Choosing A Private Instructor: Do your homework

The magic of the Internet has made it possible to do gobs of research before making a purchase. Many of us use this tool before buying anything that’s expensive. We read reviews, we get multiple quotes, and we ask questions before purchasing. In short, we educate ourselves before investing our hard earned money into something. Especially if we’re making a $20,000 investment which is about the cost of private lessons over a 5 year span.

When it comes to individual lessons, unfortunately many parents don’t use these same practices before investing in someone to teach their child how to hit, pitch, catch, etc. Let’s put it into perspective. When purchasing a refrigerator, consumers spend an average of 3 hours researching before even considering a purchase. When hiring a hitting coach, parents ask another parent what they think and often base their decision solely off this review. So the parent who decided to hire a pitching coach because they know nothing about teaching their child how to pitch is now an expert about the instructors who claim to be experts. The reality is there are many private instructors out there claiming to be experts and making a lot of money off of uninformed families.

Public school teachers make an average of $16 dollars an hour (excluding outside of the classroom hours). They are required to complete a college degree, go through supervised training, and are required to engage in continued development throughout their career. Baseball/Softball instructors make anywhere from $50-$100 an hour. If your son or daughter goes to an instructor for 5 years, once a week at a rate of $75 a pop, that’s $19,500 you’ve invested in their development! When you consider almost a $20,000 investment, it would seem reasonable to expect a high level of expertise. Unfortunately many instructors out there did not go through any formal training or even play at the collegiate level. They MAYBE played high school ball and/or watched some videos and now claim to be experts in teaching and developing young athletes at a premium price tag. They’re great salesmen with an underdeveloped product and the target market is uninformed about the product itself. This is a bad combination for parents who just want to give their child the best opportunity possible.

So WHO actually qualifies as a professional instructor?

The easiest qualifying baseline for an instructor is simple. They competed at the college level. The amount of game and training education an athlete receives at the college level is ten-fold of what they knew before arriving on campus. They have a deep understanding of how to train, how to communicate, and the mental aspects of the game they developed by competing at a high level. After all, only 6% of high school athletes go on to compete in collegiate sports! That means by choosing an instructor that has this experience you know they have an advanced knowledge base. The second stipulation would be they’ve played 5+ years of adult Fastpitch at a high level. I’ve come across some fantastic male pitching coaches who obviously didn’t play the game in college but have since competed in men’s fastpitch and worked hard to educate themselves. Many of them played baseball in college, which checks off box one. Much of softball and baseball overlaps so a great baseball teacher can teach a softball player how to play the game.

What can you do to ensure you’re investing your money in an actual professional instructor? It’s simple, ask questions and do your research before you invest. Below is a checklist of questions to ask, and red flags to look out for when searching for the right instructor who is an actual expert in the field.

  • Did you play at the collegiate level? If so where, and who were your coaches?

  • What do you do for continued education in your field of expertise?

  • What’s your basic philosophy when it comes to hitting, fielding, pitching, etc.?

  • Do you address the mental aspect of the game and if so, how?

  • Ask other experts in the field about potential instructors (college coaches in the area, highly respected instructors)

  • Google them! If what they’re saying is true in regards to their experience you should be able to find information about their playing and coaching career online.

  • Ask for a list of references composed of other professionals in the field (not past students)


No experience at any level past high school

Is unclear or “wishy-washy” when asked about past experience

Has a “MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY” their approach

Is not engaged during a lesson

Rarely asks the athlete questions, just gives constant feedback

Changes philosophies often

False claims about accomplishments

Cannot explain the "WHY" behind their approach

Inconsistent with attitude/approach in lessons

Stakes claim over athlete successes

(You don’t hear great coaches in an interview, saying they taught their athletes everything they know. You hear great coaches giving athletes the credit).

This leads to a disclaimer and conclusion. There is one person who truly makes the biggest impact on an athletes’ career and that is the athlete. Great instructors and coaches provide the tools that guide young athletes both physically and mentally. It’s not about what happens in that hour lesson; it’s what happens outside of it. When athletes take ownership and responsibility for their development, real growth happens.

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