If you're a developing pickleball player looking to improve your skills and strategies, taking lessons from a qualified 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 lessons.
[Bonus Read: 47 Signs You're Obsessed With Pickleball]
It's easy to plateau if you are making mistakes you don't realize. 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 options out there, it can be difficult to know where to start, who to hire, and how to train properly.
This piece covers three criteria you should consider when deciding who to select as your pickleball coach for lessons. We will also cover three tips for making the most of your lesson time, once you've found the right instructor.
Be sure to check out all accessories deals on Pickleball Central today.
How to Find A Pickleball Instructor
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 a bit more.
Some coaches are more cerebral and will do a lot of talking. Other coaches strongly emphasize repetitions and muscle memory, and you will do more drills and exercises.
Ultimately, you as the customer get to have some say in this. However, each coach definitely has their natural predilections and it's good to know a bit about their style beforehand.
What does the instructor emphasize, such as technical skill, strategy, or mental preparation? Reconcile this with your own goals. 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 dive into positioning, decision-making?
These are all questions for yourself first, but then ultimately for your coach!
Don't be afraid to shop around and try lessons with different coaches, too.
Experience and Qualifications:
Look for an instructor who has a solid playing background. You can go on the official Pickleball Tournaments website and look up their past results.
Most legit coaches should have at least some tourney background. It may be a minor mishap to take lessons from someone who has never formally competed.
Consider their experience level and any certifications or training programs they have completed. In today's pickleball landscape there are a multitude of training certifications. If someone has not competed much, they ought to have some of these.
If the coach has competed at a high level, certification may not really 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 delivering quality lessons.
Availability and Location:
Consider factors such as the instructor's availability, location, and cost when making your decision. 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, only players.
At the same time, you don't want to be paying top dollar for a very medium coach who has not achieved a high rank themselves.
If you are truly seeking top-shelf instruction, be prepared to pay at least $60-75 an hour, and often a bit more. However, if that person books up, chances are they may be worth it!
How to Make the Most of A Pickleball Lesson
Define Your Goals:
Before your first lesson, or any lesson, take some time to reflect on what you want to work on and what your goals are for the lesson. Communicate these goals to your instructor, so they can tailor their lesson plan to meet your needs. They can't read your mind, so be upfront.
Something as simple as "I've been missing my backhand drop shot a lot" or "I am having trouble blocking shots at my body" and it goes a long way to helping them craft the lesson.
Pickleball lessons are an opportunity for you to learn from an experienced instructor, so don't be afraid to ask questions. 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.
You will absorb more by "demanding" more info and knowledge in the session!
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 what you've learned into your games and to consistently working on your skills.
Too many novice players take lessons and then don't work on the concepts before the next lesson. But lessons are different from practice. Lessons inform smart practice.
But you still need to practice in addition! 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.
Bottom line about pickleball lessons
You must go about them in a smart way.
After all, they do cost time and money, so you must make sure they are working for you.
But by selecting the proper coach for you, and by optimizing your time with some strategic focus, you can use instruction as a great tool to become the best player you can be.
Pickleball lessons are a great way to improve your skills and strategies as a developing player. When choosing an instructor, consider their experience and qualifications, their teaching philosophy, and their availability and location.
To make the most of a lesson, define your goals, ask questions, and practice what you learn.