What is Pickleball? Learn About This Fast-Growing Sport and Its Benefits

Rachel MacPherson - The Upside Blog

by | Updated: June 24th, 2022 | Read time: 4 minutes

Pickleball is an exciting, increasingly popular sport loved by people of all ages. It uses a paddle like ping pong, tennis and badminton, but it is a unique sport combining elements of its forebears. Pickleball was originally created in the 1960s for children but is now the fastest-growing sport for all ages in the United States.

A Middle-Aged Woman in a Teal Tank Top Smiles as She Serves a Pickleball, Representing How to Play Pickleball | Vitacost.com/Blog

By the 1970s, pickleball was recognized by Tennis magazine, and with more interest, tournaments and organizations worldwide began to crop up. The sport has changed shape to include specially designed equipment. Learn more about this entertaining sport, its benefits and how to get started at home.

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is inherently a social sport, which is why it is so popular today, especially among seniors living in retirement communities. You can play pickleball in teams or as a 1 on 1 game.

Pickleball is played on a court about the size of a doubles badminton court, which is smaller than the typical tennis court. It is rectangular and has a 7-foot non-volley area lining either side of the 30-inch high net. Like other paddle sports, the court is divided between right and left service zones. However, many people use any outdoor court in their neighborhood or create one with chalk or tape.

How to Play Pickleball

To play pickleball, you’ll need a ball. Pickleballs resemble wiffle balls and are made of a smooth, molded plastic with holes of different sizes. The balls are usually colored either yellow, blue, black or various colors.

Pickleball can be played indoors or outdoors, and balls are unique to each environment. Indoor balls are lighter and softer with fewer holes, and they travel slower. Outdoor balls are typically heavier and more rigid with smaller holes, and they travel much faster. The paddles are similar to ping pong paddles but are made of lightweight, high-tech materials.

The goal of pickleball is to score points similarly to other paddle sports. In other words, you send the ball over the net to your opponent with the aim of them being unable to serve it back to you. If you are successful, you can score points, or if your opponent volleys within the non-volley zone or hits the ball out of bounds, you’ll also score points. The first opponent to reach 11 points while being two points ahead will win. There are no ties in pickleball.

A fun way to boost your activity

Pickleball is loved by so many because it is an enjoyable way to spend your time. This makes it ideal for reaching fitness goals during your week. Pickleball helps burn calories to maintain a healthy weight and improve your quality of life.

One of the real life benefits of physical activity from pickleball is reducing your risks of certain diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, arthritis and Type 2 diabetes. Physical activity also improves your sleep, mood and energy levels and is known to prevent dementia by up to 80%.

Research shows that pickleball in middle aged and older aged adults three times a week for an hour can improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels and cardiovascular fitness over six weeks.

Aside from being more physically active, people who play pickleball will experience the benefits of social sports. Participating in social activities like pickleball is essential for those growing older who may feel lonely or bored after retirement.

How to get started with pickleball

If you’re interested in playing pickleball, you should check with your doctor to see if you’re physically fit enough to play. If you have any injuries or knee pain or you’ve been inactive for a long time, it’s imperative to discuss this with your healthcare provider.

If you have issues such as osteoarthritis or other complications that might cause injuries, it’s best to avoid pickleball because you will need to make rapid direction changes and other movements that could aggravate your condition. However, if you do not have bone issues, note that pickleball could help you actually form stronger bones and protect bone mass from declining.

If you have the go-ahead, you can check your local community to see if there are any pickleball organizations near you. Learning the ways of the game from an organized community will ensure you can make the most out of your new hobby. Be sure you have supportive shoes, a water bottle to keep hydrated and that you support your activity with proper nutrition.

You can also try the Jigsaw Health Pickleball Cocktail electrolyte drink to ensure you are properly hydrated. This supplement formulated specifically for pickleball players includes essential minerals lost through sweat and required for optimal performance and recovery, including magnesium, sodium and potassium.

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