Privates are a really common thing in BJJ, so much so that basically any instructor will offer an hour of their time for a set price. You’ll find that throughout the course of their development, almost every competitor will have paid for a private lesson at one point or another. But that begs the question, just because privates are used so often in BJJ, are they actually worth it in the end?
There isn’t a really a set answer to this question and instead, it depends almost entirely on each individual and how they can answer the following questions honestly:
- How experienced are you already?
- What is it that you need to work on exactly?
- What areas does your coach really specialize in?
- How often are you training to begin with?
The first is easy and it should be pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t think about it. If you’re a white belt only a few months into your journey then the likelihood is that you really just need to get used to BJJ and the fundamental concepts of it. Alongside this, you simply don’t have the same level of ability to retain information from training than an experienced purple or brown belt will. Taking a private lesson at this point might not really be worth it, when you’re probably only going to get the same benefit as a regular lesson.
As for the second, your actual answer doesn’t really matter. What you need to work on is irrelevant, but it’s absolutely vital that you have something in mind before you step on the mats for your private lesson. If you’re going to turn up and ask your coach what he thinks, roll a few times and then ask what you’re doing wrong, you’re going to waste a whole lot of time. You could do the same after a roll with your coach during a regular session, instead you should already know what you want to work on and come to your private with that in mind. That way you can get straight to work from the moment it starts.
The third question is more about ensuring that you get the right person to meet your needs and goes together with the previous one. If your fortunate enough to go to a BJJ gym with multiple coaches offering privates then this should also help you choose who is best for you. If your coach has amazing takedowns and a really top-heavy pressure-based game, but you want to improve your inversion and leglocking, it may be better to use the money to buy an instructional and practice in training. Vice versa, if your coach pulls guard in every match and is a Butterfly-expert but you want to improve your takedowns, maybe use the money to go to a few Judo or Wrestling sessions instead.
The fourth one is just about facing the harsh truth of your own personal limitations. If you’re a brown belt with years of experience and your coach has the exact same game as you, it might seem as though a private is well worth the cost. But what if you train pretty casually and only come once or twice a week? Rather than spending a lot of money on a private session, just use that time to actually come to class more often. If you’re already training regularly and looking to push yourself further then go for it, but privates should supplement your regular training, they shouldn’t replace it.
The only person who can tell you whether or not BJJ privates are actually worth it, is you. But rather than just running headfirst into it and assuming that because it costs more, you’ll get more out of it, actually think about your goals and abilities properly. Make sure that the money you’re about to drop on the private session wouldn’t be better spent elsewhere, and make sure you’re doing the right thing for your own development.