How to Get the Most out of Your Pickleball Students

How to Get the Most out of Your Pickleball Students

I have always been a believer that in order to be a great coach, you have to be a great student. In my years being in management, leading sections of non-profits and coaching sports, I have found that followers always value a leader that admits they don't have everything figured out. This applies to my (and your) pickleball students as well. Your students want to know that you are constantly learning as well. They will believe you can make them better when they see that you are adamant about bettering yourself first. 

Aside from my pickleball techniques and my own personal goals to increase my skill level, I'm always finding ways to better connect with my students and pull the most out of them that I can. Here are just a few things that I have leaned that have helped me to just that. Hopefully they can aid you in your endeavors of becoming a great coach as well.

Be in tune with your student's game -  It's impossible to know everything about every one of your student's games. But we need to make an effort to keep record of things they are working on, and how those things are progressing with time. Sometimes I get the opportunity to watch my students play in tournaments or rec play and I am able to take screenshots of things they are doing well or not doing well. When they come to me, I can have some suggestions for things to work on based off of what I see. Usually when I have a suggestion, my students agree to work on the things I suggest. This is important because it shows that you care more about your students game than what you see or work on in a lesson. They feel like you are in the trenches with them and they become loyal to you. This builds trust and a better relationship for maximum results. If you have students you don't get to see play often or at all, ask a lot of questions. Don't just start a lesson by asking them what they want to work on. Ask them what they feel they are doing well and where they are struggling and make suggestions from there. Also get a feel for how they like to decide what they want to work on. Some of my students already have something specific they want to work on before they even set up a lesson. (This is actually how I prefer to do it when I take lessons) While others appreciate suggestions because they simply don't know where to start. When you can initiate the lesson direction in this manner, it's much appreciated and allows your student to feel the connection you have with each other on a coach/student level. 

Create a system that isolates improvement areas - In my teaching I have found that my students improve greatly when they spend large amounts of time in one area vs spreading things around. Some students will come to you with 3 or 4 things they want to work on in a lesson. While I understand why they may want to do this, your students really won't improve that way if you oblige. When that happens, I always encourage sticking to one area at a time to maximize improvement. In my own training I have also seen similar results. I had to remember that getting better and reaching my goals was a slow grind and I needed to trust the process of focusing on one area at a time for max results. If you have students who see you every week, I would even encourage them to focus on one thing for several weeks until they see the progress they want. When those results are achieved you can move to the next area. The only exception I have to this is if you have a student who is practicing 4-5 days a week and has their foot on the pedal towards improving. When your students see that they are making progress by hyper-focusing on one area, they will see that your approach works and they will trust you to take their game to the next level in the other areas they need help with. 

Be willing to adjust on the fly - One of the hardest lessons I had to learn was that not everyone plays the way that I play and they certainly don't all learn the way that I like to learn. This also means that your students aren't going to learn the same way. You're going to need to be able to adjust based off of your students improvement during a lesson. This is one of those things that falls under the "art of coaching" category, but being able to see what's working and what's not is certainly obtainable. Sometimes my lessons are frustrating, for me and my students. I often have to pivot to another drill or mechanic, or I have to find something they can focus on where improvement is being made. Once you see some improvement and you see something click, run with that until you are able to add another element. Sometimes teaching is trail and error, and the more you teach, the more you will be able to do that from experience. Find what works for your student, and know that your next student may need a totally different approach! As you learn how each student learns, you begin building trust and chemistry with that student to help you adjust even smoother the next time!

There are many aspects of teaching that allow us to connect better with our students and really pull that diamond out of the rough. As a coach this should be the aspect that we are intentional about excelling at for ourselves and our students. If you can master adjusting, connecting, getting the very best out of your students, you can be a very successful coach that your students will rave about!

Please feel free to reach about to me to discuss your thoughts or ask any questions!

*If you are not in the Augusta, GA area and are interested in having me as YOUR coach, I offer a video analysis service that will allow me to work with you from anywhere in the world and help you improve your game! Please contact me to find out how we can get started!

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