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How to Teach Pickleball in School's PE Class to Promote Kids Health

1 month, 3 weeks ago

1555  0
Posted on May 29, 2024, 3 p.m.

I used to love physical education (PE) when I was in high school, and unfortunately, pickleball hadn't become the nation’s top growing sport when I was in school even though pickleball can be good for your health. As such, I was not able to learn pickleball and often had to settle with badminton or running.

As many tennis courts are converting to pickleball courts, it could be important for a school to get ready to teach kids pickleball in PE.

Getting Cheap Pickleball Paddles

As you are going to need to get many paddles for your kids, consider researching how to find the best budget pickleball paddle, so you won’t blow through your entire physical education budget early in the year.  

How to Fit Pickleball within a 50 Minute Class Period

Firstly, you may want to figure out which kids know how to play pickleball and which kids have never learned.

You may then have the kids who know how to play pickleball help to teach the kids who do not know how to play.

I know how challenging it can be to fit a comprehensive lesson into a 50-minute class period. Teaching pickleball, a fast-growing and engaging sport, can be particularly demanding within this timeframe. However, with careful planning and a strategic approach, it is possible to provide a fun and educational pickleball experience for your students. 

Here’s how I would structure a 50-minute pickleball lesson, including tips on court setup and effective teaching strategies.

Setting Up the Courts

When it comes to setting up pickleball courts in a school gymnasium, creativity is key. If your gym doesn’t have dedicated pickleball courts, here are a few alternatives I would try:

  1. Badminton Courts: If your gym has badminton courts, you’re in luck. Pickleball courts are very similar in size, and you can use the same lines and net height. Simply adjust the net to the appropriate height (34 inches at the center for pickleball).
  2. Modified Tennis Courts: For schools with tennis courts, I would use tape or chalk to outline pickleball courts within the existing tennis court lines. Each tennis court can typically accommodate two pickleball courts.
  3. Portable Nets: Investing in portable pickleball nets can be a game-changer. These nets are easy to set up and take down, allowing you to convert any open space into a pickleball court.
  4. Multi-Purpose Gym Lines: Many gyms have multi-purpose lines. I would use tape to temporarily mark the boundaries of pickleball courts on the gym floor. Make sure the tape is easily removable to avoid damage to the floor.

Structuring the 50-Minute Lesson

Warm-Up (5 Minutes): This is to get the students' blood flowing and muscles ready. Activities like jogging around the gym, dynamic stretches, or a quick game of tag work well. The goal is to increase heart rates and prepare the students for physical activity.

Introduction to Pickleball (5 Minutes): Next, I would give a brief overview of pickleball, including its history, basic rules, and objectives. Using visual aids, such as diagrams or videos, can help students understand the game quickly. Emphasize key points such as the double-bounce rule, serving techniques, and the non-volley zone (kitchen).

Skill Development Drills (15 Minutes): To build fundamental skills, I would set up stations around the gym, each focusing on a different aspect of pickleball:

  1. Serving Station: Practice serves, emphasizing the underhand motion and correct positioning behind the baseline.
  2. Volley Station: Work on volleying with a partner, focusing on control and keeping the ball in play.
  3. Drinking Station: Practice soft shots over the net from the non-volley zone.
  4. Rally Station: Encourage students to rally back and forth, aiming for consistency.

Rotate students through each station every 3-4 minutes to ensure they get a well-rounded practice.

Mini-Games (20 Minutes): After the skill drills, I would organize mini-games to apply what they’ve learned. Depending on the number of students and available courts, I would either set up round-robin matches or divide the class into small groups, each playing on a different court.

  1. Doubles Matches: Given the time constraints, doubles matches are more efficient than singles. This setup also fosters teamwork and communication.
  2. Shortened Games: Play games to 7 or 11 points instead of the usual 11 or 15, ensuring everyone gets a chance to play within the limited time.

During these games, I would circulate and offer pointers, reinforcing good techniques and sportsmanship.

Cool Down and Recap (5 Minutes): Finally, I would wrap up the class with a cool-down session. Simple stretching exercises help prevent soreness and promote flexibility. I would also take a couple of minutes to recap the key points of the lesson, answer any questions, and give a preview of the next class.


Teaching pickleball in a 50-minute PE class is certainly feasible with a well-organized plan while helping students stay fit. By efficiently setting up courts, focusing on essential skills, and maximizing game time, students can enjoy and learn this exciting sport. Pickleball not only enhances physical fitness but also teaches valuable lessons in teamwork and strategy. I would encourage fellow PE teachers to give it a try and watch their students’ enthusiasm for the game grow.

This article was written for WHN by Ben Tejes who thoroughly enjoys pickleball and actively researches how to stay healthy. He enjoys sharing both pickleball and health topics in his writing. In his free time, you can find Ben spending time with his wife and 4 young children exploring the Bay Area, California.

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of WHN/A4M. Any content provided by guest authors is of their own opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.

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