Beginner: A beginner is classified as a player who is new to the game, learning scoring and rules or has only played a handful of times. Typically, players are unfamiliar with basic mechanics related to paddle grip, ball striking, or shot preparation and are unaware of foundational rules such as court boundaries, kitchen restrictions, or scoring.
Beginner clinics are designed to build a strong basis for skill development and to invite players to start playing actual games quickly. Techniques and concepts taught include: court safety and awareness, gripping the paddle, basic ball striking, preliminary footwork and scoring.
Advanced beginners have spent a small amount of time on the court and are familiar with basic concepts of game play, but skills are underdeveloped.
Advanced Beginner 2.5 Players can sustain longer rallies (4 or more shots each point) Can make easier volleys and use backhand more often but need work on stroke development. Start coming to the Non Volley Zone and become more aggressive in their play. Begins to use dinks and lobs but do not fully understand when and where they should be used. Serves become more consistent and working on making it accurate. Knowledge of the rules improves. Court coverage may be weak but improves consistently.
Advanced Beginner clinics are designed to continue building rudimentary skills. Techniques and concepts taught include: dinking fundamentals, serve and return concepts, and basic transition. At this level, 2.5 players understand the basic rules such as “two bounce”, scoring, and positioning based on the score and function (serving or receiving). Mechanically, players can hit several dinks in a row, can serve and return accurately more than 50% of the time, can occasionally punch volley and “drop” 3rd shots into the kitchen. The game is primarily focused on ground strokes and mid court volleys. Techniques and concepts taught include: “Kitchen” restrictions, continued shot mechanics, team movement, and simple transition. Players at 3.0 understand all the basic rules, scoring, and positioning. At this point, the focus is on consistency and shot selection.
Players should recognize the importance of dinking with “purpose”. Quickness and agility are improving and becoming more important in continuing point rallies. Players should be able to drop 50% of the time from the transition area and 30% - 40% of the time from the baseline, while suitably hitting better than 80% of serves and returns. Concepts like “Serve & Stay” and “Return & Run” should be part of routine game play. Techniques and concepts taught include: court coverage, footwork, “traffic light” shot selection, 3 rd shot drops, improved serve/return, lobs, overheads, and team strategies.
3.5 players understand all the basic rules, scoring, and positioning. Concepts like identifying correct server and receiver are second nature. Dinking and groundstrokes should consistently exceed 70% in terms of accuracy from either the forehand or backhand positions. 3rd shot drops should be attempted at least 50% of the time. Movement forward, up the court, is consistent with the quality of the shot. Serves and returns are dependably deep, and players are developing both offensive and defensive lobs. Hand speed, quickness and mobility are all well developed. Team strategies, like “stacking” are occasionally utilized in game play. Techniques and concepts taught include: sustaining dink rallies using purposeful shot selection, 3rd shot mastery (drive or drop) and transition execution, team strategies, focus on control, playing at multiple speeds (accelerating or taking pace off the ball), and advanced shots (roll overs and drive absorption).
4.0 players are expected to have full command of the rules and to have mastered most shot techniques. Focus is on full point construction using sound decision making in attempting various shots through serve, return, 3rd and 4th shot strategies, dinking, attacking, resetting, lobbing, and hitting overheads. Players demonstrate a high pickleball IQ and are physically capable of covering court space quickly in efforts to accurately control shots.
Team strategies are stressed and advanced shots (ATPs, Ernes, etc.) are implemented. Techniques and concepts taught include: intense drilling, transition under fire, offensive mindedness with regard to drops and dinks, controlling the point, and using set up techniques to create opportunities.
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