Picking the Pickleball Camp That’s Right for You
By: Tony Roig | August 8, 2023 |

Finding Your Fit: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect Pickleball Camp

“Will going to pickleball camp improve my game?” Most likely, but the degree to which you will advance depends on a number of factors, largely focused on the type of Pickleball Camp you choose. It’s not a case of ‘one-size fits all’!

Numerous variables influence the outcome, such as the camp’s coaching quality, compatibility with your learning style, and how you apply the lessons learned before, during, and after your pickleball camp experience.

Ultimately, the best way to determine which pickleball camp can best improve your game is by carefully assessing each camp, understanding your personal objectives, and ensuring that your chosen camp aligns with those.

Most likely, there’s a pickleball camp in your future! This article is here to guide you through some critical questions and key considerations to help you find the pickleball camp perfect for your needs.

Full Disclosure: We can’t hide our enthusiasm for the Better Pickleball IMMERSION Camps we host throughout the year – we genuinely believe they’re the best out there! However, we understand that attending a camp involves your valuable time and hard-earned money. Our goal is to assist you in finding the ultimate camp for your learning adventure, even if it doesn’t happen to be one we organize.

The first question to ask yourself: What results are possible for me if I attend a pickleball camp?

Sure, the desire to improve your game is a given in a decision to attend a pickleball Camp, but camps can vary widely on how they go about fulfilling this expectation. And depending upon your individual needs, some camps might fall short.

Setting Expectations: What are you looking for in a pickleball camp?

Digging a bit deeper into your goals for attending a camp can be beneficial. We already know you want pickleball improvement – but what sort of improvement? Are you looking for a short-term “high” where you leave camp, hitting a couple of cool shots which fade over time? Or do you want to leave the camp with a deeper understanding of pickleball and the tools to continue improving long-term?

Both paths drastically differ. One gives the pleasure of a short-term thrill but often fails to hold effect beyond a few weeks. The other approach is more of a slow burn. You leave camp with a few things to implement right away, but they are parts of a bigger picture, a picture that keeps becoming clearer and clearer the more time passes. Give some thought to which path you wish to take.

At a Better Pickleball IMMERSION camp, we focus on the second approach, you leave the camp with a deeper understanding of pickleball and the tools to continue improving long-term. But here’s a little secret. With this deeper understanding also comes the extra benefit of knowing the right shots to hit in a given situation.

Tailored Pickleball Training: Meeting You Where You Are On Your Journey

Every pickleball player, including you, is at a unique point in their learning journey. Whatever place you are currently at, you want to learn the pickleball lessons that are right for you. Not what may be right for another player – the lessons suitable for you.

We’ve heard various accounts from students about their past experiences at different camps or clinics. Some students had been taught shots that were unsuitable for their level of play (what a time waster). Other students reported just running around for 2 or 3 days, hitting a lot of balls but with no rhyme or reason and definitely no learning.

These players did not receive the pickleball training that they were looking for from their previous camp experiences. Spend some time making sure that the camp you are considering will meet your needs wherever you currently are on your pickleball path.

At Better Pickleball IMMERSION camps, we are not a “ball feeding” production line. Sure, we cover the shots you need to learn, but we do so within a more holistic approach built around the framework of pickleball, the strategies you can use to master individual game situations you encounter, and picking the right shots to employ.

Over our two days together, we cover all Three Pillars of Pickleball™: the Mechanical (footwork, positioning, & shots), Strategic (what to do when), and Athletic (tools for mind and body). Second, we provide you tools so that you can fix mechanical errors in your game – months (even years) after our camp. Third, you get clear objectives to apply when you are playing. You’ll leave camp as a transformed player.

Understanding the Instruction-What is the curriculum taught at the pickleball camp?

Pickleball is at the core of any pickleball camp – that’s a given. The question you want to answer is: what specific aspects will the pickleball training cover?

Is the camp primarily a shot-hitting camp where you move from station to station and get fed a bunch of balls? Is strategy covered? If so, how extensively? Will you walk away from the camp with a deeper understanding of pickleball? Does the camp cover strategies to help you cope with the stress you face every time you hit the court? Will you have tools to use to improve your game after the camp is over?

Here is a reality check about ball-feeding pickleball clinics and camps: they’re great for practicing shots, but the initial advantage can wane fast. A few weeks post-camp, you may find yourself back at square one, with barely an improvement in skills and, even worse, without any tools to further progress.

The same can be said of a camp that strictly covers strategy.

How will understanding strategy help you if you are unable to correctly execute the technique to perform the shot consistently?

Before zeroing in on a camp, ask about the camp curriculum. Ensure it aligns with your expectations of what you want to learn at the camp. If your No. 1 objective is pickleball improvement, look for a camp that will give you the knowledge and tools you need to achieve your improvement both during and after the camp.

At Better Pickleball’s IMMERSION camps, the focus is on individual improvement and the many benefits that can be gained with people of different skill levels attending the same Camp. This is quite different from other camps in which the goal is to separate players into ‘skill-level’ camps…Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced.

Here’s why our approach is more impactful. Our IMMERSION camps are personalized to your needs as an individual player, providing instruction based on fundamental pickleball principles that apply to every player regardless of skill level.

The advantage of learning in a camp with players of varied skill levels is that you’ll learn to improve your own game while practicing with not only players at a similar skill level but also other players who are more advanced and some less advanced.

This ensures that you learn to focus on what’s most important in improving your own game…and not adapting each game to your court partner and opponents just to win. You’ll be better prepared to re-engage in your local area rec. play and participate in higher-level League and Tournament play, if desired.

Identifying Your Instructors: Who will be teaching me?

As important as it is to learn what will be taught at the camp, it’s equally significant to scrutinize who will be imparting those teachings.

Some players attend a clinic because they want the opportunity to share the court with a famed player. There’s nothing wrong with wanting this experience. Just do not confuse being on the court with a superstar player with accomplishing your objective of pickleball improvement.

To be clear, we’re not suggesting that superstars can’t excel as teachers – indeed, some do. Our point is that impressive playing prowess doesn’t inherently make one an effective teaching professional.

Assessing Your Instructors: Certification and Beyond

It’s essential to know whether your instructors possess the necessary knowledge and skills to help you improve. Instructor certification is one way to determine that an instructor is qualified to help.

Certification is not, however, the only way to vet an instructor’s qualifications – you can rely on your first-hand knowledge or the experience of players you know as well.

Remember, not all good players are great instructors, and not all great instructors are top-notch players. Pickleball coaching is an acquired skill, and it’s a different skill from playing.

Yes, a coach must have some type of playing proficiency, but you’re attending a camp to improve your pickleball knowledge. You need a pickleball coach who has the ability to impart that knowledge to you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and take your time making sure it’s the right fit for you.

Deeper considerations include contemplating if the instructor can comprehend your unique physical and skill limitations.

For example, a young 25-year-old coach might struggle to empathize with the conditioning and abilities of a 60-year-old player. In many situations, a pickleball coach with more diverse life experience may be more insightful in addressing your needs.

Before sealing the deal with any camp, ask them who the instructors at the camp will be – all of them. Do you know the instructors who will be coaching you at the camp? Do you know their teaching qualifications, style, or experience?

At a Better Pickleball IMMERSION camp, our sessions are taught by CJ Johnson and Tony Roig. You’ve seen them on Youtube or heard them on podcasts. You may have studied with them in The Pickleball System course. This guarantees that when you come to a Better Pickleball camp, you know who your instructors will be.

CJ started the Better Pickleball YouTube channel in 2016. In addition to her pickleball expertise, she has many years of experience in helping enhance the performance of athletes across multiple sports. She is a PGA Golf Pro, PSIA certified Ski Instructor (Professional Ski Instructors of America), and an ISSA certified Personal Trainer (International Sports Sciences Association). This diverse background allows her to provide comprehensive guidance to help pickleball players achieve their best performance on and off the court.

Tony, a Senior Pro Player, has earned the highest pickleball coaching certification available as a Master Teaching Professional from the IPTPA (International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association). Also, he is a master strategist and impactful pickleball content creator, producing videos for the In2Pickle YouTube channel, hosting the one-of-a-kind Pickleball Therapy podcast, and even writing a book, “Play Pickleball.”

Are There Resources to Help You Prepare for Camp?

Making certain that you are prepared to attend the camp can help you make the most out of the camp.

Being familiar with the camp’s curriculum and knowing what will be taught can help you prepare. Surprisingly, most Camps just ask you to show up and be ready for whatever they decide to throw at you.

As our camp name implies, at Better Pickleball IMMERSION camps, we want you to be prepared to be “immersed” in the experience. We’ll help you prepare before camp so you’ll be able to more quickly integrate them into your game during camp.

For instance, about a month prior to a Better Pickleball Camp, you get to meet with Tony and CJ, and the other players in your camp on a Zoom call. You’ll receive, in advance, a digital version of the physical workbook you’ll receive once you get to camp. This allows you to get a head start on understanding the Three Pillars of Pickleball™ curriculum taught during camp.

Moreover, we send you a series of videos from The Pickleball System, our online course, to review prior to the camp. These videos not only lay the foundation for what you’ll be learning but also accelerate the learning process.

What About Post-Camp resources to continue your learning journey?

Will the teachers at the camp help you to understand what you need to do to improve after that camp? Depending on the camp you choose, you’ll be at the camp for around 12 hours. Given that most studies say we lose approximately 50% of new information within an hour of learning it and that the number goes up to an average of 70% within 24 hours, how will you remember what’s most important to your game?

We cannot stress enough the value of bringing a notebook along to your camp. One of our students told us about a camp he had attended several years previous. He, like several other participants at the camp, had shown up without anything to jot down notes on. A kind-hearted fellow player offered to share her notes with the group once the camp concluded. While this was a lovely gesture, these notes likely reflected her own game, not that of the other participants.

At a Better Pickleball IMMERSION camp, we make it easy for you by providing a printed copy of your digital workbook right at the start. From the first minute, we begin preparing you for the last minute with us. We coach you on capturing into your personal workbook the information most relevant to your individual game, and throughout the camp, we guide you in creating your post-camp action plan. This step-by-step plan will focus on the key areas that will elevate your game in the quickest possible manner once you return home.

Do you have other needs that you’d like to accommodate in a Camp, such as attending with family and friends or fitting a Camp into vacation time?

Maybe you’re looking for a pickleball camp as a vacation or time spent with friends or family. If these are your primary motivators, then the location, camp schedule, and camp dates will play a pivotal role.

We’ve once had a couple of sisters drive 600 miles to a camp with three distinct objectives:

1. To relish their road trip and quality time together
2. To meet us, CJ and myself, in person
3. To have fun

Here, our advice is to approach the whole scenario just like any recreational or open play, devoid of any rigid outcome expectations. You may experience some improvement, or you might not – but either way, pickleball will be a part of your overall experience.

Attending Pickleball Camp with a Partner or Significant Other?

If you’re planning to attend camp with your significant other and would like to share the experience, opt for a pickleball camp that offers the flexibility to keep you together. It’s common for camps to segregate participants based on their skill levels, meaning a 4.0 player and their 3.0 partner may not share the same courts.

At a Better Pickleball IMMERSION camp, it’s encouraged to bring your spouse or friends of different skill levels. This fits perfectly into our format of combining skill levels into one camp, as we described above.

Our camps are personalized to the campers and are based on fundamental pickleball principles that apply to every player regardless of level. Each camper receives the pickleball training that is right for them.

Is a pickleball camp worth the investment?

This is a tricky question. Camps require an investment of time beyond the camp. That said, if you have done the above analysis and concluded that the camp you have selected meets your selection criteria, camps can be a great launching point towards improvement and, importantly, also be lots of fun. You will be on the courts with players who, like you, are there to learn and grow in the sport we all love.

When considering costs, check if the camp provider offers any guarantee regarding the quality of training.

At a Better Pickleball IMMERSION camp, If, for any reason, you’re displeased with your Better Pickleball camp experience, we promise to refund your camp fee unconditionally. No other camp would dare offer this. We do so because our camp participants tend to stay with us, grow their game with us, and utilize the opportunities to continue to learn from other members of our Better Pickleball Community.

When is the best time to book a camp?

If you’ve gotten this far into this post, the answer is probably NOW!

After all, your improvement in the game is a continuous process. People often tell us that their playing circumstances change over the course of a year. For some, it’s moving from an outdoor court indoors to a gymnasium for the winter as it gets colder. For others, it’s a change from one outdoor Rec Play environment to another (such as going someplace warm for the winter) with a different set of players.

Whatever your circumstance, your game will take a leap forward over that next phase by participating in a camp sooner rather than later.

Final Thoughts

Pickleball improvement is a process. If it is something you want, it will not happen by itself. Rather, it will require your time and dedication.

A pickleball camp can be a catalyst to ignite your game. But before you book the camp, take the time to make sure the pickleball training you expect from the camp is consistent with what you are looking for and that it is able to deliver to you the quality pickleball coaching that will make all the difference to your pickleball game.

If you are unsure about something, ask the necessary questions to find out.

Throughout this article, you’ve gained a glimpse into the benefits of Better Pickleball camps. There are 2 opportunities right now to take advantage of one of our camps. Click HERE to see the dates, locations, and details. Don’t wait!

Tony Roig

Hola. Hello. Konichiwa. After 40 years playing tennis, I am now a full-time pickleball player and professional. As a 5.0 rated Senior Pro Pickleball Player and an IPTPA-certified Master Teaching Professional, my focus is on helping players like you learn to play their best pickleball. In 2016, shortly after starting to play pickleball, my friend Tom and I jumped into the highest division at the first US Open in Naples, Florida. That morning it became clear just how much there is to learn in this seemingly simple sport – a lifetime of learning if you so choose. Since 2018, I have been on a mission to share my knowledge of pickleball so other players can enjoy the game at a higher level and attain their pickleball objectives. When not studying or playing pickleball, I like to travel with my other half, Jill.