As community centres, athletic clubs and local schools look to jump on the pickleball bandwagon, more and more people are providing organized instruction for new players. Here’s a quick guide as to how you can spend the first 20 minutes in a way that is safe, fun and effective.
Warm Ups, Cool Downs, Skills and Games
There are many different theories and methods for teaching beginners the game of pickleball. Many clubs offer beginner lessons and skills clinics. More and more players and professionals are offering their knowledge for a fee, every one sharing a different philosophy.
I too have my own philosophy on how best to teach beginners and I’ve created a simple curriculum to start with the basics. We are using this plan at Toledo Pickleball Club (Ohio) on Monday nights in our Beginner/Novice Training sessions, and I’d like to share that plan with you.
First, lets define WHO should be attending these sessions.
My philosophy of teaching is that you have to start beginners at the beginning, and teach the very basics first. The progression of adding skills in the order they are needed in a game situation will best prepare them to learn how to play the game.
We begin our sessions with a few words about safety (proper footwear, balls entering the court, running backwards, etc), and point out the court lines (sideline, baseline, center line, NVZ line). We mention the importance of warming up, however we don’t teach warm up drills at this session. Anyone interested in learning a few of those are welcome to come to us afterwards for that.
Step 1 – THE SERVE
A game can’t start without a good serve, so we start by teaching how to serve.
Step 2 – RETURN OF SERVE
A game of pickleball progresses with the return of serve, so it makes sense that this would be the next step in the learning process.
Explain to your students:
Next, we want to continue the progression of a rally by allowing the players to hit a third shot. Therefore, it is time to explain the two bounce rule. Players already have learned that they must let the ball bounce before returning a serve. Simply add that they also have to let the ball bounce before they hit the third shot.
By now, your beginners have learned how to start a game (serve) and proceed with a rally. There’s still lots to learn, but that’s enough time for a first lesson.
Although we discussed court position, as they are having fun rallying after the third shot, I begin to casually share some court position advice. For example, I will tell the non-receiving player to come to the kitchen line when their partner is the service receiver. After a rally or two, I will stop them and ask if they realize why I have put them in that position? Sometimes they have already figured out that they don’t have to let the ball bounce by the time it comes to them because the two bounce rule will already have been fulfilled. Often you can see the light bulb go on in their heads, as it starts to make sense! That’s when we know our beginning lessons have been successful.
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