Becoming a pro pickleball coach is an ambitious goal, but it is achievable if you have the drive to succeed. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort necessary, and start at the very bottom of the ladder, you may just find yourself teaching the pros one day.
Instructions to Become a Pro Pickleball Coach
Step 1 – Gain the experience that a pro tennis coach needs
You have to know the ins and outs of the sport like no other; usually, you can only gain this experience by competing yourself. You should play at the professional level for several years before pursuing a coaching career.
Step 2 – Practice teaching
Being able to play pickleball and being able to teach it to others are two very different skills. The best way to gain experience in a teaching setting is to work as an assistant for another pro pickleball coach. You can learn how things work and pick up tips and tricks along the way. You may also be able to land a job at a pickleball camp or other facility that would give you invaluable experience teaching pickleball to students.
Step 3 – Get certified
There are two professional pickleball organizations in the US, the Professional Pickleball Registry (PPR) and the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), if you want to be a pro pickleball coach you should join. This will help you keep up on the latest news and information in the field, and provide valuable networking contacts that you normally wouldn’t have access to.
Step 4 – Keep learning
A pro pickleball coach has a love for the game and a genuine desire to learn more about it. So keep learning, and then share that knowledge with your students.
Life as a Teaching Pro: Difficulties
Pickleball teachers work in a wide range of job environments. The pro at an expensive resort might work mostly with adult students who are there for a week or less. An assistant pro at a big suburban club might work almost exclusively with kids and see many of them every week for many years.
Pay can can be as little as $10 per hour for an assistant pro to over $100 an hour for someone whose name is a major draw. Despite the variations in the job description of a pickleball teaching pro, most pros encounter similar difficulties and benefits.
- Teaching can hurt your game. Feeding balls all day takes a toll on your arm, and so can full-court hitting, especially at less than full power, where you have to restrain your natural swing speed. Hitting with students can also build some bad subconscious tendencies, causing you to forget occasionally that you’re in the middle of a match, not a lesson.
- Battling abundant myths. Many common misconceptions about pickleball have millions of devoted followers and some among these who have become experts at repeating the mythology. Knowing what you’re talking about can sometimes put you at odds with popular beliefs.
- Business. Many pros are self-employed, and even if you’re employed by a club, you’re still a one-person business in many ways. The best pros are highly organized, dependable, and good at self-promotion, which includes communicating with students’ families about what you’re trying to accomplish. These skills come more easily to some than others. You’ll also have to deal with people in positions of power within your tennis community whose expectations might not agree with your personality and philosophy.
- Subjectivity. Your effectiveness as a teacher will be hard to measure. Each student has unique abilities, which makes the speed of his or her progress always relative. Coaching one student to a 3.5 player skill level may indicate much greater teaching skill than coaching another to a 5.0. Having students who keep enjoying pickleball and improving will be your most important basic feedback, but you’ll run into situations where you wish your effectiveness could be measured more precisely and objectively.
- Wear and tear. Teaching pickleball full time through a normal retirement age of 65 or so is a tough proposition. Forty hours a week of running around a pickleball court and feeding balls takes a toll as the years add up. One thing that is essential is your footwear, make sure that you are playing in a quality pair of pickleball shoes so you do not pickup repetitive injuries. Most older teaching pros either work part time or go into more of a management position.
Life as a Teaching Pro: Benefits
- Getting paid to play. The majority of your lessons might give you no chance to really play at all, but you’ll probably, at some point each day, get an advanced student or two with whom it will be your job to do some full-speed hitting.
- Plenty of exercise. Unlike your office-bound friends, you won’t have to worry about squeezing in some physical activity each day.
- Being in the business of providing fun. If you’re a decent teacher, you’ll be trying to help people have fun all day, even while you’re giving them serious instruction. You’ll generally see people at their happiest, especially if you’re good at minimizing frustration.
- Enjoyable students. You might not look forward to seeing every single one of your students, but you’ll probably be amazed at how many interesting, funny people you get to spend your day with.
- Autonomy. Some teaching jobs give you almost complete autonomy, while at others, you’ll be closely monitored. If you’re a talented teacher, you’ll be able to find a job that gives you the level of autonomy you want.
- Continuous learning about pickleball. If you enjoy learning, being in the pickleball profession won’t keep you from satisfying that urge. The best pickleball pros seek a thorough understanding of the how and why of the game, delving into physics, biomechanics, psychology, nutrition, physiology, educational theory, and bits of numerous other disciplines. As you learn to be a better teacher, you’ll also become a smarter player.