We all need some help starting something new and beginning with pickleball is no different.
Many beginners, intermediate and certainly professional players have a coach or instructor.
Players who want to enhance their pickleball skills often look for a pickleball coach. You can do this in a private or semi-private setting (e.g., private lessons, small group lessons) or in a group context like a clinic or camp.
An instructor’s most common role is to help players improve their pickleball skills. Whether this involves introducing the game to beginners or helping experienced players improve their skills, they can help bridge the gap between what is and what is not possible.
Overall, group instructional programs are becoming more popular as they provide a fun, social way to play pickleball, improve skills, and keep budding athletes on the right track. You may have seen a sign at the rec center, gym, club or town hall offering pickleball lessons – either individually or as a group.
The best way to find a good instructor is to ask around – whether it’s at the gym, rec center, club or town hall. You might find a great coach for pickleball at your local tennis club or gym as well.
Unless you have tons of time and money you want to spend both of them wisely.
You owe it to yourself to not fall into the trap of choosing a pickleball instructor who is useless, leaving you more confused, frustrated and out of much of your hard-earned money.
Anything less is lack of due diligence on your part and perhaps fraud on theirs.
Here 10 signs you have a horrible instructor and some red flags to avoid losing even more of your money.
He shows up late for the lesson – not going to happen. You paid good money for this lesson. Whether a private pickleball lesson or a group, make sure you get what you paid for and make it clear right away. Otherwise, he’ll show up late the next time.
2. Minimal Instruction
Very little instruction and simply watches you. What’s the point? You can do this on a Zoom call.
He should be showing you exactly what to do, how to hold the paddle, proper swing, etc. Talking (and perhaps on the phone?!) for 45 minutes for an hour you paid for is unacceptable.
Inexperienced pickleball instructors will leave you frustrated with the game. Find out how long they have been providing lessons and to whom. They may know how to serve a ball (see serve with confidence: tips for a winning pickleball serve) and a few other traits but you need a well-rounded experienced instructor.
4. Age Appropriate
Non-age appropriate pickleball lessons are a waste of time and money. If you’re a more mature woman for example, having an instructor whose only experience is at a kids’ summer camp puts you out of luck. Make sure your lessons are from someone who who has taught folks roughly your age group. Ask of their experience working with people of your age.
5. No Improvement
If you are not improving at the game then clearly look to your instructor or even inwardly (e.g., are you doing what’s asked of you, have you been doing your “homework”, etc.). No matter your level when you start your pickleball lessons you want to get better at the game. If that’s not your intended outcome then what is?
You might as well just get a pickleball ball machine and practice by yourself.
Few pickleball coaches and instructors are certified but if they are you can expect to pay more for their time. And that’s OK – but you want to get what you’re paying for. If you’re just a very beginner then this may be overkill. Those players looking to take the game to the next level want someone who has the experience and perhaps certification.
A great pickleball instructor is only valuable because they use great efforts to enhance their knowledge. They need to be well-versed with lots of instructional publications, viewing lots of specialized videos, and attending many seminars and workshops concerning stroke technique. They will demand more per hour but may be worth their weight in gold.
Communication is key: regardless of how proficient your new pickleball instructor is, this information is useless to you unless he/she can convey this to you clearly and concisely.
Having the knowledge is one thing but it will not get to you via osmosis. If you are not able to clearly understand him during the lessons then you’re likely to become just as frustrated on the court.
9. Formal Training
Just beginning at pickleball? You want an instructor who has gone through a formal training regimen that hones the talents of introducing pickleball to new players.
Yes, pickleball is relatively simple to play but certainly there are rules, techniques and methods of playing that are brand new to you. If you’ve made the decision to hire a coach or instructor then you want to get someone with formal training and who has taught beginners.
An experienced instructor has a ton of experience and has seen it all, so to speak. You want to leverage off of that experience. And, yes, this sounds silly for a very beginner but you are paying for this! And you don’t want to be paying for this for years – you need and want to get to the next level of pickleball play, get the experience and maybe then get more lessons. All stepping stones.