IPTPA’s clarification on the pathway through the IPTPA System of certifications

Back in 2014/15 the idea of a teaching organization was first introduced to the top 20 players in the world. All players present unanimously agreed the time was right to organize a professional teaching organization. A discussion ensued on the merits and options of starting a certification program as soon as possible. One option would be to wait a year and develop a professional teaching curriculum made up of several levels of certification. In option two we would attempt to develop a certification program in a matter of months. This option would test a players’ knowledge of the rules and fundamentals of pickleball along with their ability to perform those strokes with the proper technique. Players agreed that option two would provide minimum teaching standards while distinguishing between tennis coaches who were simply teaching tennis with a paddle on a smaller court and true pickleball players/coaches.

In a mere five months, IPTPA created 3 testing protocols towards certification (a written exam of 50 questions, a skills test of 23 specific pickleball shots, and a one hour observed student lesson. This was the only certification offered at IPTPA. In the meantime, a committee was put together, and a curriculum was in the works. The committee looked at the basic fundamentals required in the sport of pickleball and then broke those skills down to their simplest components. With the aid of science, research and the most up-to-date teaching practices IPTPA developed a curriculum over an 8-month period of time which has been praised as the gold standard on how to teach pickleball.

With a curriculum documented in a 65-page handbook, the committee now studied the best way to present the information to our members. We considered all forms of delivery: internet based learning, virtual zoom calls, and in person classroom and or on-court sessions. The internet allowed access to more people worldwide, but was limiting in what we considered absolutely essential quality teaching: the interaction between coach/student under the observation and feedback of a Master Teaching Professional. After much deliberation, debating the economics and the quality programming which was our number one priority we settled on an 8-hour workshop called Teach the Teacher Workshop. This would be the entrée to the IPTPA System of Teaching. Candidates that successfully completed the workshop along with passing a written exam would be awarded Level I Certification. This program was introduced in January 2017.

The initial certification which had no designated level of certification became Level II. There are a number of players that received our original certification which was later named Level II. As discussed earlier, that was an expedited program that provided minimum coaching standards. There was no theory, lesson plan development, stroke break down or theory of how the game of pickleball should be taught. This took time to develop. There are a number of players that are Level II that would benefit greatly from taking Level I. I know it sounds backwards and in many respects it is but I’ve tried to explain the history here so that our members understand the decisions we made early in our company development.

We planned on making it a requirement to take Level I prior to taking Level II in January of 2020. Historically, we all know what took place at that time. Covid prohibited gathering in group activity thus few if any Level I certifications were possible. However, the game of pickleball exploded because families could get out and play on their driveway or in the streets. Parks began to slowly open up in 2021 and with masks you could maintain a socially acceptable distance. We got calls from around the world that facilities started to open up as a result of the pickleball explosion hiring began. Many facilities only accepted an IPTPA certification. I began getting calls from players saying they had a job opportunity and wanted to get certified but there were no workshops available. What options did they have? We decided to continue to allow players to get Level II so they could get hired but we encouraged them that once our workshop schedule picked up they would need to take the teach the teacher workshop.

This brings us to our present state and our new policy. We understand that the demand for IPTPA coaches is extremely high. Even though we’ve expanded the number of workshops worldwide we cannot keep up with demand. We’re expanding the number of MTP’s and the number of workshops we offer. Our programs are personnel intensive and are still in person only because we remain committed to the quality standards we set from the start. IPTPA will not sacrifice our quality standards to simply fulfill the demand. Therefore, the compromise we’ve come up with is the following. Those players that have the skill set to take and pass level II can do so. However, it is a provisional certification as they must take Level I within a year of their certification. This gives them ample opportunity to find a location convenient to attend. Let me emphasize, Level I teaches you the IPTPA methodology, our terminology our progressions of how we teach and it separates us from all others. It’s the reason the IPTPA curriculum has been praised by so many elite coaches from other sports. We hope this brief history gives you a clear understanding of how our different levels of certification came about and more importantly our policy moving forward.

IPTPA Level II Provisional Certification Policy

As of October 1, 2023, an instructor that completes IPTPA Level II Certification without having first attended an IPTPA Level I Teach the Teacher Workshop will have a provisional Level II Certification.  The instructor will have one year to attend an IPTPA Level I Teach the Teacher Workshop to finalize their certification.  After the one-year provisional period, if the instructor still has not attended an IPTPA Level I Teach the Teacher Workshop, IPTPA reserves the right to remove the instructor’s certification.