We featured the Arizona-based coach Riley Palmer in an article about a father-and-son duo who had searched her out when looking for a top pickleball coach.
Riley, or “Smiley Riley” as she is known, is a mother of three and runs a thriving pickleball coaching business in Scottsdale. However, she also runs clinics around Maricopa County, The U.S. and internationally.
“This Sport Doesn’t Discriminate”
Palmer tells how she originally picked up pickleball as being short in stature (5’2), she was limited in the number of pick-up sports she could compete in around her neighborhood. Pickleball turned out to be the answer!
Riley says, “This sport doesn’t discriminate based on age, sex or background.
“I have routinely been beaten by players older than me (and younger). I have been beat by players that are not considered to be in great athletic shape. I have learned don’t ever let a player with a knee brace fool you!”
Indeed, her first experience of the sport was when she went along to some courts alone as a total beginner just looking for a game.
She ended up being put in with a group of advanced players. However, in keeping with pickleball’s sociable reputation, each one of them took her and worked with her.
“It Became My Focus”
As she says, “I now know that really was very kind of them. They were training that day and by no means needed to work with a beginner. That day, I fell in love with not only the sport but the community.”
“It became my focus, and I have not stopped since – training, drilling multiple times a week, competing, and teaching individuals at schools, clinics, and at the Prestiges JW Marriott Desert Ridge.
“I love bringing all ages into this sport and working with those that want to continue their development.”
Riley says on her website that her goal is to make you the player that you want to become.
She is totally flexible and fits in with her clients’ requests. If they just want to learn the game and to be able to play with their friends, she can coach them to do just that.
If you want to “kick booty,” as she says, no problem. She can teach you that as well.
Custom Training Plans
Even if your aspirations are higher and you wish to take part in tournaments, she will work with you to achieve that goal.
She says, “I will train you, navigate the world of registration for tournaments, and see what path is best for you. I can even be there to coach you on your game day!”
Although she can provide custom plans for all sorts of requests, here are the main services she offers.
- One-on-one private lessons are ideal for beginners and those ready to focus and train for competition level. These lessons allow her to derive a game plan specific to your needs.
($60-$80 per hour).
- Group lessons are a great way to learn with friends or make new ones. With a group of 3 to 4 players, drills and game scenarios allow you to focus on game strategy – and pickleball needs a lot of strategy (1 hour, 2 players: $80; 3 players: $100; 4 players: $120. 1.5 hours, 2 players: $120; 3 players: $140; 4 players: $160).
- Pickleball team building and couples’ or girls’ night-out events are a blast. She will come up with the best format for your event, which may include an hour of coaching, followed by round-robin gameplay, ending with all sorts of fun awards.
“I Care About My Students”
Let’s leave Riley with the final word: “I invest in my coaching by playing. I keep loyal clients, and word of mouth goes a long way.
“I care about my students and their progress. I follow up with them and try to drive them to do their best. I love teaching and I think it shines through when I step on the court to play or to teach.”
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