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How to Become a Pickleball Instructor

A pickleball professional playing on the court.

If you like pickleball and are fairly good at it, becoming an instructor will be easy after a series of exams and practical assessments. There are many organizations in the world that have a certification or instructor program for people that want to be a pickleball instructor.

Each organization will have its own rules and policies for the path to being an instructor, and some will have a certification process as well. Like any other field, there will be some time and financial investments here. Learn how to become a pickleball instructor here.

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The International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA0 calls itself a world leader in the field of pickleball instructing

Couple of pickleball paddle and a ball.

There are many pickleball organizations. In fact, there are thousands all over the world. But there are few that are dedicated solely to the purpose of pickleball instruction. The IPTPA is described as a “world leader in developing teaching standards” for pickleball. This is also an organization that provides certification for pickleball instructing and coaching as well.

The IPTPA is an organization that was formed in 2015 to meet the growing demand for pickleball instructors. Pickleball is a sport with millions of players worldwide, and is projected to be a sport with tens of millions of players in the United States in the next few years. Millions of those players compete, and those competitors need qualified and skilled instructors. The IPTPA founder wanted to see the game grow this way, and wants it to grow with qualified instructors.

In this organization, you have two levels of certification that you can work towards. These levels are skill-based, meaning the certification applies to the skill level of the players. In level one certification, you will be able to introduce the game to beginners. In level two, you can work with both beginner and intermediate players. For both levels, you will need to take a written exam, a skills exam, and also a practical mastery exam. There are certification workshops all throughout the United States where you can get your certification in pickleball instructing.

The Professional Pickleball Registry (PPR) is the official certification organization for the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA)

A professional pickleball player on the court.

The USAPA is a very large pickleball club in the United States, and offers a number of membership rewards and benefits. They partner with a group called the PPR, the Professional Pickleball Registry, as their official partner for certification programs for hopeful pickleball instructors. The curriculum at the PPR is currently being managed by a 2-time US Open Champ and a 5-time nationals champ Sarah Ansboury.

The PPR began in 2018 and is another organization that offers certification based on skill level. So you can get certified to teach beginners, or certified to teach pros. You need to be good at pickleball, pass a written exam, and pass a teaching session. A certification workshop lasts approximately eight hours. Many players in the United States will look for an instructor with this specific certification because of the popularity and credibility of the USAPA. Serious potential pickleball instructors will enjoy this program.

Pickleball Coaching International (PCI) was launched to help instructors have more freedom when it comes to coaching

A pickleball player smiling with her coach.

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When it comes to pickleball instruction and coaching, where you get your certification plays a big role in where you can coach and instruct. Some pickleball coaches and instructors will find that a challenge, and will want to work wherever they want. The organization known as Pickleball Coaching International (PCI) was launched to help coaches and instructors get a little more freedom with where they work and who they work with, while still becoming certified.

This pickleball instructor program also starts online, giving you a little more freedom when it comes to your instructor training. It also has multiple levels of certification, with Level 1 being completed online. Level 1 also requires on-court evaluations, but you can have those filmed, and then upload the videos to complete your certification. There is a written exam here, with the option to retake it with a nominal fee if you do not pass it the first time.

After you register for Level 1, the training materials and online instructions will be sent to you. Level 1 takes approximately 15 hours to complete from beginning to the end of all evaluations. It may be a more comprehensive course than some others and can be twice as long as some other pickleball instructor certification programs. You will need to show that you have mastered the concepts of the course materials, small group leadership, concise instructor techniques, and how to play the game. When you pass, your course fees will also cover one year of PCI membership, which will give you the opportunity to find instructor jobs and network with fellow pickleball clubs, pickleball instructors, and pickleball players.

You’ll need to get 26 of 31 questions correct on the multiple choice knowledge test that includes instructor questions, and the techniques and tactics of pickleball. The demonstration video you will upload will show how you can run a small group activity, and then a playing skill evaluation will assess if you can play the game. This will be followed with a teaching video that will demonstrate how you can teach pickleball.

The United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) offers a unique approach to becoming a pickleball instructor

Group of friends playing on an open court with an extra ball.

You can also get your pickleball instructor certification through the USPTA who has partnered with the International Federation of Pickleball Academy (IFP Academy) to provide internationally recognized pickleball instructor certification. You will have to first be a member of the USPTA who will get you access to one of the many UPTA pickleball testers who will connect you to the IFP Academy training center near you for your pickleball instructor training.

The IFP Academy is one of the most recognized centers in the world when it comes to certification for pickleball instructing, and it has members from 62 countries in the world. In this course, you have to not only be a member of the USPTA, but you need to also be a certified USPTA tennis instructor. The benefit here is that you will have dual certification in racket sports. The USPTA recognizes that the sport of pickleball is growing, and wants to be a global leader in ensuring that pickleball certification is universal and widely accepted through their recognized testers and division leaders.

In addition to being a recognized and certified pickleball instructor through this program, you will also have the membership backing of the USPTA, one of the most widely recognized racket organizations in the world. This provides additional opportunities to connect with jobs and people that can help you to further your instructor career, and also serve as friendships and social connections in your life as you pursue your pickleball career.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Becoming a Pickleball Instructor

Can I teach pickleball without being a certified instructor?

A pickleball instructor holding multiple balls.

Yes, you can teach pickleball without being a certified instructor. You don’t have to have formal training to want to teach pickleball, and you don’t have to have formal training to teach it well. If you are good at pickleball, you can start by training and coaching people in your own backyard on how to play and how to do it well.

You may not be a formal instructor here, but informally teaching people who are interested in learning is a good place to start to get hand on experience teaching the game of pickleball. However, if you want formal employment or you want to instruct or coach very skilled players, you’ll want to become certified or take a course that gets you recognized. Choose the place you want to work and learn what the requirements are, and it will be easy to find a place to learn how to become a pickleball instructor if you want to take your informal instruction to a different level.

What if I fail, can I retake any of the pickleball instructor exams?

It really depends on what organization you are working with, but generally you can retake pickleball instructor exams. If the exams really worry you, find an organization that has a lot of flexibility with the certification and exam process. Start with an organization that has a retake option when it comes to the exams.

Many organizations will allow for retakes for an additional fee, but the option still is there. Pickleball instructor exams can be very stressful. There are a lot of YouTube videos out there that can help you with pickleball theory and terms that you will need to know for the exam. Look at some of them after your first attempt at the exam, as you will have a better idea of what to expect for the exam. This is an easy way of brushing up on things.

Do I have to renew my instructor certification annually or anything like that?

Again, this depends on the organization you get your certification to be a pickleball instructor with. Some organizations will ask that you update your credentials with a few courses a year to ensure that your certification and skills are up to date with what is trending in pickleball and pickleball instructions. Very few organizations will require your entire certification to be renewed annually.