everything we do in baseball. We all want to provide our kids with the best opportunity for success and access to the tools we didn’t have available. As a parent it can get overwhelming just figuring out where to start and what path to take. Trying to navigate our kids baseball careers full of private instructors, camps, coaches, tournaments, clinics, select teams, travel teams, and college recruiting (a whole different monster) can be a daunting and expensive task. Lets start with what to look for in an individual instructor. Below is a list of what to look for and what to avoid.
A good Instructor will…
- – speak the kids language
- – understand and describe precise adjustments to make
- – inform parents of what to work on
- – show vulnerability and humility to the player
- – praise and admonish
- – follow a routine for players comfort
- – provide accurate and detailed baseball playing background
- – instruct after something good
- – reinforce their commitment to the players development
- – boost confidence
- – identify and bond with the player
- – develop the player in several aspects of the game not just one.
- – provide drills for the player to work on at home
Red flags for potential instructors
- – promise of short term drastic improvements
- – say they know it all
- – discredits other instructors or coaches
- – comments only after the player does something bad
- – talks down to the player
- – breaks down confidence
- – says the same thing over and over to every player he instructs
- – no consistency or routine to lessons
- – can’t show proof of baseball background
- – never shares their struggles in baseball
There are great instructors and then there are several that think they’re great. After a few sessions you will know which you are dealing with. Once you find a great instructor that your son enjoys being around and is developing under, stick with him! It may seem like you can bounce around from instructor to instructor without harm but a good teacher/student connection is hard to find. Your player will develop confidence when he knows exactly what to expect session after session. It may seem like all instructors are teaching the same thing but it is quite the opposite. The way the lesson is communicated can confuse and hinder the kids development. Its like having two different geometry teachers, both teaching the same subject but the way it’s delivered can affect a students ability to learn. Now that you have an instructor that you and your son like, push the instructor to show you a long term plan. A good instructor will know the timelines and have the kids best interest going forward. One last thing, don’t be that parent and don’t let your son be that kid that undermines what his head coach says all because it sounds different than what your private instructor says. Your instructor should be able to take what may sound like a contradiction and reword it to be consistent with what the player is working on. Don’t forget, its just a game – a very hard game.
My goal as an instructor is to have the player leave each session with a boost of confidence. I ask each player to walk in with no expectations other than a “ready to work” attitude. Kids these days are under so much pressure to perform and want instant fixes to get immediate results. I stress the importance of a game plan and being consistent with it. Always think big picture and long term success with short term goals.
Jimmy Serrano -Baseball Instructor – Dallas/Ft. Worth Area
Leave a comment if you have any questions about baseball instructors or would like more information.