One of my favorite ways to get to know a patient during our first meeting is to ask about what kind of hobbies they have. It seems like a year or two ago that I started to notice quite a few of my patients were playing a sport I had never heard of called pickleball. Initially, my impression of the game was that it was just a slower-paced tennis match. However, as more and more people started to rave about this up-and-coming sport, I was motivated to do some research to discover what the big deal was all about.

After some observation, I arrived at two conclusions. The first was that pickle ball is way more challenging than it looks. The second was that it has some amazing benefits! Since a large share of our community (and my patient population) is active adults over 50, I want to share some of the health advantages that pickleball has to offer.

#1 It’s Fun! The best way to stay active over the long term is to do something that makes you lose track of time. The strategy required of pickle ball players keeps their minds active in addition to their body.

 #2 Your balance will improve. With age, the balance systems in your body begin to slow a bit. The good news is that if you challenge those systems, they can make big improvements, no matter your age. Running around the court, reaching outside your base of support, and controlling your speed are all great ways to maintain and improve your balance.

 #3 It improves your cardiovascular health. The pace of the game of pickleball is a great way to keep your heart rate elevated and get your sweat on. Playing for 30-90 minutes a few times a week is a great way to reach recommended exercise time frames established by the American Heart Association.

 #4 You will make new friends. Pickleball is played with 2-4 players on the court at a time so this creates a great opportunity to meet new people. Research has shown that surrounding yourself with other active individuals will help keep you moving.

 #5 The sport is more shoulder-friendly than tennis. While pickleball and tennis do have some similarities, one major difference is that a pickle ball swing is usually underhanded. In general, this will allow you to play for longer with less upper body strain. If tennis has fatigued your shoulders over the years and you just haven’t enjoyed being on the court like you used to, perhaps pickleball will be a good fit.

While I’m nowhere near an expert on the game, my research into pickle ball has truly grown my respect for the game. I hope this information will also help you to be willing to give this great sport a try. If you would like more information on the sport or how to get involved locally, I recommend you reach out to USA Pickleball Association Ambassador Dave Gallinat at 810-964-8440 or