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Paddle and Ball Handling

This is an excerpt from Pickleball First Steps epub by Pictona Club & The.

National Standards 1, 4

You may not have been able to complete all the activities in lesson 1. Lesson 2 gives you another opportunity to have your students get comfortable with their paddle and ball. Consider your students’ skill level to determine whether you should practice more with the activities in lesson 1 or use the practice activities from this lesson.

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop forehand and backhand control of the paddle in hitting the ball
  • Understand how speed and direction of the ball is determined when hitting the ball
  • Provide encouragement to fellow students
  • Have fun learning


  • One paddle and pickleball per student
  • One poly spot per student (scattered in the teaching area to provide enough personal space for each student)
  • Three small beach balls
  • Mastery boards, whiteboards, and markers (placed throughout the playing area)


Rulers Versus Knights

Rulers Versus Knights diagramIn the magical kingdom of Pickleball Land, the Rulers are not very good at pickleball, but they want to be. The Knights of the kingdom are excellent pickleball players, but they only play among themselves. The Rulers want to convince the Knights to play with them to help them improve. To do so, the Rulers bring out their magical Convincing Balls (beach balls).

The game begins by picking three Rulers, each of whom has a Convincing Ball. They spread out from one another in the playing area. (Use half of a basketball court for 1 to 20 students and full court for 21 to 50 students).

The three Rulers spread out from one another and must remain stationary.

The remaining students, the Knights, scatter throughout the playing area.

The Rulers try to hit the Knights by tossing their Convincing Ball at them. The Knights try to dodge the ball.

When a ball hits a Knight, they must immediately go down on one knee, where they remain throughout the game. They are now on the Rulers’ team and are allowed to toss the ball (from their kneeling position) at the remaining Knights.

After they have thrown their Convincing Ball, a Ruler may retrieve the ball but must return to their original position before they throw again.

Play the game until only one or two Knights are left. Repeat if time allows.

Remind the students: “No screaming.”

students playing Rulers Versus Knights

Lesson Plan

Step 1: Forehand Control

Instruction and Demonstration

  • Explain that the object is to tap the ball upward with the paddle.
  • Explain how the paddle position controls the direction of the ball.
  • Demonstrate the various actions in controlling the ball with the forehand.

Key Teaching Points

  • Keep proper grip tension on the paddle.
  • Keep the wrist and forehand firm and elbow relaxed.
  • Use a slight upward pendulum motion initiated from the shoulder.
  • Keep the paddle level and parallel to the ground.
  • Watch the ball.
  • The position of the paddle face determines the direction the ball travels.

Practice Activities

Ball Taps

  • Holding the paddle at waist level, students tap the ball up and off the paddle once; they catch the ball with the opposite hand.
  • Have students tap the ball up and off the paddle three times and catch it with the opposite hand.
  • Have students tap the ball up continuously, with the ball going “eye high.”
  • Next, have students try to slowly travel while tapping the ball up and off the paddle.
  • Challenge the students to vary the height of the ball between taps.

ball taps

One-Minute Ball Tap

  • Students challenge themselves to see how many times they can tap the ball in the air with their forehand in a minute.
  • If the ball drops to the ground, they pick it up and keep counting from where they left off.
  • Repeat to let the students see whether they improve in a second round.
More Excerpts From Pickleball First Steps epub



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