There are loads of options for pickleball coaches, and it can be hard to know which one to go with. The best pickleball coaches are conveniently located, experienced, tailored to the experience you are looking for, and able to provide a fun and supportive environment.
The 7 Characteristics of the Best Pickleball Coaches
One of the first things you should look for when choosing a pickleball coach is whether they are conveniently located for you.
Think about how far you reasonably want to travel for a pickleball lesson. This will be different for everyone. If your coach is outside that distance range, it will make it harder for you to commit to your lessons, especially if you’re fitting pickleball coaching in around work. Nobody wants to get back from a long day and then face an hour’s drive for a workout!
Here are some other convenience-related factors:
- If you’re driving to a pickleball court to play, does it have parking?
- Or, if you don’t drive, is there easy public transport taking you where you need to go.
To find a coach nearby, start by looking through a coaching database like the Pickleball Coaching International Member Directory.
One option if you can’t manage to find a coach in the location that’s right for you is to try online coaching. This relatively new method involves filming yourself playing and sending videos to a certified coach over the internet. Your pickleball instructor will then film a response video, giving you advice and drills to practice to take your game to the next level.
Online coaching can work well for some people, and has become very popular in other sports, such as golf. However, for a sport like pickleball having in-person coaching is often a better idea.
Unlike golf, pickleball doesn’t happen in static bursts. You want a pickleball teacher to be able to see how you move and react in the moment during a pickleball game, and give you coaching based on that. It also works better because you get direct and immediate feedback as to whether they are taking your advice.
A robust background in racquet sports
Many professional pickleball coaches won’t just coach pickleball. As it is a relatively new sport, many coaches in the pickleball community will have started their careers teaching other racquet sports such as tennis, table tennis, or badminton.
This is not a problem at all – in fact, many of the best pro pickleball players on the tour circuits began playing the game through other sports.
However, you do want to make sure whatever coach you choose from the pickleball registry has a solid background in racquet sports, as these skills are easily transferable to teaching pickleball.
If you are a new player coming to pickleball from a different sport—say, badminton—it can be a good idea to find a coach who also has a background in badminton. They will understand the challenges in transitioning from badminton to pickleball, and can give advice on the best ways to harness your pre-existing skills.
Extensive pickleball experience
Though it’s definitely not a problem to have a coach with experience in other sports, you want to make sure they have strong pickleball experience as well.
Some good factors to look for are their skill level: you want a pickleball coach who has a UTPR rating of 5.0 or above to prove that they have the skills to help you play better pickleball.
If you’re an advanced player wanting to improve in competition, it can be useful to have a coach with national tournament experience. Finding a coach who has competed in the US Open, USA Pickleball Association Nationals, or PPA Tour can take you to the next level.
Check to see where your coach has been certified, if anywhere. Have they been coaching a long time? New coaches might be cheaper, but they can be more of a mixed bag.
Interactive coaching style
Pickleball is a sport, not an academic subject. You want a coach who gets you moving and practicing your skills rather than overloading you with technical concepts.
Look for an interactive coaching style. Better coaches will be able to demonstrate the shots and skills they are tutoring rather than just telling you how to do them.
How does your coach convey information? Do they give lectures, or do they get your running drills? Though there can occasionally be a need for the former, drills will get you playing better pickleball much faster.
Every pickleball player is unique. Equally, every pickleball lesson should be approached from a unique perspective.
If your coach has a one-size-fits-all template for their sessions, they might not be for you.
Instead, you want a pickleball coach who adapts their coaching style and lesson plans based on your improvements. They should give you custom tips to make you the best player you can be rather than hitting you with generic cliches about how to improve.
Well-suited to you
Even the best coaches won’t suit everyone. An experienced kids tutor might struggle to take an advanced player to the next level of competition, for example.
Think about what you are looking for in a coach. If you prefer group lessons, don’t go with a tutor who only does semi-private or private lessons. If you are of a specific age range or physical ability, look for a teacher with experience coaching your age group.
Once you’ve found a coach, see if you can have a sample session. The best coach on paper might not be right in reality if their playing style, teaching style, or general philosophy doesn’t vibe with yours.
Don’t rush into committing to a single tutor: have a look around, try out a few, and find one who can provide the service you are after.
Fun and upbeat
If you’re hiring a coach for a long-term improvement contract, you will likely spend a lot of time one-on-one with them. So you’ve got to make sure you find a coach you like!
Though some people do thrive on being challenged and pushed, the majority of players still fare better in a positive, supportive atmosphere. You need a coach who has healthy, effective communication skills—not just someone who shouts to get their point across.
Again: take your time trying out different coaches. Much like trying on clothes, it might take a few tries to find the right size. But when you find the right fit, you’ll be glad you took your time!
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