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How to Introduce Your Kids to Pickleball

How to Introduce Your Kids to Pickleball

  • That's right, a super cool 21.2% of pickleball players in 2021 were between 6 and 17 years old (according to a big pickleball report). Want to join the fun and become part of this awesome movement with your family? We've got some slam-dunk tips to help you learn the game and become a pickleball whiz!

Picture this. It’s a Sunday afternoon, and the sun is shining. After a weekend indoors, your kids are feeling a little restless. You gather your family’s pickleball paddles and corral them into the car. You spend the next several hours playing pickleball as a family. 

“That was so fun,” your kids say as you head home that evening. You agree and mentally schedule your next family pickleball day. 

This scenario is possible – and it’s happening to more and more families every day. Adults love pickleball because it promotes a healthy lifestyle and helps create strong social connections. It’s also a heck of a lot of fun! 

Young people are also getting the pickleball bug. In 2021, kids between the ages of 6-17 comprised 21.2% of pickleball players, according to the 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry Association Single Sport Report on Pickleball.

If you want your kids to join this growing group – and introduce them to a hobby you can enjoy as a family – now’s the time! These tips will help you introduce pickleball to your kids so they grow to love the game as much as you! 

“Parents want to see their kids moving. Pickleball is a fun way to get kids off the screen and onto the court and with pickleball they are doing something fun that challenges them mentally.”  Tim Laurent- Founder My Pickleball Coach 

Make It Fun

Yes, it’s fun to compete in tournaments and win pickleball matches. But that shouldn’t be the priority when introducing the sport to kids – instead, it’s a happy byproduct of building a healthy relationship with the sport!

That’s why making it fun tops our list of tips for introducing kids to pickleball. Don’t worry about teaching them to keep score or throwing them into a match right away. Instead, pick out a beginner paddle in a fun color and ask them to accompany you to the courts. 

Teach them how to hold the paddle and show them where to stand. Then, rally! Run, dink, and giggle your way through a half hour or so of rallying. Finish the day with a few practice serves, then wrap up your day. Your kids (and you!) will have so much fun that you’ll be penciling in your next pickleball outing before you even get off the court. 

Show, Don’t Just Tell

Eventually, your kids will want to start playing points and learning the basic rules of pickleball. When this happens, don’t just use your words. Show them how to complete a legal serve, move in and out of the kitchen, and keep score. 

The best way to do this is by scheduling a pickleball afternoon with another friend with kids or making your next outing a family affair by bringing your spouse and other little ones along. Play a game of doubles that pairs each adult with one of the kids so they can see you in action.

 Leave plenty of time to pause points or matches so you can explain something about the rules, make corrections, or just celebrate their progress!

Set Reachable Goals

Once your child has learned the basic rules of pickleball, it’s time to start setting some reachable goals to build their fundamental skills. 

Some examples include:

  • Hitting ten consecutive serves in bounds from each side of the court
  • Dinking the ball back and forth over the net eight times with your partner
  • Moving into the kitchen to hit the ball, then moving back out of the kitchen five consecutive times

These goals can vary based on your child’s natural skill level, but they all have one thing in common: your child will need to repeat one shot or movement consecutively. This approach helps them build muscle memory for standard pickleball shots, habits, and actions.

As your child improves, increase the number of repetitions or add more movement. Start small. If they struggle to complete a drill, that’s OK! Scale back the number of repetitions or try something new. 

Slow and steady progress is the goal. Offer plenty of encouragement, and be patient! They’ll be tearing up the court in no time at all!

Take It Slow

Speaking of patience, you’ll probably need it by the bucketful as you introduce pickleball to kids. 

For younger children, it might take some time to develop the hand-eye coordination needed to actually hit the ball. 

Older children, especially those with some athletic experience, might make contact with the ball but need some time to learn how to properly keep score or learn the rules. Take it slow! 

For most children, playing a few times a month with their parents is a great way to learn the sport without feeling overwhelmed. When they’re ready to play matches, find some opponents that are similar in age and skill level so they can get a taste of the competition and make some friends!

Hopefully, your child ends up with the same passion for pickleball as you. When that happens, find a good instructor to help them continue to improve and encourage them to enter some beginner-level tournaments. Win or lose, let them know you’ll be there to cheer them on! 

“Working with children and the excitement and joy that they demonstrate in developing the skills necessary for the sport of pickleball is inspiring . The smiles and laughter is contagious and real. Having the opportunity to teach and be a part of that learning  is one of the most rewarding experiences I could have as a professional instructor.”Dr. Rommie Maxey 6 Time National Pickleball Champion

It’s Time to Grab the Kids and Hit the Court!

Ready to turn pickleball into a family affair? Schedule some time to hit the pickleball courts with the kids. Use these tips to help spark their interest in the sport and teach them an activity your family can enjoy for years to come. 

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