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View Full Version : Private Lessons vs. Clinics


dlk
11-07-2010, 07:07 AM
I've been playing 2 years now & I'm looking to improve my game, ready for some professional assistance. Which would benefit me more for the value? Private lessons at ~$60/hr or like a twenty session clinic at ~$260. If each clinic session is one hour, it would equal like $13/hr, but would have to commit to much more money & longer period of time. I'm curious for those who have experienced both, which did your game benefit more from? I would say I'm bordering 3.0/3.5. Thanks.

Sorry, should have placed in "Tips/Instruction" category, but I do play in leagues.

esgee48
11-07-2010, 07:44 AM
Clinics, but it really depends on ambitious you are. Clinics are slower in terms of advancement, but give you people to meet and hit with. If you are very self-disciplined, then this may work. One-on-One with a private lesson if you get easily distracted. My suggestion? One type of lesson/learning does not preclude the other.

mlktennis
11-07-2010, 08:45 AM
go to craigs list and find a pro and get 2-3 lessons for same amount of money ($60). have them evaluate your strokes and make sure nothing grossly wrong. You are still in the beginner/ developing stage so most pros will be able to help you with basics/ fundamentals.

Often you THINK you are doing something correctly and a pro can point out stuff one on one so it can be changed before it is ingrained---

you will prob have several things to work on then practice, practice, practice--- and clinics if you still have some money left over.

tennis tom
11-07-2010, 09:21 AM
You need both. First of all you need to find a coach who knows the game, how to teach it, and not just takes your money in return for a "good sweat" these are few and far between.

It will take about a dozen private lessons to teach you the fundamentals of proper stroke technique. You should learn the serve first since that's the most important shot, and then FH, BH and volley. After that you have something to work on and you can participate in the pro's clinics perfecting your stroke technique, timing and footwork.

During the clinics the pro should have you playing out points. This most closely simulates competition. The coach shouldn't have the group running around like chickens with their heads cut off, doing drills, feeding balls while mostly standing around in a line discussing the newest restaurant openings. He should also be teaching the rules, etiquette, tactics and strategies of the sport. Give it about 10 years.

OrangePower
11-07-2010, 10:30 AM
If it's an either/or situation, and you have $260 to spend, you will improve more having attended the clinic sessions versus having had 4 hours of private instruction.

coyfish
11-07-2010, 10:48 AM
I think the best way is ball machine with some private lessons. You learn tennis fundamentals by hitting balls. Clinics are for fun and offer limited feedback. Privates tell you what to do but that won't happen until you grind out shot after shot and teach your body.

Nothing but privates is very expensive and isn't the best bang for your buck. Get a private and apply what you learned with the ball machine.

I learned using the ball machine. I hit shot after shot and at first it was frustrating. But then I would start hitting a great shot. I would remember what that felt like and tried to emulate it.

Noltae
11-07-2010, 11:38 AM
Find people to help you that are better than you - you don't always need to pay

rich s
11-07-2010, 11:49 AM
Here's what I do/did.....

Take a few individual lessons to learn the fundamental then use the clinic/drills to polish it.....

often times you do not get enough instruction at the clinic to be of benefit.

my $.02

Wakenslam
11-07-2010, 11:52 AM
Either will work fine as long as you get stroke instruction from a QUALIFIED person. I've seen too many beginners learn the WRONG way to hit by someone who says they are a pro, and therefore never get much better. This leads to frustration and often times the student will just give up. If you can afford it, private lessons are the way to go.

Topaz
11-07-2010, 11:57 AM
Most of my instruction is in clinics, and I take a private lesson when I have something specific to work on. If I had the $$$ (and time) I'd take a weekly private.

escii_35
11-07-2010, 01:53 PM
I find that unless I'm peak shape intense one on one will wear me down too quickly. Duo private are the best with the cost being 40-50% less. Group lesson are boring, non-workout intense and usually filled with people who overestimate their level.

Best compliment I ever received, "People your age usually don't bring that kind of workout ethic or intensity to a lesson. You make me work too hard."

Second best compliment. "You are the most unathletic athlete I have ever seen." :shock:

dlk
11-07-2010, 02:04 PM
Wow, thanks for all the advice.:)

njsigman
11-07-2010, 03:48 PM
I did clinics for about 5 years. I just started playing USTA leagues last year. Between that and private lessons, my game improved dramatically. I think a lot of it has to do with how you think that you learn best. With private lessons, you will get 1 on 1 personalized attention that is matched to your game. Sign up for the USTA and play in their leagues. Once you start playing competitively, your game will get much better for the long run. Just my 2 cents... :)

dlk
11-07-2010, 04:08 PM
I did clinics for about 5 years. I just started playing USTA leagues last year. Between that and private lessons, my game improved dramatically. I think a lot of it has to do with how you think that you learn best. With private lessons, you will get 1 on 1 personalized attention that is matched to your game. Sign up for the USTA and play in their leagues. Once you start playing competitively, your game will get much better for the long run. Just my 2 cents... :)

Been playing in leagues for past year (x2 WTT seasons, USTA Mixed 6.0, Mixed 6.5, Mens 3.5, & Flex 3.0). I've noted marked improvement past 2 months (fastest in my two years, besides maybe first two months). But I realize my technique is unorthodox & as mlktennis mentioned above, I want proper instruction so as not to have habits/techniques that top my growth out.

For instance, my forehand is a flat trajectory skimming top of net & bounces low. But most people I've seen appear to hit nearly underhand causing looping ball that drops & bounces high; I like my shot, but I would like to learn that shot too.

Another example, about 6 months ago, I realized I could hit a lot faster serve with less effort if I turned my grip a quarter turn; then just a few months ago, I turned it another quarter making the shot just as hard but more consistent (causes my wrist to bend & can't tolerate serving 2 sets like that). It would have been so much easier/faster with a pro versus trial & error.

slice bh compliment
11-07-2010, 04:33 PM
go to craigs list and find a pro and get 2-3 lessons for same amount of money ($60)......

That's hilarious. There are really pros who advertise cut-rate lessons on CL?

Cindysphinx
11-07-2010, 06:37 PM
All I can tell you is what I experienced.

I started off doing clinics. I have to say, clinics helped me very little. The problem in many clinics is that you do not get enough reps to groove anything. You get the occasional tip ("Take your racket back sooner!"), but that's it.

In the clinic I attended, it was 2 hours, one pro, 4 players per court. We might start off with the pro feeding three FHs to each player, then go to the back of the line. After 20 minutes of that, we'd get fed an approach shot, volley then overhead, then back to the end of the line. After another 20 minutes, we'd work on our slice lob.

The result is that I could hit all of these shots *very* badly and with no consistency.

I saw more improvement when I started doing private lessons. There were a ton of bad habits to break, and that took a lot of time and effort.

If you can possibly afford it, go with private lessons. Every other week *with diligent practice in between lessons* will help you improve. If you cannot afford it, second best is to find three friends and start your own clinic with a pro. Then you know the level will be right and there won't be a lot of backtracking when new people turn up.

As for the cut-rate lesson . . . if you can find someone who knows what they are doing for cheap, great. In general, I think you get what you pay for. I've seen some seriously miserable instruction out there . . . .

mlktennis
11-07-2010, 07:54 PM
That's hilarious. There are really pros who advertise cut-rate lessons on CL?

the pro's off craig's list can be pretty random- I've seen really good and some average. I have asked for their qualifications if it isn't listed on the ad.

I've even had one guy decline to teach me b/c he said that he thinks he won't offer too much to my game since he is more geared toward beginners.

Since they are teaching at public courts, they don't have to give a tennis club their cut and so many have told me they make the same or more teaching outside -though the acutual rate is lower.

I figure i can find a gem or a dud at the club or online. Actually many on craig's list also teach/ taught at clubs---just trying to get a little extra $$ on the side...which I say more power to them!

tennista22
11-07-2010, 11:23 PM
I've found both the invunerable sources of help but going to a clinic with a good coach that keeps an eagle eye out and the amount of extra balls you get to hit makes me think clinics are slightly superior. At my particular clinic nutrition and exercise are also covered so it makes for a good bonus :)

Maui19
11-08-2010, 04:22 AM
I do both clinics and private lessons. My experience has been that clinics are great for learning playing strategies and private lessons are better for learning stroke mechanics.

Cindysphinx
11-08-2010, 05:26 AM
I do both clinics and private lessons. My experience has been that clinics are great for learning playing strategies and private lessons are better for learning stroke mechanics.

Yes, agreed. An additional benefit to private clinics is it can be a good way to get doubles partners on the same page.

NBM
11-08-2010, 09:27 AM
I've been playing 2 years now & I'm looking to improve my game, ready for some professional assistance. Which would benefit me more for the value? Private lessons at ~$60/hr or like a twenty session clinic at ~$260. If each clinic session is one hour, it would equal like $13/hr, but would have to commit to much more money & longer period of time. I'm curious for those who have experienced both, which did your game benefit more from? I would say I'm bordering 3.0/3.5. Thanks.

Sorry, should have placed in "Tips/Instruction" category, but I do play in leagues.


People seem to often overlook semi-private lessons. I;ve taught tennis in all the permutations, and can easily say that semi-privates is the best value provided you are hooked up w. someone who plays at about your skillset.

If you are paying 60 an hour for a private in your area, you would likely pay around 35 for a semi-private. I recommend a package of 6 lessons <at least>, one weekly, and you can likely get an even better deal <maybe the 6th lesson free or something like that>. i would give the 6 lesson package and encourage the lesson to linger right after the lesson and ingrain what the lesson was about w. your partner for an additional 30 minutes. lots of people seem to take a lesson and then try and ingrain what was taught by playing a match and that isnt the best way to learn...either that, or they wouldnt play at all between lessons which is the worst.

If you have a quality teaching pro and practice between lessons, you can really get a lot of bang for your buck out of semi-privates.

burosky
11-08-2010, 01:49 PM
Ditto, NBM. Sharing a lesson (semi-private) with someone you know who is at the same level would be best. You get to split the cost but still get the one-on-one attention.

To get the most out of your session, be very precise about what you want to learn. Since you are sharing the lesson, try to decide on a couple of specific things to work on. It's like getting 2 for the price of one. For example, telling your pro you want to work on your forehand is not specific enough. It would be alright if you say something like I want to learn how to hit a high forehand. Better yet, you can have a more focused session if you say I want to learn how to hit a high forehand that land short for a put away. Then maybe the other person can say the same thing but with the backhand instead.

Cruzer
11-08-2010, 05:14 PM
Basically it is like this.

In a private lesson you get to work on what your want to work for as long as you want to since you are sole payer. If you want to spend the entire lesson working on your serve it is your choice since it is your dime.

The quality of clinics can vary all over the map. I have been in a lot of clinics with class sizes ranging from 3 to 15 with one instructor. Some clinics have had two instructors and maybe a high school student to feed balls to part of the group while the other part is getting instruction. I have found that a clinic is as good as the weakest player participating in the clinic.

Semi-private lessons do reduce the cost of private lesson and you likely get to take the lesson with someone you know however you do lose some control over what is done in the lesson since their are two of you. The most useful semi-private lessons I have had are with a doubles partner to learn and practice doubles strategy.

Since no two tennis instructors are the same the choice between private lessons vs. clinics vs. semi-private lessons will mostly depend on what you want to get better at and what tennis instructors that you have access to can help you get there. For me there is the intangible factor of how well the instructor relates to me and how I get what he trying to get me to do. You probably need to try out some of each find out what you feel yo get the most from.

beernutz
11-08-2010, 07:25 PM
People seem to often overlook semi-private lessons. I;ve taught tennis in all the permutations, and can easily say that semi-privates is the best value provided you are hooked up w. someone who plays at about your skillset.

If you are paying 60 an hour for a private in your area, you would likely pay around 35 for a semi-private. I recommend a package of 6 lessons <at least>, one weekly, and you can likely get an even better deal <maybe the 6th lesson free or something like that>. i would give the 6 lesson package and encourage the lesson to linger right after the lesson and ingrain what the lesson was about w. your partner for an additional 30 minutes. lots of people seem to take a lesson and then try and ingrain what was taught by playing a match and that isnt the best way to learn...either that, or they wouldnt play at all between lessons which is the worst.

If you have a quality teaching pro and practice between lessons, you can really get a lot of bang for your buck out of semi-privates.

My wife does semi-privates with 3 of her friends. The advantages include the lower cost than privates, in her case the pro only adds a slight premium over his hourly rate to teach multiple students, and that she gets to choose who she has lessons with. They can also focus on doubles strategy with two pairs as this is primarily what they play in league. Like Cruzer points out above, YMMV.

dizzlmcwizzl
11-08-2010, 07:46 PM
I tried several clinics and the pro was either not very good or the skillset of the other players was very weak. I imagine this could been good in the right circumstances, but for me it was not.

I tried 3 different pro's for individual lesson before finding a guy I liked that would also would make time for me on an as needed basis.

Bottom line is that I now have a guy I trust that knows my game and makes me better. I started out wanting a few low stress clinics and before you know it I found myself in 8-10 lessons per summer over the last 4 years.

Bottom line is I would due your research, experiment and figure out what will work best for you in your price range. Committing to 10 clinics with limited ball hitting opportunities and players not at your level might be huge waste of money. However, in the right group with players slightly better than you it could be the best value going.

heninfan99
11-29-2010, 05:43 AM
Clinics seem useless but they are fun.

TennisDawg
11-29-2010, 10:36 PM
Clinics are not useless, unless you call playing tennis useless. If you want to improve a stroke, learn a new stroke or correct a bad habit then private lessons, for sure. Clinics are mostly for playing tennis which is why we like tennis. Use the clinics to groove that stroke. Take a couple of lessons and then go on court and practice the shot, take notes after your private lesson go out as soon as you can and try to implement what you've learned. Often, in clinics you get paired up with playing of unequal ability and that makes it frustrating. Very few 4.5 and above players do clinics, most are 3.0 to 4.0 so you can sometimes have a 3.0 playing a 4.0. I know the clinics are advertised as 4.0 level, but when the pro needs to fill the class they take 3.5 and even 3.0.

aniretake
12-02-2010, 11:21 AM
Here's what I do/did.....
Take a few individual lessons to learn the fundamental then use the clinic/drills to polish it.....
often times you do not get enough instruction at the clinic to be of benefit.

my $.02

I agree. Too many people there, and you end up not getting enough attention.

dlk
12-06-2010, 06:07 AM
Thanks everyone, I'm gonna start with private lessons in JAN.

Beagle97
12-08-2010, 01:41 PM
Seems like a good choice. Private lessons should help you to get good fundamentals.

You might in addition try to find a pro that does a regular drill session. In this way, you don't need to commit to a large number of sessions in advance. A good pro will limit the size of the session and recruit players of similar ability. It is not for instruction but for practice.

I do drills tue nights that are excellent for my game. Even after 2 or 3 times I noticed a difference. The pro gears them for doubles particularly. We practice real situations. Typically there are 6 or 8 of us, 4.0's and 4.5's. By the end of the session we have worked out harder than if we had been playing a tough singles match. I have a friend that does similar drills at a different club--where the pro limits it to 4 people.

Just a thought.

Nellie
12-08-2010, 02:53 PM
Keep in mind that most instructors (at least the ones I know) will not teach you technique during clinics, and instead, spend the time feeding balls to give you as much practice a possible. Coaching is limited to discussing strategy.

Cindysphinx
12-08-2010, 04:48 PM
Keep in mind that most instructors (at least the ones I know) will not teach you technique during clinics, and instead, spend the time feeding balls to give you as much practice a possible. Coaching is limited to discussing strategy.

Yes, and it is a very bad idea to try to teach technique in a clinic setting.

Some of my teammates have been doing a doubles clinic. One player decided she wanted to change her FH grip. When the clinic ended, she could not get the ball over the net, so the poaching drill could not work and the player's confidence in her FH was in tatters.

You Can't Be Serious
12-08-2010, 05:41 PM
Yes, and it is a very bad idea to try to teach technique in a clinic setting.

Some of my teammates have been doing a doubles clinic. One player decided she wanted to change her FH grip. When the clinic ended, she could not get the ball over the net, so the poaching drill could not work and the player's confidence in her FH was in tatters.

Most doubles clinics will without question stay away from technique. The problem, however, is that many women can't free up that much time for private lessons nor are they willing or have the extra money for private lessons.

I tell you what we do to get some feedback. If the ladies are in agreement as to what they want from the clinic, we will work technique. This is something accomplished during the off season when there is no other competition going on.

We try to provide opportunities for lots of repetition during this part and I'll use a student assistant to assistant during the class. As we move toward the spring, we do more strategy and doubles work only reviewing what was learned during the fall or off season.

I've found this to become quite popular as many ladies complain that they recieve little feedback elsewhere. However, this is only done when all four ladies agree to this format. Other groups will spend most of the time on strategy.

Our teams also continue to exceed in various levels of competition and leagues.

I also allow the groups to dictate what they want from each class since they are paying for the clinic. Some groups just want to have fun.

We've had a good success rate as I see many of the ladies (all of whom want to move up to higher competition) using a nice loop on either their forehand and backhand and establishing a nice smooth rythym on their strokes.

crystal_clear
12-10-2010, 07:33 AM
Thanks everyone, I'm gonna start with private lessons in JAN.

I think it is a good choice.

I have tried all group clinic, semi-private and private lessons. Private lessons are the most cost-effective in my opinion.

In a clinic, we spend a lot of time waiting for our turn to hit balls. When finally it is my turn, I can't fix my problem by just hitting a few balls. Clinic is good for social and maybe doubles strategy. To practice doubles strategy in a clinic, everyone has to be at the same level. The clinic is cheap but not effective.

I had a couple of semi-private lessons with a friend. Although we both learned FH, we had different problems and I learned a little bit faster. The pro. spent more time to help my friend up to the speed. I got half-hour attention in the class and paid more than half-hour coach fee.

I really got improved after taking private lessons. It is the shortcut to improve your game and it is the most cost-effective way to learn tennis and prevent injury.

Finding a good coach is important.

struggle
12-10-2010, 09:41 AM
if you are 3.0/3.5......you need to work on your serve and your backhand, most likely.

when out on a hit, step to your forehand side so you forced to hit more bh.
as long as you aren't "frying pan" on the serve you are likely headed in the right direction.

have fun!!

dlk
12-10-2010, 09:49 AM
if you are 3.0/3.5......you need to work on your serve and your backhand, most likely.

when out on a hit, step to your forehand side so you forced to hit more bh.
as long as you aren't "frying pan" on the serve you are likely headed in the right direction.

have fun!!

Believe it or not, my backhand is not bad, both one & two-handed. I do plan to work on my serve consistency, LOL no frying pan, but did when first started playing. And my main focus is my FH, as is flat shot that is only good if can set-up & hit at waist high. I find I'm guiding over any low shots & soft non-spin moonballs if hit high. Both, I almost always lose points on.

struggle
12-10-2010, 11:45 AM
Believe it or not, my backhand is not bad, both one & two-handed. I do plan to work on my serve consistency, LOL no frying pan, but did when first started playing. And my main focus is my FH, as is flat shot that is only good if can set-up & hit at waist high. I find I'm guiding over any low shots & soft non-spin moonballs if hit high. Both, I almost always lose points on.

low ball, bend the knees. high ball, maybe try to take it on the rise, right when it's in your wheel house. otherwise let it drop if you must.