5 Positive Benefits of Playing Pickleball
Looking for a way to squeeze in some exercise but don't like going to the gym? There's a fast-growing sport that has been gaining popularity in recent years called pickleball. This game is a hybrid of badminton and tennis that provides an enjoyable way to stay active and have fun with friends or family.
Why do nearly five million people (and counting) love pickleball?
It is an easy-to-learn game that players of all ages and skill levels can enjoy. Plus, it offers several physical and mental boosts to even the most casual participants.
If you’re excited about learning how to play pickleball and discovering all the great benefits it offers, keep reading.
Top 5 benefits of playing pickleball
You’ve probably heard of the game before, but you may still be wondering what it has to offer. Here are five significant benefits you can get from playing pickleball:
Mental health boost
We all need a little break from time to time. Pickleball can help players unwind by encouraging them to focus on the game, which can help reduce stress levels and even improve overall mental health.
Physical exercise has long been connected to mental well-being, with studies showing that the two have a reciprocal relationship. Exercising helps improve mood, which in turn can lead to increased physical performance.
If you want to maximize the benefits to your mental health, jump on the court with a partner, as data suggests team sports can limit anxiety and depression even more than individual activities.
Is pickleball a good exercise? All physical activity burns calories, but pickleball is a great way to get a moderate-to-high-intensity workout. The exact number of calories expended will change depending on many factors but one study found that the average person would burn 350 calories per 60 minutes of play. That is equal to:
- 30 minutes of running (12 min/mile)
- 35 minutes of biking
- 40 minutes of swimming
- 45 minutes of hiking
- A full round of golf (walking)
Even playing a casual match will help you reach your fitness goals and stay in shape.
Reduces health risks
For many older adults, pickleball can be a great way to stay active without putting too much strain on the body. The low-impact nature of the game makes it easy on joints and muscles, reducing the risk of injuries associated with high-impact sports like running or basketball.
Aerobic exercise (the kind you get when playing pickleball) may also help reduce the risk of conditions like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Improves coordination, movement, and balance
Sitting at a desk all day can take a toll on your body, and pickleball is an excellent way to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting. The game can help improve coordination, movement, and balance by engaging the lower-body muscles while challenging you to control the ball with a racquet or paddle.
These benefits will translate into other areas of life as well. Think better posture, improved agility when playing sports like tennis or golf, and enhanced overall fitness performance.
The risk of falling is also decreased, adding another benefit of pickleball for seniors.
Builds social connections
Playing pickleball is also great for meeting new people and building social connections. The game encourages teamwork, as players must work together to score points against their opponents. This makes it easy to form friendships with others who share your passion for the sport.
If you’re looking for some low-key competition, many cities have pickleball leagues that meet regularly; these are great ways to make even more connections with like-minded individuals in your community.
How does pickleball work?
Sold yet? It can still be a bit daunting to jump onto the court to play a game you’ve never tried before. That’s why it’s essential to understand the basics of how pickleball works before you get started.
Here are the main rules and regulations you should know.
Pickleball is played on a court the same size as the one used for badminton, which measures 20' x 44'. It is split in the middle by a net, which measures 34 inches high in the center, and 36 inches high on the sides.
Each side of the net is then split again into three zones:
- The right service area, measuring 15' x 10'
- The left service area, measuring 15' x 10'
- The no-volley zone, measuring 7’ from the net on either side
The no-volley area is also known as the "kitchen" in pickleball lingo and has some specific rules.
Like tennis or badminton, each point starts with one player serving the ball. The server must hit the ball underhand diagonally across the net, and it must land in the opponent’s service area (past the kitchen).
Once the point is started, players send it back and forth over the net by hitting ground strokes – shots where the ball bounces a single time before they send it back – or volleys, which are hit directly out of the air without letting it bounce.
The kitchen, or no-volley zone, is an area where (as the name suggests), volleys are not allowed. A player cannot enter that area unless the ball has already hit the ground.
The point ends either with the ball bouncing twice on one side of the net or landing out of bounds. Only the serving team can score. If they are the ones who have lost the point, the service changes. Both partners serve before it moves to the other team.
Because the service doesn’t change sides until both players have had a chance, the score is listed with three numbers.
- Serving team’s score
- Receiving team’s score
- Current server (partner 1 or 2)
For instance, 3-2-2 would mean the serving team is winning 3-2 and are on their second server. That means the next time they lose a point, the service will switch to the other team.
How to get started in pickleball
The best part about pickleball is that it’s incredibly easy to get started. All you need is a paddle, a ball, and some friends or family members who are willing to give it a try.
The game itself can be played on any level surface, like an indoor or outdoor court. If you don’t have access to one of these areas, there are plenty of pickleball courts popping up around the country. Some clubs may even have paddles to borrow for your first game.
“Reach out to clubs in your area and ask about lessons for beginners. Group lessons are especially helpful and fun. You will also meet other new players and can arrange practice sessions together.” -Betsy Kenniston, Board Member of the Brooks Pickleball Club, Pickleheads ambassador
If you want to invest a little into your equipment, there are some great budget-friendly options available. You can find quality paddles and balls for relatively cheap, which will make the game more enjoyable.
Pickleball is an increasingly popular sport that offers several physical and mental benefits to players of all ages and skill levels. Plus, it’s an incredibly fun game so you won’t even notice how much exercise you are getting as you play.
So if you’re looking for a way to stay active while having fun with friends or family, pickleball is worth a try. Who knows? You may just find your new favorite pastime.