If you are looking to understand how you – or someone you know – could take up a pickleball coaching career, you have come to the right place. In this piece, we look at the various aspects associated with becoming a pickleball instructor.
Pickleball has been growing exponentially over the last few years.
Everybody is talking about it, and therefore everyone wants to play. The more players practicing the sport, the more they are going to want to improve, that’s just how we human beings are, and especially how sports work, you want to go to the courts and beat your friends, and if something in your game isn’t working, you are going to want to improve it.
Players, ranging from amateurs to professionals, want to get better at what they do. That’s where the importance of being a certified Pickleball coach comes in.
Why Become a Pickleball Coach?
Pickleball has been the trendy thing everybody is talking about. Many players assure you they know what they are doing and promise they can guide other players to do better.
Being a certified instructor separates you from these types of players and even from other coaches by giving validity to your words. People know that to get certified at anything you go through a testing process, and it is no different with pickleball. It is just like any career.
Completing a teaching certification opens new doors and legitimizes your coaching job. People can be confident in knowing that they are being taught by a capable instructor.
If you are already certified to teach any other racket sport like tennis or padel, it is almost a no-brainer why it’s also important to add a pickleball certification to your resume.
It’s a way of expanding your business and making sure you take advantage of the growing pickleball market. As the number of players continues to grow, so does the demand for instructors, so it’s essential to be part of the first waves of certified coaches.
It allows you to be one step in front of others who are just getting a grasp of the sport.
Maybe you have been playing pickleball for a while and you feel like you could take it to the next level and introduce others to the sport. Don’t think twice.
If you already run clinics or tournaments, getting your certification is a way to validate your knowledge, especially when there are always know-it-alls that want to teach pickleball to everyone at the local courts.
It’s the perfect time to get certified to teach pickleball.
How to Become a Pickleball Instructor?
The pathway to get certified might be simpler than you initially thought. After successfully completing a one-day workshop that includes playing and coaching assessments, and the online knowledge exam, you are ready to go.
All organizations have similar paths to assess aspiring certified coaches:
- Written exam
- Playing skills exam
- Coaching lesson exam
Luckily, there is more than one organization that can certify you to become a pickleball coach. Here are some of the most well-known.
Please note that the prices mentioned below are indicative prices and can obviously change with time.
Professional Pickleball Registry (PPR) is one of them. Check their website here.
This is the official partner for certification and education of USA Pickleball, which is the official governing body of Pickleball in the United States. They are adding more and more workshops all around the country due to high demand.
It might be a few months before they do a workshop in your city or state, make sure you are on the lookout and regularly check the PPR website for newly added dates. This is the certification I recommend the most since it’s supported by USA Pickleball.
There are three ratings you can get upon completing the certification process. You’ll either be awarded the title of associate coach, coach, or professional.
The difference is that as a coach you can introduce new players to the game and teach beginners, while professionals are certified to teach any level.
You have to be at least a 3.5 player.
PTR-certified members get a discount.
Steps to Pickleball Coaching Certification
- Join USA Pickleball for $35/year
- Join PPR for $186/ year, renews each August 31st, or $70/ year for PTR or PPTR certified
- Attend a certification Workshop for $147, which includes a study course, worship, and testing.
Another pickleball certification to look at is the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA).
It’s the first pickleball teaching association and a good fit for coaches outside the United States.
- Level 1 Certification: introduce pickleball to new players and teach at the beginner level. Liability insurance.
- Level 2 Certification: Beginners through intermediate players.
- Level 3 Certification: Upon completion, coaches are recognized as Certified Elite Pickleball Teaching Professionals (CEPTP). Certified to teach any level from beginner to pro players.
The exam fee at the time of writing is $100. Some of the other fees involved with this are:
- Workshop $150-$240
- Annual Dues are $140
Another way you can get certified is the Pickleball Coaching International (PCI).
Not a well-known organization but it is a very convenient option for those who are unable to attend a face-to-face workshop since it can be completed online.
PCI level 1 certification: 100% online, so coaches have to record themselves on the court and send the video.
- $299 yearly membership. One year of insurance for North American coaches.
- Annual dues are $149
PCI level 2 certification: 100% online. available for those that already completed level 1.
- $329 added to what a coach paid to complete level 1.
You can also look at The United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) in partnership with the International Pickleball Federation Academy (IPF Academy).
The IPF is the global governing body of Pickleball, with more than 70 member countries.
You must first be a USPTA Certified Tennis Instructor or USPTA Certified Professional to qualify for USPTA Pickleball Certification.
IPTPA-certified members will automatically be recognized by the USPTA upon verification so no need to get individually certified by both organizations.
The cost for USPTA Pickleball Certification is $229 as in May 2023.
Challenges to Pickleball Coaching
The challenges go hand in hand with how much the sport is growing and therefore constantly evolving. With new rules, shots, and strategies being introduced every year, it is vital and your responsibility as a coach to keep up to date with these changes.
Do your best to not have any of your students break the news to you when they ask about the newest serve rule and you had no idea it was even introduced in the first place.
It can happen, but make sure you stay as up-to-date as possible with what’s happening in the pickleball world. Following the sport’s more important accounts on social media and subscribing to a couple of newsletters can be a fast and easy way to stay informed on all things pickleball.
Remember that getting certified does not mean you know all there is to learn about the sport, especially with how fast-paced pickleball has spread.
Your education needs to be expanding at the same speed, if not faster than the sport itself. Try to be ahead and familiarize yourself with the equipment, tournaments, pro players, and even the different competitive tours.
How Much Time to Dedicate to It?
I would say the best thing before thinking of getting certified is to make sure you have the basics of the game covered and a bit more. Verify you know the score, the main rules, and the names of the basic strokes. Your level of play must be at least decent.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you’ve previously played racquetball, table tennis, or tennis, that pickleball is just a similar version of it and so you are essentially halfway there.
I was playing tennis for more than twelve years, and I had more than 5 years of experience as a certified teaching professional before I even started to play pickleball.
However, I was able to recognize they were different sports and that I needed to understand pickleball as the different sport that it was and give it the attention it deserved.
So I started to play at least 3 times a week for more than 6 months in a row before I even registered for a certification workshop.
I’m not suggesting that you have to be a high-level player to be able to coach others, but your level of play goes hand in hand with your certification, almost like they validate each other.
You might be able to fool people that haven’t held a paddle before, but more experienced students will recognize your level of play and therefore, how much they can learn from you.
I recently had a tennis coach who after playing pickleball just a couple of times was asking me what he needed to do to get certified. I have no problem telling him and mentoring him, but at the time he didn’t even know how to keep score, and in a way, I feel like it’s a disservice to the sport of Pickleball.
Try to spend a good amount of time on the court, playing experience is a big plus. The more knowledgeable you are of the sport the easier the certification process will feel.