If you’re reading this post, it’s probably because you’ve heard of pickleball and want to try out the sport. Maybe you’re looking for some motivation, or are simply wondering why so many people have started to play pickleball in recent years. Well, here’s my story about how pickleball changed my life.
Before Pickleball Changed My Life
I am a 33-year-old woman, working as a teacher in an elementary school. Now, I enjoy my job and love my students. But outside of my job, my social life was never the best. Don’t get me wrong—I wanted to make friends and would have loved some company. But my job can sometimes be so demanding that I’m usually too exhausted to go anywhere by the end of each school day.
On the weekends, I usually just sat at home and watched my shows, eating some takeout. After years of this going on, I decided that this constant cycle of exhaustion and then lazing off wasn’t getting me anywhere. That’s when I decided to try going for runs during the weekend.
When I began, I was practically heaving and my face was red by the end of a mile. Nevertheless, I pressed on for about a month or two. The running got slightly easier each week until I was able to run about four miles.
Now, that was great and all, but I felt I was still missing something. You guessed it—company. Although running did enhance my fitness levels and cardio, it did nothing for my social life.
Getting to Know Pickleball
On one of my runs, I saw a poster talking about some pickleball tournament that was happening. Mind you, I’d never heard of the game back then so I thought it was some weird sport that involved pickles or something.
Just out of curiosity, I decided to Google the sport to see if my assumptions were correct… and was pleasantly surprised to see that pickleball didn’t involve pickles, after all! It was a paddle-based sport, similar to tennis but on a smaller scale.
After multiple searches and watching some pickleball videos, I became interested enough to want to try it out. Running was getting tedious by then and I wanted a change of pace. I looked up the nearest pickleball courts where I signed up and reserved my first game.
My First Pickleball Game
Upon arriving at the pickleball courts, I was already pretty nervous. My social life was practically down the drain, and so were my people skills. Nevertheless, I pressed on, got my paddle, and entered my first game.
Right off the bat, the people I played pickleball with helped me figure out the rules of the game. Truth be told, I outed a lot of balls, but they were very considerate about it. I appreciated their patience. Each time I paddled, I felt a sense of happiness wash over me. Every contact between the ball and the paddle felt like an accomplishment.
It was the little things that pushed me to continue playing. Not once in the game did I check my phone for the time. I kept playing until one of my teammates, now a close friend, said, “Alright if I paddle one more time, I’m going to throw my shoulder out. Let’s head out.”
Before my teammates left, we all exchanged numbers and decided to arrange another session. Suffice to say, I haven’t missed my weekly pickleball sessions to this day. Pickleball has become an outlet for me to let out all my pent up frustration from the week.
How Has Pickleball Changed My Life?
Well, pickleball has had a tremendous impact on my personality, body, and mind. It has really helped me flourish.
I can safely say that I now feel more at ease in my job, knowing I’ve worked off any anger or negative emotions. I don’t feel as exhausted after work. It’s like a stiff weight has fallen off my back ever since I began playing this team-based sport.
The sport has also motivated me to take a step back and monitor my eating habits. I decided to follow a healthy meal plan, where I plan ahead what I’ll eat for the week. Not only am I physically benefiting from this health plan, but I save a lot more time and I’m now able to enjoy more sessions of pickleball.
My stress levels have plummeted, and I have more energy to accomplish more.
In addition to my physical health improving, I’ve gained a lot of friends during my weekly sessions. The pickleball community is highly welcoming and I couldn’t be happier. Pickleball changed my life, and all for the best!
I’m not the only one who’s noticed this difference as well. The first Thanksgiving since I started playing, I met my family and they could tell something’s changed about me. They told me I seemed more radiant and relaxed, and deservedly so.
One of my colleagues even jokingly asked me, “What are you doing that I should be doing?” So, I expanded my pickleball community by convincing a couple of my colleagues to join one of my weekly sessions.
Now, I have a whole new community to play with who back me up and cheer me on! It’s a win-win. You can’t lose if you decide to join a game of pickleball.
Why You Should Play Pickleball
Now that you’ve gotten a taste of my experience with pickleball, it’s time to tell you about the several benefits you’ll gain.
Anyone Can Play It.
Pickleball is a highly inclusive activity. Anyone young or old, big or small can enjoy pickleball. The average age of pickleball players is 38, but seniors and people with disabilities can also enjoy the sport. Even children! There are pickleball paddles designed for kids under eight years old.
This can make it an exceptionally versatile game as well. You can play as a family, you can play with friends, you can play with colleagues.
Any kind of personality can join this activity. Whether you’re all about highly intense competitive tournaments or just looking for a friendly match, pickleball has got you covered.
It’s Healthy for Your Body.
Pickleball is largely popular with seniors as well as with younger people for a reason.
It doesn’t put as much weight on your muscles and joints. This is why you can play for more than an hour without getting as tired as playing tennis, for instance. Plus, unlike tennis, a pickleball ball is much lighter, hollow, and has holes all over it. So, your arms and wrists won’t be put under a lot of strain every time you hit.
Besides less strain, you also get to enhance your hand-eye coordination and improve your heart health. This leads to less chances of heart attacks, hypertension, and strokes.
Another reason why you should play pickleball is that it can boost your immune system. For seniors, age tends to burden your immunity, especially if you have a history of smoking, a lack of sleep, and unhealthy eating habits.
But, if you regularly pick up a pickleball paddle to play, you’ll be more physically fit and able to handle diseases and infections. It also helps you to lose weight if you are looking to shed a few pounds.
It’s Mentally Healthy.
Pickleball helps you feel good by releasing endorphins. These are hormones that allow your body to alleviate pain caused by discomfort and stress. Further, it also releases other beneficial biogenic amines or neurotransmitters in your brain responsible for boosting your self-esteem.
According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), pickleball has played a large role in fighting against depression. Another common mental health issue the vast majority of our population faces is stress. Well, playing a sport like pickleball is one way to reduce high-stress levels.
Elevates Your Social Life.
You can play pickleball with one to two pickleball players per side. Single-sided games give you better chances of engaging in conversation with the other player so you can become friends.
Some say it’s easier to express your worries to a stranger than a close friend. They can offer you a fresh perspective on issues that you or your friends may never have thought about. Plus, you can make friends with people from any generation. Who knows? You may end up meeting a lifelong friend or kindred spirit in one of your sessions.
Pickleball Can Change Your Life
Has pickleball changed my life? Yes, it has. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it saved my life. It improved my mood, lowered my stress levels, made my body healthier, and gave me a much needed social life. I am always looking forward to participating more.
Pickleball is a highly inclusive sport that is easy to understand and play. After playing your first tournament, you’ll slowly gain confidence to do more and play more. It is fast becoming a very loved sport, and is a great way to make new friends.
Pickleball changed my life for the better. It can change yours, too, if you give it a chance!