In case you missed the first 3 parts of this series (links at the end of this post) and are wondering what's going on here – the purpose of this series is for me, someone who has been taking private lessons for several years (Yikes) to help you get your money's worth out of your own private lessons. I've made every mistake in this regard that can be made – so do as I say, not as I do.
Private lessons from a good tennis coach aren't cheap. Probably. Unless you've somehow found the one great coach who is independently wealthy and believes in teaching lessons for the good of the sport. But I'm guessing that, like me, you haven't found that guy and you spend a good chunk of change on your private lessons. So how do you make sure you're getting the most value possible out of those lessons?
Sounds obvious, right? But how many of us are taking lessons that are really nothing more than paying to mindlessly hit tennis balls with a pro? I've done this plenty of times and I bet you have too.
So put an end to that today! Get your money's worth out of your lessons! Get a goal! Here's how:
Whether you are new to tennis or have been playing for years, you should not be paying for lessons unless you know what it is you hope to achieve in those lessons. This means you have to honestly, perhaps painfully, evaluate your game and decide what you might actually achieve in lessons.
Your goal may be very simple – learn to play tennis! It may be a little more complex – move up from a 3.5 to a 4.5 player. It can be a short-term goal that requires a few lessons – learn to hit a one-handed backhand slice on the run. Or it can be a long-term goal that requires regular lessons for the rest of your life (this seems to be the plan that I am on).
The point is – think about why you're taking lessons and what you want to achieve. Write some notes, review them after a few days and come up with your goal.
If you took the time to create a goal, you're going to tell your coach what it is, aren't you? Well, even I ignore this important step. It's so much easier to just go out there, hit balls and assume that, whatever it is you're doing is going to improve your game. But, to get to your goal, you need to spend some time talking to your coach about what you hope to achieve so that he or she can come up with the appropriate lesson plan that will get you there. (Or perhaps tell you what a laughable goal you've set your heart on – “You? 4.5? That's a good one!”) (No, of course not, I would never take lessons with someone like that.)
Warning – If you are working with a coach who makes you feel uncomfortable about this, someone who thinks he knows what you need to work on and doesn't want to hear much if anything from you, that is a sign that you may not be working with the right coach.
Yes – still with the goal! over time, as you work with a coach, you may forget you had some purpose for your lessons. So, if you're on the short-term goal plan, figure out if you've achieved what you wanted at the end of your termy. If you didn't, decide whether you try again with the same coach (maybe you didn't give yourself enough time), reset your goal (maybe you were trying for too much) or move on (maybe this wasn't the coach for you). If you're on the longer term plan, revisiting your goal periodically is very important. Again, it is easy to fall into the trap of mindlessly hitting balls with your coach just because its fun and easy. Review your goal and your progress towards getting there every 3 to 4 months and decide what needs to change, if anything, to get you achieving that goal.
The point is – don't walk into your lessons and answer the question, “What do you want to work on?” with “I don't know.” Get a goal!
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:
© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved