Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) – a national non-profit developing “Better Athletes, Better People” – recently named CoachUp its official partner for private coaching. Below PCA Marketing Communications Manager David Jacobson interviews CoachUp co-founder Jordan Fliegel about whether, when and how to work with a private coach.
Positive Coaching Alliance: What is the main advantage of a youth athlete to having a private coach?
It’s the best investment parents can make in supporting their kid to have success, however you define success, whether it’s making the team, getting off the bench or improving at your position. In a short amount of time -- for high value in terms of not spending a lot of money – you get so much knowledge and specific skill work, which makes a difference in the progression of an athlete. It’s also confidence-building and work-ethic training.
PCA: How far did you go as an athlete, and what was the trajectory like when you got private coaching?
JF: I was a back-up player on my freshman basketball team. I got a private coach who was a former college player at Brandeis, and I was a starter on varsity as a sophomore. I had a really good high school career, was recruited by over 50 colleges and got into a great academic school, Bowdoin College. I kept working with my private coach, and I went from being a back-up as a freshman at Bowdoin to being a starter as a sophomore. Then, as a senior captain, I helped lead the team to its best season in school history.
I became the only guy ever in the history of Division III to play in the Euro Cup league, the highest level of international professional basketball. Private coaching gave me my advantage. I’m a living example of the impact of private coaching, and not just in terms of skill. My private coach helped build my confidence, and that helped me become a better student and a harder worker, because I started to believe I could achieve anything if I put my mind to it and had the right person supporting me. Private coaches can reach kids through sports and really help them become better people.
PCA: What differentiates a youth or high school team coach from a private coach?
JF: When a team coach is responsible for managing a team, designing plays, teaching players to run them, monitoring minutes and things like that, it’s basically impossible to be the private coach for every player on the team. Private coaching requires a unique skill set: attention to detail, understanding the sport at a fundamental level and the ability to analyze your weight, your balance, your footwork and what you’re thinking as you’re going through the progression of the moves.
PCA: Is there a certain age at which you would recommend a private coach?
JF: Up until 7 or 8 years old, sports should just be fun. Then, if the kid is really serious about the sport and really enjoys it, “fun” changes. “Fun” becomes “I want to make the team. I derive joy from being great at this, and I want to see how far I can go.”
PCA: What should parents look for in a private coach?
JF: Basic factors are price, availability and distance. You want to make sure they’re safe. All our coaches are background-checked. You want to make sure they’re friendly, that they have good character, that they’re a positive role model. You want somebody who understands at a deep level, the skills, technique, the drills, the training that matters. They need the ability to explain it. It’s one thing to know it. It’s another to be able to teach it.
I encourage parents to go and watch the session. That can really be a bonding moment. It was for me and my father. My dad would watch and take notes. He had a relationship with that coach, and was very supportive without being the one actually pushing me through the drills. As a parent you should be able to tell right away that the value you’re getting out of this is unlike anything you’ve ever had before. Your kid should be saying, “I learned more today than I have in the whole rest of my life in sports.”
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