Coaching Material Basic










Train the Trainer - Introduction

Teaching Pickleball to Beginning Players           CLICK HERE FOR A BEGINNER LESSON PLAN


The material contained on this site is meant for training purposes only.  Pickleball Canada or the USAPA do not have certification courses for professional coaches in the sport of pickleball as yet.   Any individual that claims to be a certified coach is making a claim that is not supported by either Pickleball Canada or the United States Pickleball Association.  

The material on this page is provided by Pickleball Canada for all coaches, teachers, recreation directors and players to use at no cost.  All PCO asks is that any one using the material recognize the source. 

This package has been developed by Pickleball Canada to help instructors and coaches teach the game of pickleball to beginning players. This package can be used with players of all ages. The amount of material covered in one lesson may be varied to accommodate age and available court space. It is important that instructors try to vary the delivery so there is time for players to participate and practice. 

One of the best teaching strategies is to create an environment where players are encouraged to help each other in a cooperative manner. Players should feel comfortable asking questions, in fact, questions should be encourged.

We would like to thank all of you in advance for taking on the challenge of teaching the great game of pickleball. It is through the efforts of people like you that others will enjoy playing the fastest growing sport in Canada. 

This package is in draft format and will be updated as it is tested and instructors and students make comments. We would appreciate all your comments at bfurse@sympatico.ca or rwroswell@gmail.com. Constructive criticism will only make this material better for every one. Click on the links below. 

                                                    - Teaching Pickleball to Beginning Players
                                                    - Stretching
                                                    - On Court Etiquette and Safety
                                                    - Wearing Proper Footwear
                                                    - Hyrdation
                                                    - Calling the Ball on Court
                                                    - Walking Behind Courts During Play
                                                    - The Court
                                                    - The Game
                                                    - Ready Position
                                                    - Basic Rules
                                                    - Faults
                                                    - Non-Volley Zone
                                                    - Serving
                                                    - Procedural Suggestions
                                                    - Score Keeping and Serving Sequence
                                                    - Basic Court Positioning
                                                    - Playing a Game

Train the Trainer - Part I

 

Teaching Pickleball to Beginning Players

This is the first part of a training session for instructors of beginning Pickleball players. As mentioned in the introduction, instructors may find they may have to reduce the amount of material covered based on the age and ability of the players involved. The instructor should allow 1 1/2 to 2 hours to instruct and practice the basics covered in this session.                                                                                   
Introductions

• Make sure you introduce yourself and tell students a few things about yourself, i.e., how long you have been playing, other sports you play and other interests or hobbies

• Ask the players to introduce themselves to four other people or the whole group if there is time. 

• Emphasize the fact that everyone is here for fun and exercise. No one should feel embarrassed about their lack of skill. Point out that some beginner’s progress faster because they have played other racquet sports but this is not a competition. Pickleball is played for fun and remind them to never forget that.

History of Pickleball

• It was first played on Bainbridge Island of the coast of Seattle Washington in 1965

• The two inventors were Washington State Congressman Joel Pritchard and his good friend Bill Bell
 

• They converted an unused backyard badminton court by cutting off the poles to 36 inches, making some wooden paddles the shape of ping pong paddles in the wood shop and borrowing a whiffle ball from a kid next door.

• The game was named after the family dog Pickles, picture on the right, because he

chased errand balls and hide them.

Stretching

Remind players that a proper warm up and cool down are as important for pickleball

as any other sport.

You may wish to demonstrate a few stretches for the calves, hamstrings, upper body,

and lower back.

Suggest that a brisk walk to the courts or a short routine in a gym on site is of great benefit.

On Court Etiquette and Safety


Do not run backwards:

• Demonstrate what is meant by running backwards.
• Discuss dangers of running backwards (easy to trip and fall, hitting head on court, breaking arms and wrists).

Wearing Proper Foot ware:

• Do not allow players to go on the court if they are wearing sandals or street shoes.
• Emphasize the importance of purchasing a good quality court shoe if they are going to play a lot.

Hydration

 • Players often need to be reminded to drink lots of water to keep from getting dehydrated especially playing outdoors.
• A quick mention of eating a banana to prevent muscle cramping and diabetics to take a snack break should be mentioned to older players.

Calling ball on court:

• Explain to students why these words are the 3 most important words on the pickleball court.
• Demonstrate stepping on a ball and discuss the danger to the player.
• Explain that you stop immediately return the ball to the other court. and replay the point.
• Stress to the students that they are not to run after the ball onto a court where other players are playing, but to wait until the ball is returned to them.
 

Walking behind courts where play is ongoing:

• Stress the danger of walking behind a court where play is ongoing.
• Explain why this is discourteous.
• Explain to the students the proper way of walking behind a court where play is ongoing.

The Court

• Take students onto the court and have them identify the names of the lines with you. You may wish to give them this diagram to take home.

• The court dimensions are basically the same as a badminton court.

• Students should know the baseline, Non-Volley Zone line and the Non-Volley Zone.

The Game

• Game played to 11 points ( games to 15 can be used in tournaments)
• Win by two points
• Only the serving team can score points

Basic Fundamentals (physically demonstrate each of these fundamentals)

Ready Position

 • The ball is not going to bounce high up to you like a tennis ball does. Pickleball is a bending game, so bend those knees.
 • Paddle grip--shake hands with the paddle. The point of the "V" between your thumb and index finger should be placed on top of the handle of the paddle when the face of the paddle is perpendicular to the ground. You may wish to use the term “Continental Grip”. Beginners should not switch grips.
 • Use both sides of the paddle. Never hit a backhand with the same side of the paddle that you hit a forehand with.
 • You can use two hands on the paddle and you can switch hands.
 • Always be in your ready position (elbows and paddle out in front of your body, feet at shoulder width apart, side by side on your toes, not your heels, ready to move left or right). Suggest players do a small “hop’ to get set on the balls of their feet. There are two ways to hold the paddle in the ready position (head of your paddle pointing toward your opponents, or flat side pointing to your opponents). Use whichever one works best for you. By maintaining the ready position you will improve your game tremendously.

• Put the left hand on the paddle to make sure you are focused on having the paddle perpendicular (straight up and down) to the court

Forehand stroke (this is for right hand players, lefties will reverse positions but everything is the same)
 

  •  Ready your paddle back into position to stroke the ball with your paddle level.

  • Step toward the ball with your left foot and make contact with the ball opposite the spot that you planted your foot.

  • Point your left shoulder at your target.

  • When the paddle is back as far as you can bring it, the handle or “barrel"should be aimed at the intended target.

  • Keep your left hand out in front of your body with your palm facing the ground at the same height as your paddle and this will help keep you balanced.

  • Watch the ball make contact on your paddle. Players are encouraged to make a noise to themselves to help concentrate – a whistle.

  • Keep a firm wrist, keep wrist action out of the equation for more accurate shots and to prevent tennis elbow.

  • Pretend you are hitting four balls lined up in a row during your follow through. Follow through in the direction of your target.

  • When hitting a low forehand shot, bend your knees with your right knee as close to the ground as possible and stay down all the way through the shot.

  • As with many other sports from baseball to golf, there should be a weight transfer as you pull the paddle back it shifts to the back foot and as you swing forward it moves to the front foot. This is how players generate power into their shots. Quickly return to your ready position.  


Backhand stroke (this is for right hand players, lefties will reverse positions but everything is the same)

  • Run to a spot where the ball will be waist high or as close to waist high as possible in your ready position.

  • Set your feet in a closed stance position (side by side) pointing your right shoulder and looking over your right shoulder toward your target then step with your front foot toward your target.

  • Bend your knees on low balls and keep your head and body down all through the shot and follow through.

  • Bring your left hand back as you pull the paddle back.

  • Paddle face should be perpendicular to ground. The handle or barrel of the paddle should be aimed at the target

  • Paddle head should start below the flight of the ball (low to high).

  • Contact point should be out in front of the spot you plant your front foot.

  • Keep a firm wrist at contact and you will be more consistent.

  • Watch the ball hit your paddle.

  • Make a long follow through in the direction of your target, see picture above. Pretend you are hitting four balls in a row will help.

  • After your follow through, quickly get back to your ready position for the next shot.

 

After demonstrating and explaining the forehand and backhand stroke, have the students practice each of the strokes (without using a ball) for a few practice swings. Then have players on each side of the net stand at the baseline and hit the ball back and forth to each other from baseline to baseline. Try to avoid having players standing in the middle of the court because this is considered “no man’s land” and you do not want players to learn bad habits early.

Basic Rules

Line Calling

  • All lines are good, except the NVZ line on the serve.

  • Each team is responsible for calling lines on their side of the court; they can not call lines on the opponents’ side of the court.

  • Line calling is based on the honor system and good sportsmanship. Be a model player.

  • Do not question another player’s call unless asked; when an opponent’s opinion is requested, that opinion must be accepte

  • All questionable calls (line calls and other fault calls) are made in favor of your opponents

  • If you and your partner can not agree on if the ball was in or out the call is always “in”.

  • Make sure that the call is made immediately if the ball is out. Either voice or by hand signal or both. The call must be made before the other team makes contact with the ball.

  • Stress to them that the ball is not out until it bounces on the court and they never want to let the ball hit them or catch the ball in the air.

  • Discuss with the students their responsibility of helping each other to make line calls by turning their heads to watch the ball including the serve to see if it lands in or out.

  • Explain to them that one can be calling the ball out as the other person is hitting the ball as long as the call is made immediately.

  • If you want to tell your partner to not hit the ball, yell “bounce it”, “let it go”, or “no”; saying “out” even though it is considered player communication could cause your opponents to stop playing. If a player does yell out, the ball must be called out again if in fact it bounces out. (Note: if your partner yells out you can still legally play the ball if you do not agree.)

 

Faults
 (any action that stops play or violates a rule) 

  • Each team is responsible for calling faults on themselves; faults can not be called by the opponents.

  • It is each player’s responsibility to watch their partner during the serve and volleys at the non-volley zone and call foot or service faults on their partner when they occur. Stress this point as they fail to do this.

  • Also stress to them that if the ball hits them or their partner on the serve prior to bouncing on the court it is a fault on the person hit by the ball.

  • Explain that if the ball touches you prior to bouncing, even though you are out of bounds, it is a fault on your team.

  • If your serve hits either of the opponents, it is a point for your team.

  • If a let serve hits the partner of the person receiving the serve it is a let serve and the server gets to replay the serve

 

Non-Volley Zone (spend plenty of time on this)

  • Have the students come up to the NVZ line while you are explaining the NVZ.

  • Show the non-volley zone and explain that it does not extend outside of the side lines of the court.

  • After showing them and telling them the name of the area ask them since it is called the NVZ what does that mean?

  • Emphasize to them that it is called the non-volley zone, do not call the NVZ the kitchen as that is a shuffleboard term.

  • Spend time explaining and demonstrating that you can not hit the ball in the air when standing in the zone.

  • Explain and demonstrate that you can not hit the ball in the air and have your follow through carry you into the non-volley zone from anywhere on the court

  • Demonstrate how you can reach over the NVZ line with your paddle and hit a volley as long as neither you nor anything you are wearing or carrying touches the line or falls into the NVZ.

  • Explain and show them that there is no rule against standing in the zone, but since you can not hit the ball in the air while in the zone, it is best to stand outside the non-volley zone.

  • Discuss and demonstrate that you can go into the zone to hit a ball that bounces in the zone and that if you see that a ball is going to land in the zone you can go into the zone and wait for it to bounce and then hit it. Also any ball that has bounced elsewhere on the court and your momentum causes you to enter the non-volley zone is not a fault.

  • Stepping outside the sideline beside the non volley zone is not a fault.
     

Serving

  • Remind the students why the serve is so important (only the serving team can score points)

  • Describe and physically show the students the serving mechanics

  • The ball has to be hit below the server’s waist with an upward motion.

  • The paddle has to be below the wrist in a vertical position not a horizontal position

  • The server has to stand between the center line and outside line. Explain about these lines extending outside of the court.

  • Both feet have to be outside of the back line of the court, with at least one foot touching the ground.

  • You do not toss the ball up in the air or bounce it off of the court when serving.

  • Compare the serve to pitching in softball or bowling; bend at the waist and keep your eyes on the ball as you make contact.

  • Your opponents should see the top of your head.

  • Do not look at the other side of the net.

  • Hold the ball lightly in the non serving hand keeping the arm straight without moving it up or around, and strike the ball with the paddle vertical to the ground with a good follow through, keeping the arm straight; don’t bend the elbow.

  • The further back you bring the paddle, the more power you have, which is especially necessary when using a wooden paddle.

  • Don’t toss the ball; you basically hit the ball as it drops from your hand as you bring the paddle forward.

  • Explain that the purpose of the serve is to keep the ball low and as deep as possible and that accuracy is more important than power. A beginning server should just worry about getting the ball in.

  • Remind the students that the only way to become really good servers is to practice, practice.

  • Serve the ball several times showing the students how to make a serve from their side of the net. Then move to the other side of the net and do several more serves so they can see what it looks like from that perspective.

  • Provide each person the opportunity to practice their serve at least six times (Note: do not have them practice the serve by hitting into the fence)

 

Procedure Suggestions

  • Have students serve from each serving box (right and left)

  • Instruct players to continue serving until they are able to get 3 straight serves in.

  • Rotate one student to the other side of the net so you can observe closely and assist each student in their practice serving

  • Move to the other side of the net to observe each student serving

  • Have two students on each side serving diagonally across to each other, but make sure they catch the ball and then serve it back. All too often they get carried away and want to start hitting the ball back. Walk around and observe each one to assist them in their technique.

  • The time spent on this will depend on the skill level of the participants. It is very important that each person is able to get their serve in no matter how short or high it may be in starting out. Until they are able to accomplish this major skill it will be too frustrating for them to move on to trying to play a game.

 

Score Keeping and Serving Sequence 

  • Many people think that this is the most difficult part of learning the game of pickleball, but that is not necessarily true.

  • You must always call the score before serving for two reasons: First, you are letting the other team know you are ready to serve and they need to be ready; second, it helps everyone remember what the score is and thereby avoids arguments.

  • If the server fails to call the score before serving, the receiver of the serve has three options: they can let the serve go past without playing the ball; can catch the ball and return it to the server; or can play the ball as if the score was called. In the first two examples there is no fault and the serve is considered a let serve and the server gets to serve again after properly calling the score

  • For the team which starts the game, only one person gets to serve, and the team gets to make only one fault. The person who starts serving serves until their team fails to make a point. (Then the other team serves.) Thereafter each team gets two faults (that is, each person gets to serve until their team makes fault/fails to score a point.)

  • To help in keeping track of the score, think of each time your team gets the ball to serve as a sequence.

  • The calling of the score consists of three numbers: first number is the score of your team; the second number is the score of your opponents; the third number is what server you are (either server one or server two).

  • In any serving sequence the first person to serve is always the person standing on the right hand side of the court.

  • After scoring a point the server always rotates (changes places with their partner) to make the next serve. You never serve to the same person or serving box twice in a row.

  • The person to start the game calls the score as 0-0-2. This means their team has no points, the other team has no points, and they are the start server of the game.

  • The ball then goes over to the other team to start their serving sequence. The person standing on the right hand side of the court becomes the first server (for that sequence only) and calls the following score: 0-0-1.

  • Using two of the students walk them through two serving sequences, explaining the scoring, what each number means.

  • Tell them that they will pick up on the scoring process as you walk them through playing an actual game.

  • Remind them that the partner who is not serving needs to watch the person who is serving and is responsible for calling any foot or serving faults the server may make.

  • Explain and demonstrate the two bounce rule.


Basic Court Positioning

  • Correct positioning on the pickleball court is all-important. Remember that the game of pickleball is played up at the NVZ line.

  • Walk the students through the correct positioning (note in the diagram above the team on the left is serving so both partners are behind the baseline because of the two bounce rule.  The team on the right is receiving so the partner not receiving the serve is at the NV line, ready to volley the return of serve.  His or her partner is receiving serve and should return it deep and move up quickly)

  • When serving both partners are back by the baseline. Why? Because of the two-bounce rule, the serve has to bounce and the return of serve has to bounce before the ball can be played. Also, the server’s partner should be watching the server for possible foot faults.

  • The person receiving serve has to be back as they have to let the ball bounce, but the partner of the person receiving serve should be up at the NVZ line on their side because when the ball is returned they do not have to let it bounce. Remind them that the person up at the NVZ has to turn their head to help their partner determine if the serve is good.

  • The person returning the serve should return the serve high and deep so they can immediately move up to the NVZ line. Never miss your return of serve so don’t try to make a winning shot.

  • The serving team members, once the second bounce has occurred, should also both move up to the NVZ line.

  • One of the main problem beginners have is failing to move up. This leaves them in the highly-vulnerable “no man’s land” (explain and show them where “no man’s land” is) where the ball usually is hit at their feet and is extremely difficult to return

  • Have students actually practice the correct positioning for serving and receiving serve. Do this drill several times with one side serving and the other side receiving and then switch


Playing a Game

  •  Start participants playing a game. Talk about ways games can be started. In an official tournament, it is a toss of a coin but for recreational play: it can be rally for serve or often just say “serve it up”.

  • Ask players to work in a cooperative manner to help each other. Suggest they are working a team of four and the objective of the game is for all players to learn and improve. There are no losers just winners at this point.

  • Remind players to play safe and not go for shots they know they either have no chance of getting or will have difficulty getting.

  • Tell the player serving that they must wait until all players are in the correct position before serving. They are to observe the whole court and tell players if they think they are in the wrong position. If they are not sure about anyone’s position stop and ask all players for agreement.

  • The server is to call out the score and wait to make sure all others agree before serving. If there is a concern, the player disagreeing must explain to the server why the score is called is incorrect. Players must agree with the sore before proceeding.

  • All players must call foot faults or service faults on their partner as well as themselves. No player can call a fault or line call on the other side of the net unless ask. Make sure this is strictly adhered to or players will start calling everything and you want to avoid this at all costs.

  • If the instructor catches a player not moving up to the NV-Line, going into the NV-Zone to take a ball on the fly, violating the two bounce rule, or any other fault stop play and ask the player what they did wrong. Do this in a non threatening manner and ask other players to help if they do not know. Really encourage the players to work as a team to learn together. Encourage them to call faults on themselves and on others.

  • Often you will find players will completely miss or whiff the ball. That is a clear indication they are taking their eyes off the ball before it makes contact with their paddle. Try asking them to make a sound to themselves as the ball approaches to help them focus. Remind them, “Look at what you are hitting not where you are hitting it.”

  • Players may find they are constantly hitting the ball into the net. Have them check their grip to make sure the paddle has not rotated in their hand. Ask them to check to make sure the paddle face is open or perpendicular to the ground. If they are hitting the ball with a “closed” face or the paddle face at a downward angle, that will cause the ball to come off the paddle in a low trajectory and into the net.

  • If players are “skying” the ball there is a good chance the paddle face is “open” or pointing up and the ball is coming off the paddle face and going high in the air. In the above cases, have the player stop, recheck their grip and take some practice swings to review the basics.

  • Finish the lesson by reminding the players that the best placement of any shot is at the feet of the opponent and next is down the middle. A shot at the feet is very difficult to return much harder than at the person. Down the middle, the net is 2” lower and it is between the opponents who may have trouble deciding who is taking the shot. I refer to the middle line as the indecision line. Also, down the middle gives you the maximum court space to hit or from the other point of view to miss.

 

This is a very full first lesson for adult players. Suggest that players exchange phone numbers so they can get together to play if their schedules are similar. If there is court time available, have them come to the courts and just practice serving. Although this is not the ideal, but an alternative, when court space is limited is to instruct players to find a wall or tennis backboard somewhere and put a line at 34” line on the wall using chalk or painters’ tape and practice forehands and backhands. They could either pace or measure 22’ back from the wall to practice hitting from the baseline.
 

Train the Trainer Part II

Pickleball for Beginners


This is the second lesson that trainers/instructors would use to instruct beginning players. As with all good teaching, instructors should review what was taught in lesson 1 and mix review with new strokes. Always follow instruction with practice.

Safety Reminders

  • Ask the students “What are the safety procedures?” and then reinforce their importance.

  • Do not run backwards

  • Be careful running forward to get that low bouncing ball

  • Calling “ball on court”

  • Walking behind courts where play is ongoing

 

Etiquette Reminders

• Introduce yourself to your partner and opponents if you do not already know each other

• Always come up to the net and congregate each other on a good game

• Always treat everyone with dignity and fairness

Pickleball Strokes Review

Forehand

  • Ask them to show you the ready position? Stress to them the need to always be in the ready position except when serving.

  • Demonstrate the correct way to make a forehand shot.

  • Ready your paddle back into position to stroke the ball with your left hand keeping the paddle level.

  • Step toward the ball with your left foot and make contact with the ball opposite the spot that you planted your foot.

  • Point your left shoulder at your target.

  • Keep your left hand out in front of your body with your palm facing the ground at the same height as your paddle and this will help keep you balanced.

  • Watch the ball make contact on you paddle.

  • Keep a firm wrist and pretend you are hitting four balls lined up in a row during your follow through. Follow through in the direction of your target.

  • When hitting a low forehand shot bend your knees with your right knee as close to the ground as possible and then stay down all the way through the shot.

  • Quickly return to your ready position.

  • Spend five minutes having them practice the forehand by hitting back and forth across the net to a partner on the other side (two players on each side would work as well). Have them count the number of times they successfully get the ball across the net. Encourage them to hit to the other person’s forehand so they are learning placement as well as execution.

Backhand

  • Demonstrate the correct way to make a backhand shot using Mo’s approach

  • Run to a spot where the ball will be waist high or as close to waist high as possible in your ready position.

  • Set your feet in a closed stance position (side by side) pointing your right shoulder and looking over your right shoulder toward your target then step with your front foot toward your target.

  • Bend your knees on low balls and keep your head and body down all through the shot and follow through.

  • Paddle face should be perpendicular to ground.

  • Paddle head should start below the flight of the ball (low to high).

  • Contact point should be out in front of the spot you plant your front foot.

  • Keep a firm wrist at contact and you will be more consistent.

  • Watch the ball hit your paddle.

  • Make a long follow through in the direction of your target. Pretending that you are hitting four balls in a row will help.

  • Quickly after your follow through get back to your ready position for the next shot.

  • Spend five minutes having them practice the backhand by hitting back and forth across the net to a partner on the other side (two players on each side would work as well). Have them count the number of times they successfully get the ball across the net. Encourage them to hit to the other person’s backhand so they are learning placement as well as execution.

Dinks

  • Explain what a dink is (a soft shot which lands in the NVZ). Note that a shot which lands outside of the NVZ may be a soft shot but is not considered a dink by definition.

  • Demonstrate how to make a dink

  • Remember if your follow through does not extend to the top of the net; the ball is unlikely to go over the net.

  • Never step into the non volley zone with both feet. If a ball should bounce close to the net in the NVZ, keep one foot planted outside the NVZ line and lunge forward like a sword fighter. Tip the ball over the net into your opponents’ NVZ and quickly recover with both feet outside your NVZ line.

  • Using only one ball have the students practice dinks for five minutes, making sure that they hit to each of the players.

  • Make sure that they move out of the NVZ zone after making each dink and resume the ready position.

  • Have players practice the dink game at the non volley line. Remember, step in with one foot, and step back out.


Volleys

  • A volley is a quick punch of the ball at the non volley line. The stroke is quick and like a boxer’s punch. Sometimes referred to as a half volley because the stroke is shortened.

  • Demonstrate

  • Always be in the ready position when waiting for the ball. Coaches teach two possible positions of holding the paddle; out in front pointed at the net and perpendicular to the ground with the non paddle hand on the paddle the same as in forehand and backhand shots. A more recommended ready position is to hold the paddle on the backhand side parallel to the net and with the non paddle hand steadying the paddle face. Show how much more court space you can cover staying on your backhand and the paddle is already back for quicker reaction. At the non volley line reaction time must be split second and so having the paddle back saves time

  • Do not swing at your volleys; punch them!

  • When volleying, keep elbow in tight in front of your hip with paddle head above wrist for better ball control. Never drop the head of the paddle on low shots. You must keep skin wrinkles on your wrist at point of contact.

  • Bend your knees on all low shots. Your back knee should almost be touching the ground. Stay down all the way through your shot and keep your head down and eyes looking at the ball’s contact point long after ball has been hit.

  • When you strike the ball, you should point your front shoulder in the direction you want the ball to go and open or close the face of the paddle to set the angle of the paddle. Keep a firm wrist and extend your arm from only the elbow joint, using a jab motion. Setting the angle of the paddle and the jab motion are two completely separate motions. First aim the paddle early. Then jab from the elbow joint.

  • To help students teach students to use a “punch’ or “jab” stroke, the instructor may wish to line students up with their backs to a wall if indoors or to a fence if outdoors. As students practice the punch shot they cannot bring the arm back too far because of the wall or fence. This acts as a mental cue to remind them of a short punch stoke Always make contact with the ball as far out in front of your body as you possibly can for more power and more control of placement.

  • After the point of contact, keep your eyes focused on the contact point during your follow through.

  • Return to the ready position quickly after each volley.

  • The harder you hit your volley the faster you must return to the ready position.

  • If you don’t have time to step to the ball, at least turn your upper body and point your front shoulder in the direction you want the ball to go. If you don’t have time to turn your shoulders, then from the ready position keep a stationary wrist with paddle parallel to the net and block the fast shot over the net.

  • After each volley move forward one step toward the non volley zone. Stay about 12 inches from the no volley zone line so that you have space to step to the ball when volleying.

  • The basic difference between an overhead and a volley is the height at which the ball is when you make contact with it. If the ball is below the highest point at which you can reach it with the center of your paddle, you should use a volley shot. If it is above that point, you should hit an overhead shot. On too low a shot you will not be able to fully extend your arm and will probably put the ball in the net. 

  • Using one ball have beginners practice either hitting or throwing a ball to the other person across the net to either the forehand or backhand at the right height for a volley. The person hitting or throwing the ball should tell the person where they are going to hit or place the ball, forehand, backhand or at the player. Switch roles after every 5 throws.

  • An alternate way would have the instructor on one side of the net and the four students on the other side with the instructor hitting to each student in turn varying the height of the ball.

  • In this practice make sure that the students observe the NVZ rules and continue to instruct them on the proper way to make volleys

Lobs

  • Explain to the students what a lob is: A shot that sends the ball high overhead and deep, either catching the opponent off guard or forcing the opponent back to the baseline.

  • Demonstrate and explain how to make a lob.

  • Keep your head steady and your eyes on the ball.

  • The lob shot is made with an open face paddle in order to achieve the desired loft.

  • From the ready position turn toward the side where the ball will come.

  • Start your backswing as you move into position and shift your weight to your back foot.

  • Swing through the ball as you step into the shot.

  • Contact the ball in line with your front foot.

  • Continue to follow through quite high, with your paddle following the trajectory of the ball.

  • As your weight shifts to your forward foot, bring your back foot forward and move toward your next position.

  • The ideal lob is high enough to clear the opponent’s extended arm, paddle, and leaping ability. However, it is important when lobbing to remember that there is only 15 feet between the NVZ line and the baseline—a relatively small target area. (If you are playing outdoors, you must be constantly aware of the wind, what direction, how hard, constant or gusting. Build this into all your shots but be very aware of it if you are going to hit a lob.)

  • The lob shot looks the easiest to make but requires the most practice. Most players are not good lobbers. The lob shot is what the pros call a low percentage shot and therefore should be used only when necessary. It takes practice and perfect execution to get high and still land it in. However, it is very effective and can be executed easier indoors.

  • Have the students practice making lobs for five minutes, positioning all four at the baseline with you on the other side of the net and bounce or hit the ball to them in turn and have them lob over you at the net.

Overheads
  

  • Explain to the students what an overhead is: A rapid downward shot made with the paddle extended over the head at maximum height.

  • The difference between an overhead and a volley is the height at which the ball is when you make contact with it. If the ball is below the highest point at which you can reach it with the center of your paddle, you should use a volley shot.

  • Demonstrate and show the students how to hit an overhead (have one of the students hit some lobs to you)

  • Never hit an overhead shot unless the ball is high enough.

  • You should hit the ball at the highest point you can reach on the center of your paddle or you must take a volley shot.

  • When hitting an overhead shot, point your shoulder and your finger of your left hand up at the ball until just before you contact it.

  • Keep your head up until ball is long gone.

  • Hit the overhead shot at your opponents’ feet wherever they are standing. (Really emphasize to players that although some players at the competitive level like to smash the ball at their opponent this is not something that should be done on purpose. Good players will be able to return a hard shot at them so it is better to place it at their feet or to the open court. If you are playing a weaker player, they may not be able to react quickly enough and injury could result. Although the rules award a point for hitting an opposing player with the ball, this is not the correct strategy and just plain bad sportsmanship.)

  • Have the students practice making overheads for five minutes, with each one taking turns as you hit some lobs to them and instructing them as they practice 

Serve

  • Ask the students to tell you what the serve mechanics are and remind them if they do not remember.
  • Underhand below the waist

  • Paddle has to be vertical

  • Keep at least one foot on the ground

  • Both feet behind the baseline

  • Standing between the side line and center line

  • Have the students practice their serves for five minutes
  • Two students on each side of the net

  • Use two balls

  • Have them serve to each other catching the ball and serving back

  • Rotate them half way through the time so they get practice serving from both the left and right side

  • Walk around and observe each student providing help and suggestions where needed

Return of Serve

  • One of the most important shots in pickleball. Never try for a pure winner.

  • Do not make an unforced error. Keep the ball deep, slow and low to the opponent’s backhand.

  • Slow to give you plenty of time to set up at the no volley zone line. Once in a great while, when ahead, hit fast return of serve for a change up when you feel your opponents will least expect it.

  • Place the return down the middle, slightly closer to the back hand player. Both opponents may think the other will take the shot.

  • Wait for the serve 12" or more behind the baseline so that the ball will bounce in front of you, not at your feet for a difficult shot. If your opponent has a very fast and deep serve, you may have to wait about 3 feet behind baseline.


Return of Serve Drill

  • Have the students practice their return of serves for five minutes

  • All four students on one side of the net taking turns from the right and left hand box

  • Instructor on the other side of the net hitting serves to the students for them to return, making sure they hit both forehands and backhand returns


Positioning Drill

  • Place two students on each side of the net at the baseline. Instructor gives the ball to one student and says you serve. Then all of the other students should move into the correct positions. Ball is served, returned, everyone moving up to the net. Everyone returns to the baseline and the instructor randomly selects another student to serve and the process is repeated. Spend about five minutes on this drill or until everyone has the process down and quickly moves to their correct positions.


Playing a Game

Once these steps are completed then have them play a game trying to use each of the different strokes during the game. Keep them focused on practicing the strokes rather than winning the game. Continue to stop play and provide instruction and positive reinforcement. Remind them to watch their partners and call faults on each other.

If you see foot faults or serving faults during the games, immediately call it to their attention and explain what they did wrong. Remember to stop their play if you see that they are not watching their partner when serving, receiving serve, or volleying at the NVZ line. Also stop play if you see them not being in the ready position. Use a light hearted manner to help them to keep score. If you see them having difficulty in serving or using any kind of stroke, wait until the current point is over to discuss the appropriate techniques. Students are usually quite appreciative of your help, but this does vary. For those who don’t seem to want help, approach them and ask if you may make a suggestion.

Please keep in mind that these are beginners, not intermediates or advanced players. We need to treat them like beginners. However, it is our responsibility to show them the correct way to play and assist them in learning the correct way.