Is a Women’s Pickleball Camp Right for You?
Have you thought about attending a pickleball camp just for Women?
Maybe you’re new to the game and know that it’s better to learn pickleball correctly from the beginning rather than unlearn bad habits. Perhaps you’re thirsty to improve and already know you will not get the knowledge you need at your local courts. Maybe you just want to get away and have some fun! Is a women’s pickleball camp right for you?
Before we talk about a women’s camp, let’s discuss some considerations for choosing the best camp experience for you. Here are a few things to consider.
But before we jump into this, full disclosure. Tony and I offer WeArePickleball camps, and frankly, I’m biased. We’ve taken a hard look at what’s available and designed a camp that’s completely different. But that’s not the reason I’m writing this.
I published a video on how to choose a camp more than three years before we started offering camps because I wanted you to ask the right questions, so you get the best learning experience for your money.
Tony and I have always been obsessed with your pickleball improvement, and some people don’t know how to choose a camp that’s right for them. We’d rather you ask the right questions and choose a different camp or not attend one at all, if that’s what’s best for your game.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s get into it.
The number one question to ask yourself when choosing a pickleball camp is WHY are you taking a camp?
I’m going to assume that one of the reasons you’re taking a camp is to improve. But is that the only factor or even a primary reason?
Do you want to find more people in your area who play? Perhaps you’re prepping for a tournament? Maybe you want an exciting pickleball vacation with a variety of fun activities? Or are you looking for a pickleball-focused girls’ getaway?
Take a few minutes and write down all the reasons you want to take a pickleball camp and put them in order.
Destination camps are attention grabbers. But if one of your main reasons is finding people in your area to play pickleball, that’s not a good fit.
Understanding your “why” will help narrow down your choices and get you the experience you desire.
(For those of you who are yearning to travel, we understand what that feels like, and we’re planning our first European destination camps for September 2022.)
Another consideration when choosing a camp is the physical demands of the camp. How many hours per day and how many days?
Longer may sound better, but what if you’re on a court drilling six hours a day for three days? Are you going to be able to learn, or will you be dead tired and unable to focus?
Learning isn’t just physically tiring. It’s mentally taxing too. Think of how many times you’ve come home exhausted after learning something new, even if you didn’t move a muscle for hours.
Most players are much better off with 2 or 3-day sessions totaling 12-15 hours of instruction with multiple breaks and time for meals.
What about the location? Have you considered what the climate will be like at the time you plan to attend?
Arizona and Florida sound great in the winter or spring, especially if you live in a Northern climate. But if you’ve ever visited Florida in late April, you know firsthand how hot and muggy it can be. Taking a camp in Arizona in January is much different than taking one later in the spring.
What about levels and group sizes?
Without a doubt, the number one question we get asked is about levels. “Am good enough” or “Am I too good” for a camp.
First, let it be said that most of us are poor judges of our own skill level and tend to underestimate or overestimate our current abilities.
For most camps, as long as you can hit a pickleball over the net, you’re good enough. Conversely, if you are a tournament-tested 4.5 or above, you may want to attend a camp targeted to that level. But if the camp size is small enough and the instructor is versatile, they should be able to work with various skill levels.
This brings us to group size. We recommend a ratio of 8:1 student to instructor. More students than that can challenge the skills of even the best instructors.
What’s the curriculum? Will you learn more than mechanics and do more than drill at the pickleball camp?
Instinctively drilling sounds appealing. We all know we need to practice to improve our mechanics, and many people don’t have a place or partner to drill with consistently. But a camp that’s focused primarily on mechanics is missing other pieces of the puzzle.
That’s one of the reasons that Tony and I invested so much time into creating the Succes Path and the Three Pillars of Learning: Mechanical, Strategic, and Athletic. I’m not going to go into depth here, but in essence, it’s the how-to hit a shot, when and why to hit a particular shot, and the mental and physical ability to execute the shots and play the game.
We see most pickleball instruction focused on the Mechanical Pillar or the how-to hit the shot. Yes, you need to execute the technique with some proficiency, but it’s not just about technique. You can have the best third-shot drop in the world, but if you use it when the returner stays at the baseline, you’re not taking advantage of an opportunity the opposition has given you. (strategy)
Those are some of the basics, and hopefully, you’re getting a general feeling of what to look for when considering a camp. Unfortunately, most players get these questions answered, and that’s it. They make their decision.
But they’ve forgotten to ask the number one question they deserved to have answered. Who are the pickleball pros, and what’s their teaching experience?
Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country, and with unprecedented growth comes an influx of instructors. While I think that the number of new voices on the courts is exciting, frankly, not all of the instruction is good.
One of my friends has a son who’s a tennis pro. His club “strongly suggested” he get certified to teach pickleball. The problem is he’s passionate about playing and teaching tennis. He never plays pickleball and resents teaching pickleball lessons because it keeps him from teaching tennis. Yet, he’s a certified pickleball instructor, giving lessons at his club and asked to fill in at various camps.
What makes a good pickleball coach?
It’s important to realize that teaching and playing are two different skills.
Just because someone is an accomplished player doesn’t mean they can teach. And good teachers, while they need to have a certain level of proficiency, don’t have to be high-level players. The skill sets are entirely different.
Good teachers recognize how students learn and tailor the information to their learning style to improve the fastest.
On the other hand, people who are only good players tend to teach in a manner identical to their physical prowess and learning style. So it works great if you are similar to them but is disappointing if you’re not.
For example, suppose a 30 something who spends most of their time playing is not an accomplished teacher and tries to teach a 60 something novice player with limited athletic experience their personal footwork patterns. In that case, the result may not just be less than optimal performance. Instead, it could cause an injury.
Speaking of skills, a good teacher needs to enhance your learning experience…
Tailoring a session to a student and lesson planning are learned skills. It’s one thing to offer someone an hour lesson. It’s an entirely different animal to organize instruction over a two-three-day period.
I’m guessing that a few of you were teachers of some sort in your past life. If not, you’ve been a student at some point. Imagine the confusion you’d have if you walked into your first math class and the teacher went straight to multiplication. That teacher failed to plan the groundwork necessary to become proficient at multiplication.
Another skill great coaches possess is versatility.
They understand how a person learns and can quickly identify their physical capabilities. Then they can adapt their teaching style using their “bag of tricks” to help that student learn and perform the best. It would be a total disconnect if you taught a beginner the identical concept in the same way you taught a more advanced player. You may laugh, but I’ve had people tell me how it happened to them.
That’s not to say that good players aren’t good teachers. Some great players are great teachers. But if you want to improve the fastest, make sure you know who’s teaching you and what’s their background.
Another question as gals tend to ask ourselves is: Should I spend this kind of money on a camp? After all, it’s just pickleball.
Let’s face it, not everyone wants to get better at the game, and that’s ok. However, they aren’t the kind of people that will read a blog about pickleball camps.
But you’re still reading, aren’t you?
Chances are you’ve been trying to improve, have watched videos, and read countless articles, but you haven’t progressed the way you wanted to.
This is your opportunity to nix the self-doubt and take your pickleball learning curve into your own hands.
I love what one of our previous camp attendees had to say about doing something for herself. “For me, it was a monetary moment because I don’t do that much for myself. So I just had to put that to the side and be a little selfish and come(to camp). I think this whole COVID thing has us so mixed up on what to do. When we finally get a little bit of time and a little bit of freedom, it’s time to take it.”
If you’re seeking permission to invest in your pickleball game, give it to yourself.
That brings us to the final consideration, should you attend a women-only camp?
Pickleball isn’t the first sport where I’ve taught women’s only events, I’ve done it in skiing and golf, and I LOVE teaching women’s only camps. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy teaching men too, but there’s a different dynamic when it’s just the girls.
There’s generally a lot more talking, definitely a lot more giggling. It’s usually more supportive. Invariably someone will ask about clothing or equipment, and women are free to discuss without feeling inhibited.
There are a lot of women who’ve never played a sport before taking up pickleball. That in itself can be intimidating. That’s one of the reason’s why Tony and I focus on empowering players at all of our camps. We want them to not just own their learning experience at the camp. We want them to take control of it on their home court.
We want them to feel confident enough to disregard the unsolicited advice they get at the local courts. To learn to say No Thank You to someone who steals their pickleball joy. When they leave a WeArePickleball camp, we want them to feel like the pickleball athlete they are.
Is a women’s camp right for you? Like all things pickleball, the answer is it depends. What do you want from a camp, and what learning environment is most likely to produce it?
Is a women’s pickleball camp right for you? I’m going to circle back to where I started, write down the reasons you want to attend a camp, consider the environment, curriculum, and the coaches. Then consider what type of learning environment would be most conducive for your goals.
Camps are the perfect way to learn it correctly, expand your knowledge and reach some of your pickleball goals. Doing a little bit of homework before you attend a camp and asking the right questions will help you find the best pickleball camp for you!
P.S. If you want more information on what I think is the best pickleball camp available today, click here or go to www.WeArePickleball.com/camps. If you’d like to hear more about the camp experience through the eyes of a past student, click this link.
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