Getting the Most Out of a Private Lesson

Getting the Most out of a Private Lesson

by Dawnn Rentrop

from Cheer! the Holiday Issue 2015


Private lessons can be so beneficial for an athlete.  It allows them time to work specifically on the skill or skill they need to perfect.  Often times, private lessons are expensive and might not be scheduled at the most ideal times.  If an athlete can be prepared, they should find private lessons to be more successful.

Do Your Homework

Homework sounds so daunting, but it’s cheer homework!  work with your coach to create an at home or off-day conditioning plan that allows you to work on strengthening the muscles needed to help you progress quicker.

Arrive Early

As long as your gym/coach will allow you, show up 15 minutes early, find a corner in the gym and being your workout.  Ask the coach for some advice on what to do, but a good rule of thumb is start with some cardio to get your body warmed up.  Follow that up with static stretching and basic tumbling skills.  Back bends, bridges, handstands, cartwheels, and round-offs are a great starting point.  Don’t attempt any skills that are beyond your basic warm up level.  The goal of this suggestion is when your private lesson begins and the coach is ready, you have the full amount of time to work on your skill and progressions.

Don’t Plan to be Spotted the Entire Time

Athlete and parents often feel like they are getting the most out of a private lesson if the coach is spotting them the entire lesson.  This is not always the case.  Doing drills is vital to an athlete’s success at a new skill.  Allowing their mind and body to understand what muscles need to be engaged to perform the skill is essential to the successful completion of the skill.  While being spotted can be a benefit, ONLY being spotted doesn’t allow the athlete the ability to gain the strength and muscle memory needed to perform the skill alone.

Consistency will Breed Success

Sometimes private lessons are needed to put the finishing touches on a skill.  However, if the goal is a new skill, a long term plan usually is best suited.  An ideal situation is when an athlete and a coach can coordinate a time that works in both of their schedules and compliments the practice schedule.

Progressions are Essential

Sometimes the coach might find it necessary to have the athlete spend some of the private lesson working on a more basic skill.  for example, if an athlete is working on a back handspring, the coach might spend some time working on the skill before: the back walkover.  The athlete might need to perfect a skill from the back walkover that is used in the back handspring, such as shoulder flexibility, head placement, or straight arms that are pushing the body weight away from the ground.  Fixing the little things in the previous skill will only strengthen the new skill.

Set Goals

It is important to know what you are working on and what you want to accomplish from the private lessons.  A level one athlete might have 10 skills they need to work on for their routine; discussing with your coach is the best option to determine what skills to work on.  If you have a long standing private lesson, having goals is even more important.  You want to use this time and money as wisely as possible.  Having goals, with dates and rewards or consequences keeps both the coach and the athlete focused, driven, and ready to make great strides.

Don’t Expect a Miracle

Often times, athletes use private lessons as the miracle worker.  If an athlete is barely throwing a back handspring but needs a back tuck for the routine, one private lesson is not going to accomplish this.  Athletes progress at different times; it takes longer to gain certain skills than others.  Athletes should work on perfecting and consistently performing skills before rushing to the next skill.  Classes are very beneficial as well.  Athletes need to work on repetition and work on the skills as frequently as their schedule will allow.  Athletes that are focused and concentrate on what the coach has instructed them to do will see great growth in a well designed and efficient class.

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