Your kid just asked you to start playing tennis, and you call the local club asking about what they offer. The receptionist says they offer group tennis lessons (also referred to as clinics) and private tennis lessons, but which one is better? And what will most benefit your child?
It’s not that one type of lesson is better than the other; it’s which one works better with your schedule, budget, and–most importantly–your child.
Group Tennis Lessons or Private Tennis Lessons: What’s Best for my Child?
We will dissect the pros and cons of both group lessons and private lessons, but first, let’s take a look at how your child’s age, personality type, and learning style should affect your tennis lesson enrollment decision.
How Age Affects the Group vs. Private Lesson Decision
The younger your child is, specifically the four to eight age range, the better group lessons can be for them. The clinics geared towards younger kids are focused less on the technicality of the strokes and match play. They are more focused on exercises and footwork drills that improve their hand-eye coordination, balance, and other general motor skills.
As your child gets older, anywhere between the ages of eight through sixteen, group lessons are usually tailored to the intermediate or high-performance junior player. Most teaching professionals believe that a few private lessons will go a long way before an older child jumps into a clinic. This pathway will help them get that one-on-one attention they need to have success in a group lesson.
Related: When to Use Foam Tennis Balls for Kids
Your Child’s Personality & Learning Style Should Affect Which Tennis Lesson Format You Choose
It’s difficult to say what personality type best matches up with each type of lesson. As a general rule, extroverted children who love social interaction and learn best when involved in groups might do very well in a group setting. More introverted children tend to gravitate towards a one-on-one setting like in a private lesson. And that’s not to say that the reverse isn’t true.
Learning tennis, whether in a clinic or a private lesson, is a visual, hands-on process. So if a child learns that way, either a group lesson or private will suit them. If a child is more cerebral and enjoys processing information, they’d do well in a private lesson.
Pros of Group Kids Tennis Lessons:
● Provides a group-learning environment
● Lots of games that simulate the game of tennis
● Kids can make new friends
● If they take private lessons, then group lessons are a great place to build upon what they are taught during the private lessons.
● Great for a tight budget
Cons of Group Junior Tennis Lessons:
● A child will not receive much 1-on-1 attention
● Class pace can be slow
● Predetermined time and day
Should My Kid do Group Tennis Lessons?
The pros do outweigh the cons when it comes to group tennis lessons. It’s a great social environment for children. They can make friends within the tennis community, which becomes a huge part of tennis success later in their tennis development. Depending on the size of the group, sometimes two or more teaching professionals are placed on the courts, leading to more balls hit. Repetition is the most essential part of developing tennis strokes.
The kids tennis drills and games often used during group lessons are built to have children play against one another, which helps develop their rallying and match play skills. Playing against different player styles, personalities, and levels further advances a child’s ability to rally and problem-solve.
If your child is already taking private lessons or decides to do both, they will be able to take what they learn in their private lessons and apply it to their group lessons. Group tennis lessons are typically more cost-effective than private lessons because they are offered in sessions; the length of each session will vary by tennis facility.
Group lessons come with three cons. Your child will not receive lots of one-on-one attention. Of course, coaches do their best to help each child; it’s just impossible to do if the group is large. Finally, the pace of the group lesson depends on the ability of each child. If the children are all around the same level, then the pace will be quicker; if there is a disparity between ability levels, the pace will be slower. The last drawback of group lessons affects those with packed schedules: group lessons adhere to a set time and day and depending on the club.
Pros of Private Kids Tennis Lessons:
● Lots of one-on-one attention
● The learning curve is quicker
● Greater schedule flexibility
Cons of Private Junior Tennis Lessons:
● Expensive depending on location
Should My Kid Have Private Tennis Lessons?
Private lessons are perfect if your child needs one-on-one attention. It’s important to have a coach give undivided attention to your child when beginning such a technical sport. They can reinforce the proper swing path of each stroke, work on footwork, help with learning mental toughness skills, and much more. Because of the amount of attention given to your children in their private lessons, their skills will increase much faster. Of course, they have to apply themselves, but all the same, the learning curve is much greater than in group lessons.
Sometimes, the deciding factor for families choosing between group lessons and private lessons is schedule flexibility. Private lessons provide more flexibility (e.g., mornings, nights, weekends, etc.) for a busy schedule, while group lessons stick to a rigid weekly time.
The only con of private lessons is that they can be expensive. Depending on your location, they can range anywhere between $60 to $150. But, if your child is a beginner at tennis or wants to take tennis seriously and eventually enter tournaments or play for their high school team, then private lessons are an excellent investment.
The Verdict – Junior Group Tennis Lessons vs. Junior Private Tennis Lessons
The easy answer is “it depends!” In the end, choosing between group lessons and private lessons comes down to many factors. Many teaching professionals would say that if your child can swing it, enroll them into both. They’ll get personal attention from private lessons and apply what they have learned to their group lesson.
As a basic rule of thumb, if your child is very young, a fun-oriented group lesson will be a good investment. Group lessons are better for keeping young kids interested in tennis. If your child is older, private lessons will help them develop faster at first. After getting professional instruction on what to work on technique wise, the next step would be to branch out into group tennis clinics.