The Joy of Playing Pickle Ball.

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According to The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) 2023 Sports, Fitness, and Leisure Activities Topline Participation Report, Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America for the third year in a row with 8.9 million players in the United States over the age of six years old, and a growth of 39.3% over the last two years. Participation nearly doubled in 2022, increasing by 85.7% year-over-year and by an astonishing 158.6% over three years.

Pickleball is a racket or paddle sport in which two (singles) or four (doubles) players hit a perforated, hollow plastic ball with paddles over a 34-inch-high (0.86 m) net until one side is unable to return the ball or commit an infraction. Pickleball is often described as a combination of tennis, Ping-Pong and badminton.

History of Pickleball 2

Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, Washington. Three dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum — whose kids were bored with their usual summertime activities — are credited for creating game. Pickleball has evolved from original handmade equipment and simple rules into a popular sport throughout the US and Canada. The game is growing internationally as well, with many European and Asian countries adding courts.

Pickleball Court Layout
A pickleball court is the same size as a doubles badminton court and measures 20×44 feet. In pickleball, the same court is used for both singles and doubles play. The net height is 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches in the middle. The court is striped similar to a tennis court with right and left service courts and a 7-foot non-volley zone in front of the net (referred to as the “kitchen”). Courts can be constructed specifically for pickleball or they can be converted using existing tennis or badminton courts.

Pickleball is a great form of exercise

According to various research, pickleball is a great form of exercise:

  • Physical activity differences between walking and playing pickleball doubles 3 – Playing pickleball doubles elicits greater physical activity demand with more enjoyment when compared to self-paced walking except for in step count. These changes indicate playing pickleball may be a suitable physical activity to improve and maintain physical fitness.
  •  Smith, et al., (2018) showed that playing pickleball doubles for 15 minutes leads to an average acute cardiovascular response of 51% heart rate reserve, 53% VO2 reserve, 4.1 METs of exercise intensity, and expends 5.9 kcal per minute [1]. Also, following a 6-week pickleball intervention, older adults decreased blood pressure and increases in VO2max values [1]. Pickleball, therefore, has the ability to generate a moderate intensity level of physical activity, and create a positive physiological responses beneficial to physical health.
  • The Acute and Chronic Physiological Responses to Pickleball in Middle-Aged and Older Adults 4 – Findings from the present study support the activity of Pickleball as a feasible alternative to traditional exercise modalities for middle-aged and older adults that elicits metabolic responses within the accepted moderate intensity domain. Moreover, regular participation in Pickleball improves cardiorespiratory fitness and positively modifies key cardiovascular disease risk factors.

My Love for Pickleball

I started playing pickleball late last year (2022) in the local YMCA, where I work out daily, and since the day I played the game for the first time, I have been hooked. I am a runner, and it shows on the pickleball court; I usually go for every ball served. I play the game so passionately that most fellow players wonder where I get the energy to run that much around the court. I can’t explain it either, but I light up when playing pickleball. I play other racket sports, such as lawn tennis, ping pong and badminton, but the joy I derive from playing pickle ball is extraordinary.

Anytime I finish playing pickleball, I usually sweat a lot, laughing profusely because of the passion I put into the game and the joy of winning. One of the few things I can hardly say no to is an invitation to play pickleball or scrabble; my love for both games is unmatched. Of late, I have been deriving so much joy in playing pickleball that I am beginning to look for tournaments to play professionally because of the pleasure I derive from it.

I am constantly optimizing for joy and amplifying anything that makes me feel good about myself and my process. Of late, pickleball seems to be number one on the list of fitness activities I derive great joy from. I wish more younger people played the sport, and I intend to be a source of motivation for the sport. So watch out for me in a court near you.


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