FAQ

How Do You Help Pickleball Players?

I design and deliver personalized Pickleball Development Plans for women and men seeking to improve and advance to the next skill level. I also customize practice sessions with players who want to workout with an advanced 4.0+ player and develop control, consistency, and confidence. I also teach the fundamentals of pickleball to beginners and work with players seeking to improve doubles play. Finally, I help players prepare for and obtain a skill-level rating through IPTPA, the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association.

Coach Mark, with student and client Sally Harper, reviewing her Pickleball Development Plan

How Do You Protect the Safety of Players?

Coach Mark’s #1 priority is the safety of every student and client. This includes making sure court surfaces are playable and stopping play when balls come onto the court. And because of Covid-19, Coach Mark adheres to all rules established by local health authorities as well as facility managers of the venues where coaching is conducted. To further mitigate risk, Coach Mark prefers to work one-on-one with clients or in small groups of two to four, but no more than eight.

What Coaching and Consulting Services Do You Offer?

Visit the Services section of this website for a description of the programs and services I offer players as well as pickleball clubs, recreation centers, and health and fitness facilities.

How Long Have You Been Coaching?

I earned my first coaching certification in November 2019. Since then, I’ve earned several more credentials, including Level 2 certification in September 2020 from IPTPA (the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association) as a Certified Teaching Professional. In December 2020, I completed requirements for the Certified Rating Specialist credential from IPTPA.

I formed Coach Mark LLC in November 2019 and in the first year of operation, delivered 135 lessons, drilling, and practice sessions for players. I also consulted with three pickleball clubs and two organizations in the recreation, health, and fitness space.

How Much Do Your Coaching, Rating, and Consulting Services Cost?

I charge $25 USD (or $35 CAD) per hour plus tax for teaching and coaching. This is a per hour fee, not a per person fee. For example, if I conduct an Improve Your Doubles Play session, the 2-hour, $50 session cost can be divided between the four players. For skills rating sessions, I’ve developed a special pricing package for players interested in this service. Consulting fees are negotiated with each organization and based on the scope of work, project deliverables, and project expenses.

Where Do You Teach and Coach Pickleball?

I’ve been very fortunate to secure teaching and coaching privileges at the Birch Bay Activity Center as well as on a private pickleball court at Lake Whatcom in Bellingham, Washington. We are already planning for an exciting 2021 season at both locations.

What is Your Philosophy and Model?

My coaching philosophy is “Play Low and Slow.” My coaching model is summarized by “Control Plus Consistency Equals Confidence.” I also have a value proposition: “I’ll Get You Ready for the Next Level”.

Why Should I Hire You as My Coach?

There are five reasons:

First, I’m an IPTPA Level 2 Certified Teaching Professional and Certified Rating Specialist. Plus, I have 50 years of tennis playing and 10 years of tennis coaching experience. And, I spent 35 years in the workplace helping people learn new skills and improve performance. As a result, I know a thing or two about skills assessment, training, and development.

Second, I practice “diagnosis before prescription.” This means I analyze your skills very carefully and conduct a formal assessment based on established skill-level requirements. Then, I design a personalized Pickleball Development Plan of lessons, drills, and practice sessions to help you improve mechanics, movement, and mindset. I also use video analysis to facilitate learning and compare “before” and “after” snapshots of improvement.

Third, I blend a methodical approach to learning with a flexible and supportive coaching style to help you improve control, consistency, and confidence (the 3 Cs). Whatever your skill level, my job is to make learning fun and provide practical feedback you can use to improve.

Fourth, I know how to feed balls and vary the pace to match your skill level or development goal. Yes, I know this sounds trivial, but being able to feed balls is essential for high-quality instruction. It was one of the key requirements for becoming an IPTPA Level 2 Certified Teaching Professional and Rating Specialist.

Fifth, my coaching fees (as outlined above) are based on a per hour charge, not a per person charge. I’ve made my fees affordable so they can be shared with other players who want to learn and improve.

What Does “Play Low and Slow” Mean?

Coach Mark with Jean Allen and Jill Reimers at the Semiahmoo Resort indoor courts in January 2020

Play Low and Slow emphasizes defense, consistency, strategy, and teamwork. The goal is to take control of game tempo, play aggressive (“hard and fast”) when appropriate, and force opponents into making mistakes or popping up balls for easy winners. When others play low and slow, you experience fun and exciting rallies of 20+ shots instead of frustrating rallies that last only 3-4 shots.

Why Should I Play Low and Slow?

I learned about the “play low and slow” approach to pickleball from one of my coaches, Bud Meltsner. Bud introduced me to this approach by candidly dissecting the way I was playing pickleball (at that point in time). After going down to yet another defeat trying to overhit and overpower an opposing team, Bud gave me some feedback and shared one of his many pickleball mantras with me: “hit smarter, not harder.”

Bud patiently explained that if I didn’t soften my game, especially at the net, I would continue to put the ball on my opponent’s paddle or send it into the net or back fence. With his usual humor, Bud told me “he had made many a fence cry.”

I was able to put the play low and slow strategy into action just a few weeks after my feedback session with Bud. In a game one evening, my partner and I were down 2-4 against two young and athletic slammers. I turned to my partner and said, “let’s play low and slow against these two.” She nodded her head and we promptly started to block the other team’s hard shots into the non-volley zone as well as raise our drop shot consistency. We also started to frustrate the two slammers with our dinking consistency and offensive lobs from the non-volley line.

In short order, we ran off nine consecutive points and won the game, 11-4. The look of frustration on the other side of the court absolutely reinforced to me the benefit and value of playing low and slow. And, this exact same situation has been repeated many, many times since.

Do You Belong to a Pickleball Club?

Yes, I’m a member of the Bellingham Pickleball Club of Bellingham, Washington. I currently serve as an At Large board member facilitating design of a club skill development strategy and plan. Plus, I’m fortunate to play with a talented group of advanced players at Birch Bay Village in Birch Bay, Washington.

Does this Website Comply With GDPR Requirements?

Yes, Coach Mark has taken steps to comply with all requirements of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This includes making our Privacy and Cookie Policy and Terms of Service available for website user review.

How Can I Get in Touch With You?

Go to the Contact page of this website. I welcome the opportunity to help you learn how to Play Low and Slow, develop more Control, Consistency, and Confidence, and Get Ready for the Next Level.