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Hardscrabble Scramble
April 1998 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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Private or Groups?

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Mike Whittington

The decision to take private tennis lessons or join group lessons is a subject that comes up all the time with my players. Each type of tennis lesson has its benefits and your tennis professional can discuss which would be the most beneficial to your game. This month I thought I would discuss some of the things that I feel are the main points of each to help you make a decision on what route to take to best improve your game.

I feel that private lessons are best suited for players needing help with a specific shot or strategy, singles players, and sometimes beginning players. Let's say you need help with a new one handed backhand. A private lesson would give you the opportunity to hit the shot hundreds of times under the watchful eye of your teaching professional. In a group lesson, the focus might be backhands but not specifically the one hander you are trying to improve. Are you a singles player? A private lesson is a chance to go one on one with your pro and let him/her see your strengths and weaknesses in actual point situations. This can also be done in a group lesson if the group is made up of all singles players. Some beginning players feel comfortable in private lessons and would like a few one on one hours to grasp the basics before jumping into a group or hitting session.

Group lessons are great for doubles players, players wanting more hitting partners in a lesson, and some beginners feel safety in numbers. A big percentage of my players are doubles team tennis players. In private lessons it can be difficult for that player to visualize where his/her opponents and partner would be. In a group setting a player gets instant feedback on what his/her shot or strategy would do in actual match play - there is no "pretend your opponent is here" thinking. Group lessons can also give you the opportunity to hit against different style players at the same time, which better simulates a match. For example, you might be placed in a point situation in a group lesson against a lobber with a dinker partner - this may not always be the most fun situation but it is more realistic. Beginning players sometimes enjoy starting in group lessons with their friends. Group lessons also are usually less expensive per person than private lessons.

I realize not all players and teaching professionals will agree with my assessment of tennis lessons. At my club, group lessons are the most popular partly due to USTA team tennis.

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This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


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