Okay, so you’ve just started and you want to catch up to everyone else. Alternatively, you’ve been doing this for awhile and are okay at it, but want to go swim with some bigger fish. You’re looking into private lessons, trying to get to more practices, and making new friends. However, you still aren’t where you want to be and despite being at this (possibly for years) you’re still not where you want to be.
My first thought is, good job, you’re on the right track. Spending more time at it and hanging out with people who are better than you will certainly make you better. There’s an easier route than getting private lessons or trying to give it your all at practice every week. Get your own gear. Now, no one expects you to have everything on day one. People already in the group will be more than happy to lend you some of their gear, or there might even be loaner gear owned by the group as a whole. If you want to get good though, I suggest you start getting some gear of your own. This doesn’t mean you have to buy everything on day one. Do your research, find what’s good, and start buying it piece by piece.
The reason I say this is not because loaner gear tends to be of lower quality or because I’m tired of lending my own stuff out. I’m saying this because if you want to get god, you have to start practicing on your own, at home. So much of getting better is the hours you put in and if you only put in hours at practice every week, then you’ll never be able to get to the where the people who practice on their own are. It doesn’t even have to be particularly good gear (I got my five juggling balls for a total of four dollars), the important part is that you have something to practice with at home.
One you’ve gotten your own gear, put it out somewhere where you will see it on a regular basis. Having it in a bag in your closet will not likely cause you to practice much. Have it sitting in plain sight in your living room or on top of your bed, and now you’ll be constantly reminded of it. At this point, start practicing whenever you have a spare moment. Whether that’s during commercial breaks, before you go to bed, or while you’re waiting for your ride to show up. I garauntee you that you will suddenly find yourself a whole lot more capable at practice.