Jason Peery coaching Tyler Loong.
Jason Peery (right) coaching Tyler Loong (left). Courtesy: Jason Peery

Jason Peery: From the hardwood to the 20x44

DALLAS, TX - Pickleball pro and coach Jason Peery didn’t find the sport until five years ago, but his coaching pedigree extends much further back than 2019.

A partner in two Silicon Valley real estate investment firms, Peery was a highly successful basketball coach at Pinewood High School in California, where he led the program to multiple league and sectional titles, and three consecutive trips to the state playoffs from 2009-2011 after a 14-year drought.

He even caught the attention of some collegiate programs for teaching his players to run the notoriously complex triangle offense.

That scheme—which helped Hall of Fame NBA coach Phil Jackson lead the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers to a combined 11 championships during the 1990s and 2000s—can take players years to fully comprehend, but Peery taught it in a way that allowed his pupils to learn it in just a few weeks.

The men’s and women’s programs at Stanford University took notice and enlisted Peery to instruct their coaches on how to teach the strategy with the same effectiveness.

That decision paid dividends for those programs and caught the eye of New York Times writer Billy Kitz, who penned a story featuring Peery entitled “Riding the Triangle to the Pinnacle at Stanford."

But this article isn’t about basketball, nor is Peery’s meticulous understanding of high-level performance limited to just one sport.

“I think very deeply about stuff, very methodically about how to teach things and how to measure improvement—stuff like how to help people and teams get better quickly,” he explained.

Coming from a competitive tennis background, Peery saw pickleball as another avenue through which his passion for understanding the intricacies of the sport could flourish.

“I saw right off the bat that pickleball is an incredibly strategic game,” he recalled. “I fell in love with it and found a way of thinking about the game and working on the game that I believed could help myself or anyone get better really quickly—and I wanted to get better really quickly myself.”

That’s what he did, eventually deciding to compete on the PPA Senior Pro Tour where he has earned seven medals.

Having been around the sport for some time now, Peery possesses an acute awareness of how much pickleball gameplay has evolved in recent years.

“You look at the highlights from five years ago to now, and you can really notice the level of talent that’s coming in and the level of work people are putting in to get an edge,” he noted.

Now, Peery coaches players like Meghan Dizon, Etta Wright, Tyler Loong, and Alix Truong and helps them to gain that edge in a highly competitive sport that has seen parity increase in 2024. He is known for implementing a series of what he calls “blood drills” that he uses to put his players in adverse situations and that break down skills and “weapons of war” into minute detail.

He says that one of the biggest benefits of having a coach is that it allows players to get a truly objective view of the game.

“In every sport, you need another set of eyes. You need someone who can speak honestly to players,” he explained. “You need someone that can identify their strengths and hold them accountable for their own goals and ambitions.”

That extra set of eyes can, of course, help players with pickleball’s tactical nuances, but Peery says a coach can also help players understand how they handle different emotions on the court.

“People are afraid of certain things, or they might get angry at other things. It might be at themselves, or it might be at their partner. It might even be at the way an opponent handles themselves. To be able to know why emotionally we respond in a certain way and to untangle all of that to help someone to be in their peak state of performance—I don’t think that anyone can really do that on their own. People like to talk about mental toughness, but I think it’s just as important to build emotional toughness.”

The father of six is also the head coach of Major League Pickleball’s California Black Bears. He says that MLP’s team-based format only adds to the complexity of coaching and gauging improvement at the pro level.

“There are things that you can do strategically during matches. You can notice patterns or things that are going right or wrong and call timeouts and make adjustments and whatnot, but there’s also the aspect of working with players to develop a plan for them to improve from month to month and tournament to tournament,” he explained.

One of the components of that long-term development is a strict dedication to fully diving into each and every aspect of the game. 

“Most people look at their game and only think about their dinks or their drops or their hands,” he shared. “For me, I have my players evaluate themselves in 60 to 70 very specific areas. Then, we look at those together, and we work on systematically improving all of them.”

It is this attention to detail that separates the very best from the best, and Peery expects more players to seek out coaches as the sport continues to grow and the stakes continue to rise.

“In a game that’s this competitive and that’s starting to bring in more money, people are going to be looking for an edge, and I think this a pretty concrete way for them to find it,” he said.

We’re already seeing players like Anna Leigh Waters, Catherine Parenteau, Federico Staksrud, Tyson McGuffin, and Christian Alshon attempting to gain that edge this way—each of them usually has a coach on the bench during matches.

Will we see this become a more common occurrence at the pro level?