Why Do You Need a Pickleball Coach and How to Hire the Right One?
From snowboarding to skiing, tennis to racquetball and a variety of other sports, having a coach/instructor on your side is a smart move. The exact same can be said for pickleball. But you might be saying to yourself, “pickleball is popular because it’s an easy sport to pick up, why would I hire a pickleball coach?” The truth is that when you have a qualified pickleball coach assisting you, you can improve vastly faster than on your own. Beginners get bit fairly hard by the pickleball bug and they often find themselves wishing they could progress a little faster so they can join the more advanced groups. Having a coach will help attain that goal.
So, if you’re curious about how to choose the right pickleball coach, we’ve got you covered with all the information you need to make the right decision for yourself.
Why do you need a pickleball coach?
Can you have a blast playing pickleball without a coach? Of course, you can, but taking on a coach can help you have even more fun playing this up-and-coming sport. The reason is fairly simple – a coach helps you get better at a faster rate than you can on your own. It’s all about bridging the expanse that exists between a newbie and an advanced player. Beginners are constantly picking up new bits of strategy the more they play, but a coach can help you get there easier with valuable insights, tips and “tricks” of the trade.
Ever heard of the phrase, “I’m going out to perfect my mistakes”? It’s common among self-taught golfers who spend years and years trying to improve a swing that never gets better. Basically, they’re just reinforcing bad habits with every swing. And while these hobbyists enjoy their time on the links, they’re similar to pickleball players who could use some guidance. A coach has an eye for every little move and can offer tips to correct these errors and hasten the frustrating learning curve to proficiency.
Are you a pickleball enthusiast who would like to see better play out of yourself but you’ve just kind of plateaued? You’re like countless others out there who are having fun but would like to improve. The fun part about getting some coaching is that it can be a social event, meaning you can have your friends sign up for lessons with you as you all progress together. If you prefer private sessions, coaches will offer those as well.
While having a coach help your group or you as an individual can be fun, it’s also serious business for coaches who have spent many hours perfecting techniques to provide a stimulating, informative and helpful session. The best coaches make all that hard work look easy as they guide you toward being a better player.
Working with a skilled pickleball coach can help you in numerous ways, including:
- Feel less frustration and get more enjoyment
- Hone skills in a variety of areas
- Identify and achieve personal goals
- Develop a more well-rounded understanding of the game
Whether you’re brand new to the game or have been at it for years, there is no wrong time to seek out the assistance of a pickleball coach. From striving to win the trophy at local tournaments to simply improving your play at a casual pace, there is a coach for every goal.
But how do you find the coach that is right for you? The following information will answer that question for you.
Understand your personal expectations when looking for a pickleball instructor
Before you begin researching coaches in your area, you need to assess your personal expectations. For people playing their first game of pickleball, that “instructor” might be the friend who has experience with the game. For players who have been at it for a while, only a skilled coach will do. But the level of skill a coach has is important in regard to your personal expectations. Do you want to turn pro or just win more games against your local crew?
Determining your level of play
First and foremost when seeking out a pickleball coach, determine your aptitude for the game. The pickleball player level of play can help determine who you choose to coach you. Some coaches are only taking advanced players while others have coaching skills better suited for teaching beginners the basics. That being said, you must also take age into account, because a pre-teen will probably require a different coaching approach from a person into their 60s.
Knowing your personal goals
In most business strategies, a goal is identified and then a strategy is built around attaining that goal. The same is true of pickleball players and coaches. Pickleball coaches can do everything from simply helping a hopeful hobbyist learn to play pickleball to assisting an advanced player completely change their playing style, but there is going to be one for each of those goals.
The more you can explain your goals, the better a coach will be at helping you reach them. It’s not uncommon for players and coaches to augment goals as they go along, making tweaks here and there as the lessons progress. It’s a fluid situation that all experienced coaches realize is important to recognize.
Knowing what you want to get out of each lesson
A pickleball trainer is adept at assisting players in embracing personal goals, breaking them down in session to address the finer points of play with detailed analysis and techniques for improvement.
You might have some expectations about what you want out of pickleball lessons but a coach will help you fine tune those expectations with their individual teaching style. Hopefully, you will have a chance to see the coach in action before you hire them and ensure there is a match between your expectations to their style of teaching.
Knowing your learning style
There is no “one perfect way” to learn anything because most people have different learning preferences. What works great for one player won’t work for the next. Before you seek out a coach, assess your style of learning. Are you a visual learner or do you prefer step-by-step verbal instruction? Do you need to be pushed to accomplish something or are you a self-motivator? Knowing this about yourself will help you find the coach that you will get the most out of.
Evaluate your availability to practice
Improvement doesn’t come without practice. When you make the investment in terms of time and money by hiring a coach, do both of yourselves a favor and put the work in outside of the lessons. Also, if needed, can you adjust your schedule to accommodate the coach’s availability? Some coaches will require you to come to their facility rather than your home court, so be ready to travel, or find a pickleball coach you like that is more local.
Think about what feedback style works well for you
Do you want a pickleball coach who barks like a drill sergeant or one that has a softer approach? Some coaches are more laid back than others, so think about what type of feedback suits you best as you try to learn more about improving at pickleball.
Remember, while they’re the coach – you hired them, so make sure you are getting what you want out of the situation and that you’re comfortable with the coach’s method of offering guidance and providing feedback.
Whether your lessons are private or in a group setting, know that you have a say in what type of coach helps you and/or you and your friends to improve in the game of pickleball. Finding the right one will ensure a positive experience that offers value to your enjoyment of the game.
How to find the right pickleball coach?
Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S. That means that while thousands of enthusiasts are taking up the game, more and more coaches are coming forward to offer their services. And while pickleball coaches aren’t as numerous as tennis coaches, you can still find one that has a coaching style that suits your needs.
Newcomers to pickleball often ask how to find a pickleball coach. The longer you play, the more fellow enthusiasts you will encounter, and it’s usually through word of mouth from these folks that you land a coach that will work for you.
Finding the best pickleball coach for a new pickleball player does not have to be difficult. You need to find the following:
- A coach who is highly recommended
- A pickleball skilled coach who has earned a reputation for training beginners
- A coach who is patient and has the skills to motivate
- A coach who trains at a facility relatively near you
With every year that pickleball grows in popularity, more and more coaches are springing up. You are surely getting valuable tips from some of the more experienced people you play with, but there is nothing like the tutelage you receive from someone who knows how to train and motivate new players. If you’re an advanced player that has plateaued, a coach is also invaluable, as they can provide insights that open up a new style of play.
What to look for in a pickleball coach?
A pickleball instructor can take an already enjoyable game and make it an even bigger thrill. If you’ve got a frequent opponent that always seems to get the better of you, a pickleball coach can provide the insights that can give you the advantage. But what should you look for in a potential coach?
From teaching ability to being focused on reaching goals, having the right qualifications to attaining years of experience, having the right personality to being a good communicator, there is much to consider as you seek out a coach.
Top important considerations for choosing a great pickleball instructor:
A pickleball coach must have a teaching ability that suits your personality if you are going to make any improvement and enjoy the process of being coached. Teaching pickleball is more than a hobby for many coaches who derive a fair amount of their income from it, but in order for you to see any value out of money spent, you should carefully weigh a variety of preferences, teaching ability being among the most important.
Every successful outcome is preceded by a well-thought-out strategy. A good strategy includes setting goals, so look for a pickleball coach who will discuss the goals you’ve set for yourself. The coach can even help you evaluate your goals and amend them to give you a more well-rounded experience. This discussion will give the coach all the information they need to know to make his lesson plan and get you on the right path.
Make sure the coaches you have on your list of finalists are qualified to be teaching you. Fortunately, there is an easy way to do that. The United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) has established a pickleball coaching certification through one of 17 USPTA division head pickleball testers. The certification involves a 3-hour education workshop followed by 1 hour of testing. There is also a written exam that must be passed before certification is granted.
Make sure any of the coaches you are considering have earned this certification because you only want someone who has the competence/knowledge that will improve your play. Certification should ensure that the coach has the knowledge of the game, skills and teaching abilities that are desired in any coach.
It’s important to note that just because a person is a certified pickleball instructor doesn’t mean they’re going to be the right coach for you. Be sure the person you choose has the teaching style that fits your preferences.
Years and type of experience
While years of experience don’t always guarantee a pickleball coach is better than a brand new coach, it’s always preferable to seek out someone who has some experience under their belt before hiring them and to know about their teaching style beforehand, as well.
Also, what type of coaching experience have they had? Are they pickleball trainers that focus on young players or do they have a list of senior players on their training roster? A pickleball trainer that works with advanced amateurs or professionals might not be a good fit for a beginner.
Experience teaching different levels, ages and groups
Choosing a coach with plenty of pickleball experience shouldn’t be an issue, as they will have to have displayed their knowledge of the sport to become certified, but there will obviously be different tiers of coaches with varying levels of experience and pickleball skill levels.
Some coaches will have spent the bulk of their time as a coach within a specific age range or experience level. For example, some coaches find they fit well in the youth demographic, mentoring/teaching younger beginners about the sport, while others will identify more with higher-level players and develop their coaching practice around players who are highly skilled.
Pickleball has been around for more than 50 years, so some coaches will potentially have decades of experience playing the sport. It might be important to some players to choose a coach who has advanced to the top levels of the sport as a player, while for others, the rank the coach achieved matters little. But most players seeking out instruction will agree that it’s important for the coach to at least have proficient playing skills.
Don’t be afraid to ask your potential coach about their playing experience, as they are likely happy to talk about it. But more importantly, ask them how long they’ve been training players.
Expert knowledge of proper technique
Pickleball knowledge is accrued by coaches through a variety of channels. For some, the bulk of it comes from playing the sport for many years. It’s not unusual for folks like this to have numerous people in their network for whom pickleball is important in their lives, which means the sport has become embedded in their lifestyles.
A good pickleball coach can also gain stature as a trusted instructor through absorbing all sorts of training material, either in person or through instructional videos and books. Many of the best coaches today have taken part in workshops where coaching techniques are shared among the best in the sport.
A coach might have amassed tons of knowledge about the sport, but if they’re unable to convey that knowledge to students in a meaningful way, they will be ineffective as a coach. Good coaches are good communicators.
If you sense that the pickleball coach you’re about to hire might be lacking in the communication department, they’re probably going to be lacking as a coach. In your initial conversation with your potential pickleball coach, carefully watch and listen to the way they answer your questions.
You want to enjoy your time on the court with your pickleball instructor. If they have an annoying (to you) personality, that’s going to be a bad fit and you’re not going to get much out of the sessions. You want a coach who is punctual and eager to improve the play of their students, but you also want someone who has a personality that agrees with yours. Again, this is something you should be able to determine in your early talks with the coach.
There are excellent pickleball coaches out there and it only takes a little work on your part to find one. Yes, there are plenty that won’t fit your idea of a good coach, but if you ask the right questions and keep a watchful eye on their mannerisms, you will find one that will help you improve your game and enjoy it even more.
Top 10 questions to ask a pickleball coach before you hire them
The old saying, “you get what you asked for” comes true when you fail to ask the right questions when hiring a pickleball coach. Whether it’s a lack of research, a hasty decision or just taking advice from the wrong people about a coach, there are plenty of ways to land on the wrong instructor and asking the wrong questions is definitely one of them. To keep you from getting partnered with an unsuitable coach, consider the following questions.
Do you teach adult beginners?
If you’re an adult just starting out, this is an important question and should definitely be the first one asked. Coaches often specialize in teaching specific groups, from beginners to professionals, so make sure yours has the knack for showing beginners the basics.
Where do you teach pickleball?
Location might seem like a trivial component to some, but you don’t want your lessons to be a hassle. It’s possible that your favorite coach only teaches out of their local courts, which might be way out of your area. Is it worth the drive? A coach that will offer lessons from local pickleball courts is going to be the obvious choice, but it is always important to ask a coach where they teach before you commit to lessons.
What is your racket sports background?
Pickleball coaches come from all sorts of sporting backgrounds, many of which come from a racket sport. Your options for coaches might have a strong tennis background, which is a red flag for some players because, in tennis, it’s vital to keep the wrist locked. The opposite is true in pickleball where utilizing the range of motion in the wrist is an advantage.
If your potential pickleball coach comes from a table tennis or badminton background, they might be more inclined to offer better pickleball advice. It’s worth asking about though, because some tennis coaches turn out to be excellent pickleball coaches.
What experience and/or credentials do you have as a pickleball coach?
While pickleball is more than 50 years old, it’s only recently that it has gained widespread popularity. That said, your potential coach could have decades of experience in the sport. Most players seek out a coach that has plenty of experience playing the game, hopefully at higher levels, but more importantly, you want your coach to know how to instruct players, which is why you want to ask about their certification. It’s no easy task earning certification, but you also want to make sure they’ve had some coaching experience, too.
What is your approach to teaching pickleball?
Every coach is probably going to have a different method in teaching pickleball, and they might differ very little, but there will be subtle nuances in how they approach teaching students various techniques. Just beware of “one-size-fits-all” approaches, as students have different learning styles. Also, not everybody should play the game the exact same way and a good coach recognizes this.
Ask them about their approach where interaction is concerned. You want your coach to be on the court actually showing you how to play, not lecturing about it behind a desk. You want your sessions to be interactive and engaging, not a yawnfest where you feel like you’re being lectured to.
The best approaches are hands-on, where students are shown by example, and then put through drills to really drive home the concepts. A good coach will know this and be passionate about making the most out of each and every coaching session.
Are pickleball lessons private or do I have the option of group clinics?
Pickleball lessons can be delivered privately or via group lessons. What is your preference? If you have a crew of people who are eager to learn with you, only choose a coach who offers pickleball group lessons. Maybe you want a hybrid of group and private sessions? Some pickleball instructors are happy to offer this, as well. Keep in mind that some coaches excel at private lessons while others find their style more amenable to group lessons.
What is your schedule for teaching pickleball?
Time between lessons should be spent practicing what was learned. Many pickleball players are comfortable with an instruction session every one or two weeks. If you’re looking for a more aggressive learning experience, you’ll want to ask your prospective coach if they can handle bumping up to more frequent sessions. Teaching pickleball on your timetable is always preferred, but listen to your coach about what will work best for your level of play.
How long will the coaching engagement last?
Most coaches have a lesson plan that is carefully constructed based on their style of coaching, but might also be tailored to fit the students. But how long will the coaching engagement last? The standard is six to eight sessions at a minimum and goes up from there. The schedule can also be structured around what a student hopes to achieve, which means there is no limit to how long a pickleball instructor will engage with a student on a regular basis.
There is also the length of the class that has to be considered. Adult courses can last anywhere from an hour to two hours. Again, the perfect scenario is where a session lasts as long as you want it to, but you’ll have to discuss this with the coach to determine what will have the most impact for your level of play and what you hope to achieve.
How much do you charge?
You wouldn’t hire the least expensive contractor to reroof your house, but if you do, you’re probably not going to be happy with the outcome. The same is true of pickleball coaches. If they’re charging bargain prices, there’s a good chance they’re going to offer services that are on par with that price. That doesn’t mean you have to hire the most expensive one. The goal is to shop around, see what the going rate is and choose the one that is competitively priced.
Keep in mind that private lessons are going to cost more than group lessons, but if you get more out of a one-on-one experience, it might be worth it to you to choose private lessons. Most coaches charge per lesson and the prices vary from city to city and region to region. Players in a major metropolitan area where the cost of living is higher will likely pay more than a player paying for a coach in a rural area.
For a baseline estimate, most small-group training costs $30 to $50 per person, per hour. For private lessons where you work one-on-one with the coach, expect to pay $50 to $60 per hour.
Can I come and watch you train?
Some coaches might close their practices to the public, but it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can watch them in action to make sure you’re going to get something out of it. You might find that the coach is extremely interactive, engaging and communicates their thoughts with great skill. Or, you might see all the red flags you need to move on to the next coach.
None of the questions here are out of line or are asking too much of a potential coach. In fact, they should be accommodating to all of the questions a player might ask. Failing to do so is a sign that they are holding something back and won’t be a good choice for you. Remember, it’s your money and they’re working for you, so do everything you can to be sure you’re spending your money wisely.
How to find pickleball classes and clinics near you?
Pickleball classes and clinics are becoming more and more popular as people of all ages and skill levels show an increasing interest in the sport. This means there are more pickleball clinics and classes being offered throughout the U.S. From teaching pickleball to beginners to improving the skills of those who have played for years, there are opportunities to learn and become more proficient. Check in with your local clubs and see what they have on their calendar.
Pickleball lessons for beginners
Pickleball lessons for beginners can help springboard an enthusiast into a lifelong player. However, not all areas of the country have numerous coaches from which to choose, especially for beginners, because some coaches prefer to take on more experienced students who can be easier to train.
A pickleball coach who works with beginners shows great patience and has developed a training style that is perfectly suited for people who are brand new to the sport. Beginners might need to branch out of their immediate area to find a coach that takes new beginner students, but it will be worth it.
Pickleball lessons for advanced beginners
Advanced beginners are those who have taken lessons or have a natural gift for the game and are self taught, have developed a firm grasp of several techniques but have yet to reach an intermediate level of play. Basically, they know how to keep score and can even rally with players of equal ability, but still get swept by more advanced players.
Advanced beginners are primed for coaching where they have the opportunity to learn more about the game and take it to the next level. Many coaches are eager to take on these students, as they don’t have to teach them the basic skills and can focus on fine tuning various aspects of their game and introduce new concepts that can be grasped with some repetition.
Pickleball lessons for seniors
Seniors are jumping into the sport like no other age group and were some of the first adopters of the sport. Many senior players have transitioned from tennis where the physical demands have become too taxing, yet they want to remain active. Coaches might have to work on some technique changes regarding wrist movement, but they generally have an easier time teaching senior beginners who have some racquet sport experience behind them.
Pickleball lessons for seniors somewhat resemble lessons for younger adult beginners, which is why so many clinics and lessons established for beginners share the same organizers with senior clinics and lessons. Seniors seeking out a pickleball coach could be better off with one that has experience training seniors.
Where to find a pickleball coach?
Beginners are often curious about where to find a pickleball coach, as they want to be competitive enough to join in on matches with others. It’s an incredibly social sport, so the more people you can compete with, the more opportunities you have to enjoy social interactions with others. It’s for this reason that beginners and even intermediate and advanced players seek out the assistance of a pickleball coach. Fortunately, there is much information online that can point a person in the right direction, but that’s not the only resource.
Best places to find a pickleball coach:
Browse online directories
As you might imagine, going online will offer a multitude of information about pickleball coach availability in your area. There are many pickleball online sites that have been established by clubs that have information about clinics and lessons. There are even some online coaching sites where you can find a coach that will travel to your local court and provide lessons, either in a group setting or private.
Go to a local pickleball club
If you have a pickleball club at a court near you, stop in and inquire about coaching. Once you know where to find a pickleball coach, see if you can observe some of the lessons. This will give you insights into each of the coaches’ instructional style and you can make a fact-based decision about which coach you should choose. You might even decide to become a member, at which point you could have perks available to you, like discounts on lessons.
Visit the few different clubs near you
If you’re fortunate enough to have a variety of pickleball clubs near you, visit all of them and see what each has to offer. You might find that one has more players in your age group or at your level of play. You might also find that there is a pickleball coach associated with one club that is more in line with your learning style than the coaches at the other clubs.
There is a reason sites like Yelp are so popular with consumers – hearing first-hand about a person’s experience with a product or service is highly influential. It’s the same with pickleball coaches – players trust the opinions of other players who have trained under coaches that are in consideration.
Ask around to others you know who play the sport and have taken lessons. They could be your friends/club members or you can even go online and seek out reviews of coaches in your area.
Take some time to research coaches in your area and you're sure to find a good fit for you or for you and your group. From doing an online search to getting recommendations from friends to visiting your local club or one in your region, locating a coach and taking lessons will be something you never regret.
Should you sign up for private or group pickleball lessons?
There are certainly great reasons for taking private lessons from a pickleball trainer, but there are just as many perfect reasons for taking pickleball lessons with a group. Which one is for you? Assess your goals, think about what you hope to learn and what your instructional preferences are and you will make the right decision.
The following are some of the top pros and cons of private vs. group pickleball lessons:
Private pickleball lessons pros and cons
For beginners who need the type of attention that a one-on-one session can offer, there is no situation more preferable than private pickleball lessons. The question is, do you have the budget for a private pickleball coach? Also, pickleball is a great social sport, which is something you’ll miss out on in a private lesson.
- One-on-one attention
- Instructions tailors lessons around your needs
- Opportunity to advance faster
- Ability to focus on specific areas that need extra work
- Can cost more than group lessons
- Going solo is not as fun for some people who thrive on their friends being around
- Gameplay workouts are not an option
Group pickleball lessons pros and cons
Pickleball group lessons can be a blast for players who prefer the group setting where they can interact with fellow players/friends. If coaches are in short supply in your area, going the group lesson route might be the only option.
- Less expensive than private lessons
- Socialization perks are plentiful
- Casually competitive atmosphere, which many players find the most enjoyable
- One-on-one attention is probably not going to be an option
There is no doubt that if you can afford it, private lessons are the fastest way to see improvement in your game. From new players looking to become more efficient and effective players in their local club to advanced players who have plateaued and need a boost, private lessons offer it. But there are also perks to taking group lessons, not the least of which is that it costs less and is preferable for those who enjoy the social aspects of pickleball.
Either way, finding the right coach in private or group lessons will yield many positive results.
How frequently should you take pickleball lessons?
Coaches will usually come in with a lesson plan, which lays out the expected progress and when new techniques will be taught. It’s not uncommon for pickleball lessons to occur twice weekly. Coaches who are teaching pickleball to beginners will start with four to six lessons that explain the basics and get the players in a position to play games on their own. Progressing faster could result in more frequent sessions, whereas players who don’t have a lot of time to practice between sessions might require less frequent lessons.
Most players find that a weekly lesson suits their schedules, especially those who have full-time jobs or children or both. Furthermore, those with busy schedules and less time to practice also prefer a once-per-week lesson.
How much do pickleball lessons cost?
A frequently asked question is, “how much do pickleball lessons cost?” Unfortunately, there is no set fee for lessons on a national level. Your location will probably dictate the price. The experience of your coach will also factor into the overall charge for lessons, as more experienced coaches can demand a higher fee. One of the most influential factors regarding price is whether the lesson will be private or in a group setting.
The following information is generalized and is our best estimate based on information we’ve ascertained from around the country. Again, the cost one might pay for a lesson in rural South Dakota will likely be far less expensive than what someone will pay for instruction in the ritzy section of Miami Beach.
Private pickleball lessons cost $50-$130 per hour
In some areas of the country, perhaps those that are fairly rural or where the cost of living is lower, you can find private lessons for $50 to $60 an hour for beginners or for those who are still fairly new to the game.
For the more advanced players who want to drill down on very specific technical aspects of play, a more advanced coach will be required. Expect the coach to charge between $90 and $130 per lesson, as these coaches are professional-quality level and have put the time into coaching at this level.
Small group pickleball training cost $30-$50 per person per hour
One of the most popular platforms for pickleball instruction is the small group under the tutelage of a coach all at the same time. It’s popular for two reasons: price and socialization. A group of friends who love to play pickleball can up their game by joining together in paying for a group session or a package of lessons that will enhance their game.
While the price per person per hour is estimated at around $30 to $50, this can vary widely depending on the region. But generally, the more people in the group, the less you will pay. For example, a session containing only two people could run $60 to $70 per hour per person, whereas a group of four will pay $40 to $50 per person.
Find the pickleball coach that suits your needs
Discovering the game of pickleball is an exciting time for players as it opens the doors to new friends, improved health and better quality of life. If you’re like so many other enthusiasts who want to bring in a pickleball coach to improve your ability to play, doing your research will result in money and time well spent.
Even when you find the right pickleball instructor, there will be some “growing pains” as you feel each other out and get in a groove. Maybe you feel like you’re being pushed too hard or not hard enough – don’t get frustrated, as these things almost always work themselves out. And if they don’t work out, you can always find another instructor.
Remember, it’s your money, so just be sure to do as much as you can to learn about the coaches in your area before you spend your hard-earned cash on them. Ask any seasoned pickleball player and they’ll tell you that it is definitely worth your time and money to bring in a coach to help you improve your game, as they have the insights that will put you on a fast track to being a better competitor and a player who simply gets more out of the game.