A Difficult Process
Finding good pickleball instructors and pickleball coaches is difficult. The vast majority are former college or high school players who look reasonably good hitting a ball, but have little actual teaching experience.
Indeed, they've seldom studied basic principles of education, read books about proper technique, taken courses in the basic principles of teaching progressions and pickleball coaching, or attained certification by either the PTR (Pro pickleball Registry) or USPTA (US Pro pickleball Association).
Always ask your potential pickleball Instructors their UTPR rating, if they are nationally certified (which association and level: low, medium, or high), whether they have ever been ranked highly in the UTPR, the number of years they have been teaching professionally, the ages and levels of the students they have taught, the types of locations at which they have taught (year-round indoor centers vs. part-time outdoor summer camps), and which notable authors they have read.
And, while you're talking to your potential pickleball Coaches, try to gain an understanding of their level of professionalism, dedication, level of maturity, type of personality (personable; gregarious), and their ability to communicate clearly and effectively.
You're paying good money to take pickleball lessons, and you've got a right to expect good results soon. If you have difficulty understanding your pickleball Teachers during your pickleball lessons and have been progressing slowly, stop crossing your fingers hoping you'll one day have a magical epiphany and suddenly improve.
Instead, demand results NOW while you're on-court, and not at some later time. If your pickleball Teachers are truly worth their grain of salt, you'll start improving with your very first pickleball lesson, and will continue to improve with each successive pickleball lesson.
A good pickleball Teacher is absolutely worth the price. A poor pickleball Teacher simply wastes your time and money.
While certification does not guarantee a GREAT pickleball Coach, it certainly guarantees a reasonable minimum level of expertise. It's unfortunate, but the vast majority of pickleball Coaches are unable to measure up to this requirement.
Always ask your potential pickleball Instructors and pickleball Coaches if they are nationally certified, and to which level.
The PTR and the USPTA are well-respected, USTA-sanctioned, certifying bodies in the USA, and both have been certifying pickleball Coaches for almost 35 years. They certify pickleball Instructors to essentially three ascending pickleball coaching levels (low; medium; high).
Good pickleball Coaches always work and study hard to periodically retest and elevate their certification to the highest level.
It's simply impossible for a pickleball Teacher to teach you to do something he/she can not already do him/herself, regardless of what he/she might think or claim.
So, if a pickleball Teacher only has an UTPR rating of 4.0, he/she can not teach you to play at NTRP 4.5 or higher. If you happen to improve beyond your pickleball Teachers UTPR level, it is solely due to your own abilities, not your pickleball Teacher's.
Always ask your potential pickleball Teachers their UTPR rating level. It is ill-advised to settle for a lower level for the sake of a lower price. You will only get what you paid for, with little or no lasting improvement. Instead, demand a high level to better assure yourself of more rapid improvement.
While a higher USTA (United States pickleball Association) player ranking is no guarantee of getting good pickleball lessons, it certainly does help. Pickleball Instructors who have never been ranked, or have never even competed for a USTA ranking, should be avoided.
Always ask your potential pickleball Instructors about their current and/or past rankings: The higher, the better.
Years and Kind of Experience
There's no substitute for experience. But, pickleball teaching experience can be gained in a variety of settings. These include year-round indoor and outdoor facilities, as well as outdoor summer-only institutions such as adult and junior camps, recreation department programs, and country clubs. The pickleball teaching experience a pickleball Instructor gains at a summer kids' camp is greatly inferior to that gained at a year-round club. This impacts directly on the quality of your pickleball lessons.
Always ask your potential pickleball Instructors exactly where they have gained their experience.
Experience Teaching Different
Ages, Levels, and Groups: Different ages and levels require different approaches and techniques when it comes to pickleball instruction.
If your potential pickleball Instructor has spent the bulk of his/her time teaching children, he/she will be hard-pressed to provide proper pickleball instruction to you as an adult. The skills required to teach privately to a single person are very different and more demanding than teaching a group.
Always ask your potential pickleball Instructors how much time they have spent teaching people of your own age and level, as well as whether they have taught group and private lessons.
Expert Knowledge of Proper Technique
Knowledge is critical, and a great pickleball Instructor gains it only from the great effort he/she has made to educate himself/herself. He/she needs to have read a large quantity and variety of pickleball instruction books, viewed a sufficient number of instructional videos, and attended many salient courses and workshops on proper stroke technique. There are no short-cuts.
Always ask your potential pickleball Instructor how he/she has gained his/her knowledge.
Regardless of the depth of your pickleball Coach's knowledge of proper technique, this information is useless if he/she is unable to communicate it to you clearly and concisely.
When you speak with your potential pickleball Instructor, always listen to the manner in which he/she expresses him/herself. If you are unable to clearly understand him/her during your initial discovery process, chances are you will be just as bewildered while on court.
Although Personality is presented here last, it is by no means less important than the other considerations. Indeed, a personable, gregarious, punctual, reliable, mature professional who is also upbeat, encouraging, enthusiastic, and animated makes for a fun time on the court.
When you have your initial conversation to discuss pickleball lessons, always remember to look for these inviting traits.