Successful Pickleball Mentoring Program at SBR

Donna Burton

Jeff Smith, Chairman SBR Communications Committee

SaddleBrooke Ranch Pickleball Club member Donna Burton has established a very successful mentoring program for new players—matching newcomers with some of the club’s most experienced and skilled players. This is her story.

Mentoring the “newbies,” as we call our new pickleball players, is nothing new at SaddleBrooke Ranch Pickleball Association. We have many upper-level players at our club who are always on hand to help our beginner and intermediate players with their skills and drills.

When I was asked to put something together for a better way to communicate with over 500 players at our club, I decided to form a new committee to mentor our new players.

Pickleball is a new sport to many people, and after attending the “newbie” class, players are not sure what is next. They hear about the round-robin play, but they’re not sure how to sign up. Our website may be overwhelming to some, but we can help them navigate it. Players may be new residents and need a little assistance in navigating our courts. Pairing our mentors with new players has proven to be a great match.

Here’s how I launched the program. First, I reached out to our pickleball players to determine how many I could depend on each week and which days. I sent out an email and within hours I had three dozen 3.5 and 4.0 players wanting to participate.

I then sent a mass email to all 2.0 players (107 at the time) and let them know that we would have upper-level players available to help them with registering online, signing up on our round-robin play books, and helping them with scoring and court position.

They choose the selected day they want to play and email me to make a reservation. I then find out how many players I will have and send out an email to the mentors—two per court is a good start.

The 2.0 players and mentors meet on Wednesdays at 10:15 a.m. and Fridays at 8 a.m. They sign up, warm up, and meet at the Ramada for any questions. They begin each day with a dinking game. The mentors have a great time encouraging and watching them improve each week.

We have many new residents—full-time residents who were unable to play during COVID and part-time residents who are eager to learn the game of pickleball. The sport is a great way to make new friends.