Growing up, my parents didn’t know much about lacrosse. They didn’t play lacrosse. I didn’t have an older brother. Despite my cousin Gavin and I playing at an early age, my first club experience began in eighth grade.
I attended lacrosse camps, but private and small group training were unknown concepts to my family.
Still, I convinced my parents to try private lessons, the first of which came following an MIAA Championship loss. It was a tough pill to swallow, but my sights shifted to Duke and I wanted to get better.
Parents are often faced with tough decisions when it comes to sport-specific training their son or daughter. How many private lessons make a difference? Do 2-4 kids make for a better experience in a group, or is a 1 on 1 lesson the best choice? What about 8-10? What about an 80-100 player camp?
The reality? It is very difficult to say how much is the“right” amount. Every player is different. Different athletes have varying backgrounds. Some players grow earlier and/or hit puberty later. Others get exposed to great coaching from their parents at a young age.
Here are some things I think are helpful to consider when evaluating private lessons & group training.
- Where is your child in their stage of development?
- Do they need to learn to compete?
- Do they need to re-establish their foundation?
- Are they making elite tweaks to their game?
- Do they need a role model?
- Do they train as hard as they can alone, or do they need to be pushed by other players?
- Can they learn from watching others in the group, as well as a coach?
Benefits of Private Lessons:
- Increased 1v1 Feedback
- Ability to curate to player’s speed & needs
- More intimate interaction
- Individual skill-based curriculum
Benefits of Small Group Training:
- Natural Competition
- Learning from others
- More intense game-situation environments
- Increased teamwork and leadership opportunities
I believe that both private lessons and small group training are important to a player’s development. However, each player might benefit from a different mix of each. It is imperative that players spend time on their game beyond instructed training. Private lessons and small groups are not a substitute for quality time spent on one’s own perfecting their craft. That commitment is what makes the difference at the next level.