12 Health Benefits of Pickleball + How to Get Started
Want to know the next perfect sport? Do you like tennis? Check. Do you like badminton? Check. Do you like ping-pong? Check. Then pickleball just might be your next perfect sport.
What is Pickleball?
If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone. Pickleball is not quite as mainstream as, say, baseball, basketball, football, or tennis. Yet, pickleball is picking up speed in popularity. Fast! This fun-for-all-ages game is something anyone can pick up. No matter your fitness level, you can choose the intensity you play at.
Invented in Washington state in the mid-1960s, pickleball is now the state’s official sport.
You might think “tennis” when you see the pickleball court and then decide it’s a racquet sport once you see the ball and paddle. In reality, it’s a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. The smaller court and slower ball (think whiffle ball) allow for slower action than your typical paddle or racquet sport.
The court is a small 20 x 44-foot space with a 34- to 36-inch net. You can play doubles or singles, and different zones of play apply. Rules are similar to tennis and ping pong, with the goal being to serve the ball to the other side of the net and then keep the ball in play and in bounds as long as possible by volleying it back and forth over the net. One bounce on the court is allowed before returning the ball.
Benefits of Pickleball
You might be surprised by how many benefits pickleball has to offer. The health benefits of pickleball are unexpectedly vast for something so fun and doable by virtually all ages and fitness levels. It turns out you don’t have to suffer through tough, boring workouts to get in shape. Add some pickleball to your life to boost your fitness and health.
- It’s easy to understand with a quick learning curve.
- It’s good for all ages, so it’s a great family activity or a fun outing with friends.
- Any fitness level can play.
- You can make it as hard or as easy as you want to—if you’re a beginner, you can pick up the skills to play quickly, and if you have greater athletic ability, you can also make the game more intense and competitive.
- It improves blood pressure.
- It helps tone muscles as you move, stretch, and run to hit the ball.
- It’s inexpensive and often free to play.
- It fosters social interaction, which is missing in too many lives.
- It provides a great cardiovascular workout, but you barely notice all of the running you’re doing because you’re having so much fun.
- It’s easy on the joints as this is a slower-moving game—no harsh movements like jumping and landing, no heavy loads to lift, and easy-flowing movements.
- It helps improve circulation.
- The athletic activity (and the fun you’ll have when playing) can help alleviate depression and relieve anxiety and stress. You’ll probably even find yourself laughing at times.
How to Get Started with Pickleball
Hopefully, you’re now convinced this is an amazing sport, and you’re ready to get started. Now what?
The Main Rules:
- Serve underhanded.
- Stay inside the boundaries.
- Stay out of the “kitchen”—a seven-foot non-volley zone in front of the net on both sides.
- The ball can only bounce once before it must be hit.
- Single-player games end at either 11 or 15 points, with the winner winning by 2 points.
- Double games can end at 11,15, or 21 points, again with the winner winning by a 2-point margin.
- For full rules, you can download the rulebook at USA Pickleball.
- Once you master the basics, you can explore exciting game strategies to intensify the fun and competitiveness of the game.
Equipment & Attire:
- The equipment consists of a paddle and a ball. The ball is a softball-sized hard plastic shell with holes, while the paddles (also called “bats”) resemble oversized ping-pong paddles.
- As for what to wear? Wear athletic clothing and shoes that allow you freedom of movement and allow you to be comfortable in current weather conditions.
Where to Play:
- While you can certainly “make” a pickleball court out of a tennis court, there are specific pickleball courts designed just for this sport. You may consider joining a pickleball club in your area. You can also check out Places 2 Play for courts in your area.
Why is pickleball so great? The health benefits of pickleball alone should be enough to get you curious, but aside from that, virtually all ages and fitness levels can have fun, build community, and get fit with this easy-to-learn, easy-on-the-body game.