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Read This Before Your Next Pickleball Lesson (Guide)

If you're a developing pickleball player looking to improve your skills and strategies, taking lessons from an instructor can be a great way to make progress. Let's talk about what you should look for in an instructor, and how you can make the most of your lesson time.

It's easy to plateau in your pickleball development if you are making mistakes you don't realize. As they say, speed doesn't matter if you're going in the wrong direction!

It's good to get a trained set of eyes on you. However, with so many coaching options out there, it's hard to know where to start, who to hire, and how to train properly.

This piece covers three criteria you should consider when selecting a pickleball coach. We will also cover three tips for making the most of your lesson time.

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How to Find A Pickleball Instructor

Teaching Philosophy:

Every instructor has their own approach to teaching pickleball, so it's important to find someone who aligns with your learning style and goals. Some are harder on their students than others. Some prioritize fun and simplicity.

Some coaches are more cerebral and will do a lot of talking. Other coaches emphasize repetitions and muscle memory, and will have you do more drills and exercises.

You as the student get to have a say in this. Decide if you need to strategically parse out the game and situations, or if you are more focused on developing muscle memory.

Do you need to be shown how to hit a shot, do you want to know when to go for certain shots, do you want to study court positioning, decision-making? Or do you need to simply work on a shot, like a serve or a block, and can apply it on your own?

These are all questions for yourself first. Don't be afraid to shop around and try lessons with different coaches who may have different viewpoints for your game to implement.

Experience and Qualifications:

Look for an instructor who has a solid playing background. You can go on the official Pickleball Tournaments website or DUPR and look up their past results. Anything above 4.5 is considered generally advanced, and anything about 5.5 is considered pro or close to it.

Most legit coaches should have at least some tourney experience. In today's pickleball landscape there are a range of training certifications. If the coach has competed at a high level, certification may not matter to you.

Look for an instructor who is well-respected in the pickleball community, who had good reviews from other players, and who has a good reputation for quality lessons.

Availability and Location:

It's important to find an instructor who is conveniently located and whose schedule fits with your own. You don't want to have to drive two hours for a lesson.

It's also a good sign if your instructor teaches at a reputable venue and not a rundown and dilapidated court. These are the little signs of a good coach.

As for cost, it's up to you what is affordable. Some coaches are $30 an hour, some are $150. If you take a lesson from a top pro, it will not be cheap. Just realize that not all top pro players are necessarily good teachers.

How to Make the Most of A Lesson

Define Your Goals:

Take time to reflect on what you want to work on and what your goals are for the lesson. Convey these goals to your instructor. They can tailor lesson plans to meet your needs.

Something as simple as "I've been missing my backhand drop a lot" or "I am having trouble blocking shots at my body" can go a long way to helping them craft the lesson.

Ask Questions:

Pickleball lessons are an opportunity to learn from someone else's experience. This can help you gain a deeper understanding of the concepts and strategies you're learning.

During the lesson, if something doesn't quite resonate or make sense, say so. Ask things. Get them to explain it better. That's part of the value of taking a lesson.

Too many inexperienced players just go to the lesson and go through the motions. Make it an interactive, two-way street. Make it be an open channel of communication!

Practice What You Learn:

The most effective way to improve your pickleball skills is to practice what you learn in your lessons. Make a commitment to incorporating things into your games and work on them.

Too many novice players take lessons and then don't work on the concepts before the next lesson. But lessons are different from practice. Do drills or games with friends and really take to heart the new shots and ideas you've learned.

Even if you fail a lot at first, let yourself fail. And just have faith that you'll be a better player on the other side of discomfort.

Closing Thoughts: Lessons

Lessons cost time and money, so you must make sure they are working for you.

By selecting the proper coach for you, and optimizing your time, you can use instruction as a great tool to become the best skilled and strategic player you can be.

When choosing an instructor, consider their experience, their teaching philosophy, and their availability and location. And be direct and firm with them about your focuses.

To make the most of a lesson: Define your goals, ask questions, and practice what you learn.


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