Before we begin this discussion, I want to be completely clear about something. I am a professional softball instructor! I make my living from giving lessons to a wide ranging group of softball players. So, now that you know I do have a dog in this fight, let’s get down to answering another very complicated question.
How young is too young?
Or when should we start paying for softball instruction?
There is no hard, fast, easy answer to this question. I currently have players ranging from 7 years old, all the way up to college freshmen who still work with me when they come home for breaks.
Players of all skill levels can benefit from professional instruction but I also think there are some instances where paying someone to work with your softball athlete is a bad investment, no matter what their age.
Some very young players are perfect candidates for lessons. Here are some questions that I think will help you decide:
1. Does your child have a real passion for the game of fastpitch softball?
2. Are you capable of teaching her the skills she needs to learn?
3. Are you too busy to spend a significant amount of time working with your daughter?
4. Have you and your daughter progressed to the point where you are not comfortable teaching her higher-level skills?
The answers to these questions will give you some information that will be helpful.
If you are dragging your kid to lessons, kicking and screaming, then she shouldn’t be in lessons, no matter what her age.
But, if she really loves the game and wants to invest herself into taking her game to the highest levels, then she needs lessons, no matter what her age.
If you have the time and knowledge to work with your child on the fundamentals and basic skills of the game, then she doesn’t need to be in lessons. Hopefully, you don’t need to pay an instructor to play catch with your kid, but if she really wants to play she needs to learn the right way, from the beginning.
If you don’t have the time or expertise to teach your kid the basics then she needs lessons, no matter what her age.
If your daughter is very dedicated to the game and her level of play has passed you by, then she really needs lessons. This should be clear to everyone that has reached this point in the development of their young softball player. But don’t get caught up in a “keeping up with the Joneses” situation where you are only getting instruction because someone else on your team is.
If you have come to the conclusion that lessons are in your players future then I suggest you read my blog about how to select the right instructor. There is a bunch of great information in that one.
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.