A Private Lesson:
Pros: You have the option of tailoring the lesson to what you want. You can get the best technical instruction with a private lesson. You can also get exercise or learn strategy or even just hit if you want. If you want to reach your best long-term potential, you need good technique. Undoubtedly, privates will help you with your technique the most.
Cons: This is certainly the most expensive form of organized tennis. Private lessons are about 150% the drill price and 400% a ladder price. Additionally, if your child isn't really that interested in playing tennis and you are trying to push them into it, sometimes private lessons might get dry.
A Semi-Private Lesson
Pros: You can control who the other person is who you are playing with. Semi-Privates are also usually about 60% of a private lesson price. It can also be fun playing with a friend. You can get a little bit of technical instruction and play structured points against another player rather than with a pro who won't be trying his/her hardest to with good intentions of keeping you going.
Cons: A big misconception is that you still get a lot of technical instruction. It is hard to get too technical because everyone has his/her own habits and when a pro gets too specific with one person, it can really slow the semi-private down. Also, if one person improves faster or is a stronger level than the other person, it limits both players. Also consider, that if one person gets injured or can't make a lesson, the make-up situation could get very tricky.
A Group Lesson (Drill Group)
Pros: You can get a lot of strategic advice because most strategic advice is universal. It is also cheaper than a private lesson but beware, it is not normally 25% of a private lesson price. It is also a lot of fun, there are more people joining the party. Also, many groups are 2-hours, so you can hit a lot of balls.
Cons: Once again, not a lot of strategic instruction. Also, you are not at the liberty of choosing who is in your group (unless you set up your foursome.)
Ladder or League Matches:
Pros: Definitely the least expensive structured option. You get great experience playing tennis at its' most real form. You can improve your instincts playing in a "real-world" setting. You also could get good match experience and if you are ever going to play tournaments, you won't be as nervous.
Cons: You will net get any instruction. It's more "Here are the balls. Go play." Also, if you can't serve well, it can be very discouraging serving double-fault after double-fault.
Pros: It is a relaxed setting, it is cheaper and you could play with whoever you want.
Cons: You will obviously not get any instruction or feedback from a coach. However if you are playing with someone who is an advanced player, you can get assiatance. Court-time is also often available only during off-hours since successful clubs are booked with lesson programs during prime-times.
Ricky Becker is The Director of Tennis at the prestigious Pine Hollow Country Club and independently coaches high-performance juniors year-round predominantly at Bethpage Park Tennis Center. As a player, Becker was awarded Most Valuable Player for the 1996 NCAA Championship Stanford Tennis Team and 1989-1992 Roslyn High School Teams. He was ranked number one in the Eastern Section and fourth in the United States in the 18-and-unders. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 516-359-4843 or via JuniorTennisConsulting.com.