Whether you are just getting started or are already an avid tennis player who wants to improve your skills, there is no shame in reaching out for help.
Practice will always be incredibly important, but your all-around game will not develop in the right ways if you are practicing improper techniques. Sometimes, you need the guidance of qualified instructors.
Learning how to play from an instructor that understands proper technique, fundamentals, and more importantly, how to teach those skills will make all the difference.
The question is: private tennis lessons vs tennis clinics – which is best?
To help clear things up, we will describe tennis clinics and private lessons and look at what separates them. We will also examine how both types of learning environments help tennis players improve.
What Are Tennis Clinics?
A tennis clinic involves one instructor teaching tennis skills to a group of tennis players. Tennis clinics usually have 4-6 players to one instructor.
Clinics can be geared towards adults or junior players, beginners through advanced players.
It is possible to find a single-day clinic; however, most clinics last for multiple days with the aim being to improve each player’s abilities over multiple sessions.
What Happens During a Tennis Clinic?
During tennis clinics, students learn how to play the sport alongside several others.
Most clinic instructors will teach fundamental technical skills, such as groundstrokes, approach shots, volleys, overheads, footwork, and how to serve.
But with all of that to cover, there is only so much they can do in a group setting.
The majority of learning will occur on the court, where students pair up for doubles and singles play. During these practice games, the instructor will observe players and offer them in-game technical feedback.
This active learning teaches participants the rules, proper footwork, and basic techniques.
In addition to simulated match play, most instructors will build a variety of drills into the lessons to reinforce proper skills and improve each player’s abilities.
How Are Private Tennis Lessons Structured?
There’s no singular blueprint for what happens during a private tennis lesson.
Private tennis lessons pair an individual with a qualified tennis instructor, giving them focused, one-on-one coaching.
If it’s your first lesson, the basics of how to hit groundstrokes will be covered.
You’ll hit a lot of balls and make a lot of mistakes. The tennis coaching pro will make corrections and work to improve your skill level.
The instructor can tailor each lesson to the student to improve weaknesses in the student’s game.
The student will have the instructor’s undivided attention throughout each lesson.
A More Focused and Less Intimidating Environment
A private tennis instructor will tailor their messages directly to one student, rather than a group.
This one-on-one setting also means the student can have all of their questions answered without feeling that they are disrupting the entire group for something they may otherwise feel embarrassed to ask.
Private Tennis Lessons Offer Goal-Oriented Learning
Unlike a tennis clinic, which has to account for a group of learners, a private tennis lesson does not have to follow an exact lesson plan or cater to the least talented of the group.
The instructor can identify the areas that need the most improvement and develop specific goals to address those weaknesses.
For example, if a student struggles with their backhand, the instructor could run backhand drills for an extended period until the groundstroke has noticeably improved.
Pros and Cons of Private Tennis Lessons and Tennis Clinics
When looking at tennis clinics and private tennis lessons, there is not a superior option.
Ideally, a new tennis player would enroll in both, starting with a few tennis clinics to gain a basic understanding of the rules and techniques, then refining those skills with private lessons.
An aspiring tennis player should consider their own goals, needs, and budget and choose the option that makes the most sense for them.
I’ve broken down my perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of private tennis lessons vs tennis clinics.
Private Tennis Lesson Advantages
The instructor’s attention is focused on the student, and the lessons tailored to their individual needs. There are also far fewer distractions during a private lesson. While group play can be fun, it often causes individuals to lose focus.
During a one-on-one lesson, the student moves more because there are fewer situations where the instructor is teaching someone else.
For example, during a cross court drill in a clinic, each student may hit one or two balls and then go to the back of the line.
In a private lesson, the student would practice continuous cross court shots with an entire basket of balls, with the instructor carefully watching each groundstroke.
Private lessons can also be more convenient, as the instructor is more likely to work with the individual student’s schedule.
Tennis Clinic Advantages
Since learning occurs in a group setting, participants learn how to play with others. This social aspect is one of the major advantages of enrolling in a clinic.
Entry-level tennis players get the opportunity to match with players that have similar levels of skill. Players can learn from the mistakes of others and quickly learn how to adapt their own game.
If an intermediate or advanced clinic, the same benefits exist – finding tennis players of a similar skill level.
It also provides an opportunity to meet others that share an interest in the sport.
When you are first starting, meeting new tennis players can be somewhat intimidating, so going into an environment where everyone is just starting can be a great opportunity to meet people to play with after the clinic.
Tennis clinics are also a more cost-effective way to learn. Since one instructor can teach multiple students at once, costs are spread out, and each individual pays less than they would for private lessons.
Private Tennis Lesson Disadvantages
Private tennis lessons are more expensive than tennis clinics! If you want the benefits of one-on-one coaching, you have to pay for the instructor’s time.
You also lose the social aspect you get with a tennis clinic, which can be beneficial for both young players and adults just starting in the sport.
Making friends and learning with others in a non-intimidating clinic can be an excellent way to increase enthusiasm. It is also a great way to potentially meet new people to play with outside of private lessons.
Tennis Clinic Disadvantages
Since tennis clinics are group-learning environments, individuals may not receive the focused attention needed to significantly improve their game.
The instructor could miss details, such as improper form or swing mechanics, which may be harder to correct later.
Clinics have structure for hitting a bunch of tennis balls which allows everyone to be at their own level not affecting anyone else.
Once simulated match play begins, everyone is affected by the level of each other player. For instance, if a drill never gets past two hits, that can be frustrating.
Is Tennis Difficult to Learn?
Tennis can be a frustrating sport when first starting out.
Learning basic tennis skills is not necessarily difficult.
You could learn enough to hit a ball back and forth within a couple of hours, but if you want to be a skillful player, it can take years of dedication and practice.
What Makes a Good Tennis Coach?
In addition to experience and a thorough understanding of the sport, a good tennis coach should be enthusiastic, motivating, and dedicated to improving each student’s abilities.
They need to be able to communicate effectively so that constructive feedback is well-received and implemented.
How Much do Private Tennis Lessons Cost?
Tennis lessons range in price depending on where they are taught and how much experience the instructor has, but on average, private lessons cost about $50-$70 per hour.
Are Private Tennis Lessons Worth It?
Private tennis lessons are worth the cost if they fit your schedule, needs, and goals.
Where tennis clinics can be a cost-effective way to learn the basics and provide match simulation and drilling opportunities, private lessons are much more personalized and focused on improving the individual tennis player’s game.
Private lessons can significantly improve your overall game due to one-on-one attention. If that is important to you, private lessons can be well worth the price.
Don’t avoid tennis clinics altogether, but peppering in private lessons here and there can boost your skills significantly.
Do Tennis Lessons Help?
Tennis lessons definitely help.
No matter what your skill level is, learning from an instructor who knows more about the sport than you will improve you as a player.
Having a qualified instructor help you perfect your technique and improve your on-court awareness can be incredibly beneficial.
Private Tennis Lessons vs Tennis Clinics…
In my opinion there is no true winner here. Both have a place in the development of every tennis player.
When it comes to learning how to play tennis or improving your tennis skills, both private lessons and group clinics will provide an opportunity for more court time.
My suggestion is to try out both situations and more than once.
The relationship between tennis pro and student is key. If you don’t like someone’s teaching style, it likely won’t be a good fit, but that doesn’t mean private tennis lessons aren’t for you.
Same thing with clinics – if your level is above or below the other students in the class, you’ll may either be bored or feeling glum about your skills.
Playing tennis is fun no matter your learning setting. Get out there and hit!