David Haws – Owner Play Deep Academy 2/7/19
Parents frequently ask, “Should we get an individual instructor for our son/daughter?” My answer is, it depends. It depends on what you want to accomplish with your young player. Some parents just want a pre-season tune-up. Maybe they just want their player to do well or to star on their recreation/club team. For some parents, the goal is making a high school or college team. And, to be honest, some have a goal to see their player playing professionally.
Let’s start with the difference between a “team” coach and an “individual” coach.
Team coaches are great. They teach the fundamental “team” component of baseball and fast pitch softball where they take individual players and their skills and integrate them into a cohesive, functioning unit that operates as one. They can and often will work to develop individual skills. However, their over-arching goal is always to develop the “team.” Consequently, as young players progress in their sport, more and more emphasis and focus is placed on building teams rather than individuals. For example, a T-Ball coach spends 95% of their time teaching fundamental skills and 5% on team building. A high school coach may spend 5% of their time developing individual skills and 95% of their time team building. Which is understandable since, to make a high school team, players must demonstrate that they possess the individual skills to merit being on the team.
Parents can’t and should not rely entirely on a “team” coach to develop individual skills in their player. It was once said, “Great players are developed in the backyard.” Meaning a player becomes great because they spend their individual time practicing their sport rather wasting that time in none value activities of watching T.V. or playing video games.
Albert Einstein famously declared, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over, and over, and over and expecting a different result.” Which, incidentally coincides with the quote, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” Essentially, practicing poor or flawed mechanics over and over and over will simply result in the same outcome; poor or flawed performance. I suppose that ANY practice is better than no practice. However, perfect practice done over and over and over translates to improvement and success. This is where individual instruction comes into play.
Individual instruction enables an athlete to improve their performance in a way that would not have been possible if left to figure things out on their own.
The hiring of an individual instructor is extremely effective. Here are a few reasons why:
- Clear and specific goals. An instructor will help you determine what’s really important to you and help you stay focused on that.
- Identify blind spots. Individual instructors help you figure out what you don’t know, and they clue you in to things you may not be able to see. They will be honest with you because they have no competing or ulterior motives beyond improving the player.
- Be accountable. Instructors keep you on track and moving forward toward new levels of achievement. For many of us, having someone we answer to motivates us to act.
- Focus your development efforts. Instructors help you know the difference between weaknesses you need to fix and those that are best left as they are. This can help you invest time and energy only in what is most important.
- Gain a competitive advantage. An instructor can help you get from point “A” to point “B” faster than you could on your own, helping you differentiate yourself from the pack and advance your ability must faster. That’s because every activity during your time with an instructor is analyzed.
- Muscle memory. Instructors “thaw” students by identifying and correcting bad mechanics, fundamentals, and habits and “reform” by teaching the new skill or proper fundamental, and then “freeze” that skill and fundamental as a component of the player’s development and then work to give the player instinctive muscle memory where it becomes part of the player’s repertoire.
- Acquire the ability to auto correct. Individual instructors explain the how and why so that players can make important, solo, on-the spot corrections while competing rather than having to wait and “fix” the problem later when they are with the instructor.
- Personal instructors help identify weakness and turn those weaknesses into strengths.
Simply put, hiring an individual coach is the answer to help your player improve individually. It is the degree of difference that separates the average from the above average player. Individual instruction is where success is earned. Which begs the question I often have for parents; how much is that worth to you?
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