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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Instructor Certification

I have mentioned that I am in the process of becoming a certified instructor through the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA). The certification process includes 4 steps:
  1. Application
  2. Written Exam - An online test of rules, strategies, skills, and other information about pickleball in which at least 40 of 50 questions must be correctly answered in a 20-minute period.
  3. Skills Test - An on-court test of shot-making in which at least 8 shots of 10 attempts for each of 23 shots must be successful.
  4. Observed Teaching Lesson - Another on-court exercise where a one-hour lesson is given by the applicant and observed by the training director to ensure specific criteria are met.
I have accomplished the first three steps so far. I got 46 of 50 correct on the written exam and passed the skills test relatively easily. The closest I came to a problem was a backhand crosscourt drop shot from the baseline - probably the hardest shot in pickleball. I did get the minimum of 8 shots in the target area, though.

I was scheduled to have my observed teaching lesson last week with Marcus Luke but he unfortunately was unable to make it to High Point on my tournament day. I will schedule it as soon as possible.

I haven't completely figured out what I expect to do with the certification. I certainly will continue free beginner clinics to grow the game. I also will set up drills as part of the development mission at Crosswalk. But I can't ignore the fact that certification requires an investment and has a value. Someday I will figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

For today, though, the RV Picklers say it better than I can in a new article called Joining the IPTPA: Pickleball’s Teaching Organization.

Joining the IPTPA: Pickleball’s Teaching Organization

Denise recently completed the IPTPA’s certification process. We thought we would share with you why, and what is involved in being certified by pickleball’s teaching professionals organization.


Why does a 62-year-old woman, with no intentions of starting a new paid career as a pickleball instructor join the IPTPA? Well there are several reasons:
“As a PGA and LPGA member for over 20 years, I saw value and credibility in joining pickleball’s professional teaching organization. Though I have no intention of going on the road offering paid lessons, I wanted to be able to continue to contribute and grow the game. Frankly, being an ambassador through teaching is one of the things that attracted me about being sponsored by Onix as well.” — Denise Boutin
There is another benefit of membership…liability insurance. We live in a litigious society….sad, but true. Though it is hard to imagine someone who is not paying for a lesson, trying to sue the instructor, stuff happens. Having liability insurance is not only helpful but more and more being requested by pickleball clubs or venues that wish to host clinics.


The process to become certified is spelled out clearly on their website. First, you complete an on-line application, choose to be “tested” in person or via video, and send the $75 application fee. Next, you complete an online test, largely based on the rules of pickleball.
Assuming your application is accepted, and you pass the online test you move on to step three and four.

Denise chose to be tested at a “training center”.  She made arrangements to meet with Marcus Luke during our recent trip to North Carolina. She was first asked to perform certain pickleball skills. Having “passed” the skills test, she was then observed giving a 1-hour lesson to a player/student that Marcus provided.

Should You Consider It?

The same weekend Denise was being tested in North Carolina, a 4.0 player was certified as well. This speaks to the fact that, like in golf, you need to be good but not necessarily ready for the professional tour to teach pickleball effectively. The majority of the folks seeking pickleball instruction today are beginning and intermediate players.  This view is reinforced in many areas of the IPTPA website.

In all, it will cost about $150 to become certified. To remain in the organization costs $120 annually.  But for many this is an investment they are willing to make to help grow the game.
“So many people have contributed to pickleball over the years.  From the first manufactured paddles, to the first official rules, and tournaments.  A professional teaching organization is just one part of the maturation of this game we all love.” — Denise Boutin


  1. Hello. I have taken the exam several times with no luck. Does it seem fair that they only give you 20 minutes to take the exam and never let you go back to see what you missed. This is becoming quite expensive for someone who just wants to teach Pickleball to newbies. Is there another organization who has a better solution for certifying Pickleball Instructors?

    1. I am not aware of any other certification out there. The IPTPA was formed due to a void that allowed anyone to teach without standards. Frankly, I don't see that changing in the short term. I know of several coaches that aren't interested in being certified. They are good enough coaches with an established reputation to make it work. I looked at the IPTPA certification as a way to enter the field as well as adding credibility when working with local governments for court additions.

      Good luck with your efforts.