As you’re beginning your pickleball journey, you’ve likely already realized there is so much to learn – where to play, skill ratings, tournaments, rules, etiquette, shot techniques, strategy and so much more. It can be overwhelming for the pickleball newbie just embarking on their pickleball journey. To get you jump-started, we have compiled a list of the top five people to get to know.
1. Your Local Pickleball Instructor
Each club likely has a pickleball instructor(s) that is on-site from time-to-time giving lessons to pickleball-hungry players who want to improve their game. Get to know that instructor. Take a lesson or two so that you have a solid foundation – from both a technical and strategic perspective. It’s much easier to correct “mistakes” early on than to try to correct them later.
Your local instructor will be able to give you a pretty good idea of your pickleball skill rating after a lesson or two. He/she will also be able to give you the low-down of similarly skilled, local players with whom you can network. To make sure your instructor is credible, it’s a good idea to confirm their credentials. For example, here is a listing of IPTPA-certified instructors: https://iptpa.com/certified-members/
2. Your Local USA Pickleball Ambassador
According to USA Pickleball, ambassadors are “volunteer representatives and unofficial spokespersons for USA Pickleball in the geographical area they represent and/or at large. Their primary responsibility is to promote and grow the sport of pickleball.”
Your local ambassador will be able to advise you on where people play in your local area. They will also be able to help you if you are interested in playing local tournaments. Finally, ambassadors will likely have a large network of pickleball players – and, as a result, will be able to get you plugged in where it makes the most sense.
3. Your Local Ladder League Organizer / Captain
Many pickleball clubs organize and facilitate ladder leagues. Ladder leagues are generally organized leagues in which players with relatively similar skills compete against each other in a competitive, structured, and, typically, weekly format. The organizer/captain of the ladder leagues will help you get plugged into a league that will be fun and challenging – and at your skill level.
4. Your Local Pickleball Club Board Members
Your local pickleball club board members are volunteers who generally have the best interest of the club in mind. As they are volunteers, their passion for pickleball is frequently evident and contagious. They will be in the know about all things that relate to your pickleball club – including tournaments, leagues, socials, and more.
5. One or More of the 4.0+ Players at your Local Club
If you are looking to advance in skill level, getting to know one or more 4.0+ level players is a great idea. In our local club, we have mentor/mentee opportunities. A 3.0 or lower player is paired with a 3.5+ player. That higher-level player will offer tips, suggestions and help bring along that eager beaver on their pickleball journey.
These are just some of the people to get to know to jump-start your pickleball journey. Now, just as in life, not everyone will be eager to spend time and help you. However, most will try to help as much as possible. The five I listed above are a great place to start.
See you on the courts!
Todd is the talent behind PickleballMAX. He knows pickleball and demonstrates it on the court as a 4.5 – 5.0 player. In addition to creating content and running the PickleballMAX business, Todd is IPTPA Level II certified. As an instructor at the Ohio Pickleball Academy, he instructs students and runs adult and youth clinics. He also manages tournament desks throughout the tri state for tournaments ranging from 100-500 participants.