So, you've decided to spend the time and money on private lessons. You're looking for a great tennis coach. You've even come up with a list of potential coaches. But how do you find the one that's right for you?
1. Give all of your potential coaches a call. While this seems obvious, I know plenty of people taking lessons from coaches they never spoke to prior to their first paid-for lesson. People like, ummm . . . me! But you can learn quite a bit by just making this phone call and you most likely will weed out one or two potential candidates just based on your phone conversation.
2. Ask for AND talk to references. Before you commit to a coach, ask him to give you some references who you can call. Don't be embarrassed about this. A good coach should have several names to give you, people he teaches who won't mind spending some time talking to you. If your potential coach avoids giving you references, avoid that coach.
3. Talk to other students. So you get some references. Give them a call! Don't avoid the hassle. You're potentially entering into a long term relationship with this coach. Do your homework and make the calls asking – How long has the student taken with this coach? What are her work habits like? Is she always on time? Does she cancel at the last minute? What are her strengths? Weaknesses? What to they really like about her? What do they hate?
4. Watch some lessons. This is such an easy and cheap way to find out what a coach is like. You may feel weird about it, you might think you're disrupting the lesson, but most people won't have any problem with this. And I'm not talking about sitting there staring at a one hour lesson. Just drop by for 15 to 20 minutes in the middle of a lesson to see what's happening and see if this lesson represents the kind of lesson you want to take.
5. Take a lesson. After doing all (or even some) of the above, just go ahead and take a lesson. And pay for it. No coach is obligated to give you some kind of free try-it-out lesson and you shouldn't expect that. It's their business after all!. But you also don't have to get into a long-term relationship right off the bat. So take the test drive, see if you click with the coach you've honed in on. Do you understand what's happening during the lesson? Do the instructions make sense? Are you getting too much talking and not enough hitting? Are your questions being answered? The actual lesson experience should tell you whether this is the coach for you.
Want to read other posts in this series? Just click on these titles and find out how to get the most from your tennis lessons: