January 29, 2023

Why Private Coaching? Reasons Learning in Front of Peers Can Harm Athletic Performance

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Dion von Moltke

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Why Private Coaching? Reasons Learning in Front of Peers Can Harm Athletic Performance Image

“Nothing will work unless you do.” – John Wooden, Legendary UCLA basketball coach

In today’s society, children start playing sports at younger ages. Parents sacrifice time and money in an effort to help their child reach their full potential. Multiple weekly practices followed by weekend games become the standard routine for youth athletes. But are athletes learning as efficiently as parents hope during team practices?

Distracted Learning

Many studies focus on the detriments of distracted learning. This correlates with learning in sports and retaining feedback from a coach. Athletes are distracted by peers, whether it be a goofy teammate or the fear of being judged, and many young athletes miss out on information from their team coaches because of it.

One study explains that distractions occur from a “conflict between two fundamental features of our brain – our ability to create and plan high-level goals versus our ability to control our minds and our environment as we take steps to achieve those goals.”

Being able to accomplish our goals depends on our ability to give direct attention to a goal-associated activity while also blocking out distractions that are unrelated to that goal. It comes down to which force is stronger: the goal or the distraction?

Fear Is a Mental Game Killer

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” - -George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Baseball Legend

Some coaches can be overly gruff and forceful with their feedback. Many athletes are afraid of being yelled at by their coaches because of this. Research indicates that only 5-10% of youth sports coaches have proper training relevant to their sport. This can be taken the wrong way by several athletes. One high school athlete noted that he hated going to practices because he worried about making mistakes and being embarrassed by the coach. During his games, he would worry so much about making a mistake, that his performance began to falter.

Only 5% of youth coaches have any relevant training

Being afraid of having teammates laugh because your coach is yelling at you or making fun of your errors can hinder you from performing at your best. This can start to decrease your self-confidence and cause additional issues with your performance. One of the biggest impacts of fear on an athlete is that they are not able to concentrate on their game and performance. Preventing the athlete from reaching their full potential. 

Influence of Peers in Athletics

Kids and teens worry about the judgment of their teammates. Self-esteem can grow when a person feels valued, worthy of respect, and satisfied with themselves. Not all team coaches have the time, or the training, to identify low self-esteem and to give positive feedback when possible. And should parents expect unqualified, and often overworked, coaches to be responsible for building confidence in young adults?

Social peer pressure can negatively impact an athlete’s performance. Distractions (as previously mentioned) and the perceived pressure of an audience can cut into technical skills that have not yet been mastered. When an athlete has not mastered their skills or movements, insecurity can grow.

Youth athletes who lack confidence will struggle and shut down to avoid being vulnerable in front of groups like their peers. This reduces their ability to receive information (coaching feedback). The lack of confidence to try something and fail doesn't let them work on skills necessary to perform at their personal best level while under pressure.

For example, a soccer player who struggles with headers because they were never taught the proper mechanics, might be too nervous to focus on a practice centered on corner kicks. Then in games, a missed chance for a header into the goal can lead to further insecurity. Athletes can overcome the negative impact of peer influence through training.

soccer coach talking to their team

In one study that surveyed volleyball players of various skill levels, it was noted that highly skilled volleyball players thrived from critiques of their teammates. It forced them to work and try harder. But, volleyball players that were less skilled became intimidated by teammate critiques, and sometimes lost focus during practice.

If factors like skill levels, personality, and confidence affect a person’s ability to learn and retain information, then why are there not more options for customizing our coaching approach for each individual?

Some athletes have no issues being vulnerable and learning in front of their peers, but the majority are more comfortable in one-on-one situations. That comfort increases their ability to learn. This is why private coaching can be a valuable tool for not only highly skilled athletes but also those who need more guidance and the ability to be vulnerable in a protected space.

Private Coaching

”Even in team sports it’s very important to find time to train by yourself ... team practice is great for working on your knowledge of the system but it’s not about you improving your actual skills.” - Chelsea Hopkins, WNBA Player, Blayze Coach

Parents have long seen the impact that one-on-one academic tutoring has on a student. In Bloom’s study, his research indicated that student learners improve two standard deviations above others when using one-on-one tutoring. That means that learners performed in the top 2% of all students when provided access to one-on-one learning.

It is important for parents to remember that quality team coaches are not necessarily good private coaches. One-on-one coaching focuses on meeting privately with a coach that advises an athlete on skills that need development, gives situational advice, and acts as a sounding board. There is a misconception that athletes only need a private coach when something is wrong with their performance. But this is simply not true.

A private coach can help you:

1. Provide clarity and focus on your goals. 
2. Gain accountability for progressing toward your defined goals, helping to increase your confidence.
3. Identify areas of improvement that you may not realize you need. These areas could be holding you back from accomplishing your goals.
4. Implement a personalized development plan that focuses on the skills you need to achieve your defined goals.

Most athletes want to improve their skills in their respective sports. Through private coaching, players can gain a deeper understanding of their sport, their role within the team, and the value of hard work and dedication.

But the best thing about private coaching is that it can help athletes of all ages, skill levels, and goals. You do not have to want to play at elite levels to make private coaching worthwhile. The increase in confidence and ability to understand goal-setting and achieving those goals can crossover into almost all areas of your life.

Private coaching is personalized toward each athlete and encourages question-asking without the fear of being made fun of or teased by their peers. They can block out distractions and focus on their goals.

This can lead to better sports understanding and an increase in confidence. Athletes can work on their sporting abilities in a safe, nurturing environment. Confidence on the field can lead to confidence off the field.

Also, when athletes train one-on-one, they have the opportunity to fast-track their goals. Athletes focus on their quality skills and professional private coaches help them develop new ways to play to their strengths while also developing their weaker skill sets.

”I have seen tremendous growth in my players’ positional understanding of the game through one-on-one coaching interaction. We are able to focus on the details and idiosyncrasies of both the player and the demands of their position... I have seen players benefit exponentially from private coaching.” - Jay Mason, Head Coach for Cal Poly Women’s Soccer Team, Blayze Coach

Is Private Coaching Expensive?

Finding a qualified, professional private coach can be expensive and time-consuming. Working one-on-one with a high-quality coach can easily reach $1,000 a month or more. (Depending on how often you meet) Time is limited and parents have full-time jobs and multiple kids. Coaches are very busy and often don’t have time to privately help your kid or if they do it’s not convenient for your schedule.

It’s an unregulated industry, so most coaches have little to no training and can actually do more harm than good. You’re often limited by the quality of coaches in your immediate area.

We started Blayze to make private coaching with high-quality professional coaches more convenient and less expensive. No matter where you live, no matter what your skill levels are, you can get matched with a professional coach that is highly trained today and work with them for up to 95% less than in-person options.

Interested in being matched with your own Blayze professional private coach? Click here to get started.

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Blayze Coach Dion von Moltke

Dion von Moltke

Won the 2013 Rolex at Daytona 24 Hour

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