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The Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Pickleball


What has pickleball taught you about life? As a former tennis player, my transition to pickleball has taught me many valuable life lessons. I have won many games, but I’ve lost some, too.

You might have heard that going from pickleball to tennis would be easy. But it’s actually quite difficult. As someone who played tennis for seventeen years, played on my college team and went on to instruct and coach for ten years, the transition to playing the fun pickleball took time. Still, I could not ignore the life lessons learned from playing pickleball.


My First Experience with Pickleball

My first time on a pickleball court was at one of the tennis clubs I worked at pre-pandemic. The court was lined with just masking tapes. 

A lesson had been canceled at the last minute—thankfully, it was the last one for the night—and the Monday night pickleball crew was coming onto the court. They had an uneven number of players and thought pulling me, a tennis instructor, onto the court would be a good substitute for one of their players.

Playing Pickleball Shifted My Mindset and Perspective

We quickly discovered how terrible I was at this game. I fumbled the doubles, scored up, stepped into the kitchen, and illegally volleyed. It turns out that doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome truly is the definition of insanity because I kept trying to put topspin on every shot despite them all landing ahead into the net.

But despite the rocky start, I fell in love. I overcame my feud with how to say the doubles scoring. I learned to embrace a different playing technique one must employ when stepping onto the courts with a pickleball paddle in hand.

The intensity of pickleball is something that is addictive—and don’t even get me started on the sound of a ball hit by a paddle. Whether you win or lose, each practice match teaches you something. 

After that night of substituting, I made Monday night pickleball a weekly thing. I have learned many lessons about success and failure since.


Going from Tennis to Play Pickleball Taught Me Invaluable Life Lessons

There is no doubt why pickleball is the fastest-growing sport. I can say with confidence that switching from tennis to pickleball shifted my perspective and overall nature. This fun sport was able to teach me multiple life lessons, on top of all the social and community benefits. It also taught me to be careful of my opponents.

Here are the other pickleball lessons I learned on a pickleball court:

1. Think Fast, but Be Patient

In pickleball, you have to think two to three shots ahead because the game is so fast-paced. Since I picked up my first paddle, it’s become easier to be patient and find the right time to go for my shots or hit the balls. 

I should have learned this lesson a decade ago on the tennis court or while playing ping pong. But unlike tennis, the quickness of pickleball allowed for a greater learning curve. 

2. Community

The pickleball community in my small town is very tight-knit, but it’s not an exclusive group. The Monday night group welcomed me with open arms. I made fast friends, partners, and relationships with many different age groups.

After a night of pickleball, we would go to the local sushi restaurant, eat together, and enjoy a laugh. Pickleball has truly enriched my social life.

3. Move Your Feet

Whenever you’re having a bad day playing pickleball, your footwork is usually the root of the problem. It’s probably slow, and uncoordinated. It’s an excellent reminder that if I’m a little more active with my footwork, I’ll be in a better place to set up the shot or serve

And this is the lesson that carried over to my mental health. I tell myself to move my feet when I’m feeling down or having a sluggish day. Something simple like taking a walk outside with my dog resets my day. Regular practice and gameplay sharpen my pickleball skills, but it also helps me to break away from negative notions and leaves room for me to develop better ones.


Careful Focus and Aim

Focusing on the aim of your pickleball paddle also helps improve your focus in life. It is true that the goal of most games is to win. Earn points, score the most, keep improving your success rates, and learn from and rectify all mistakes. 

But with pickleball, losing a game is not too bad. It really is a sport that was meant to be enjoyed. Make friends stay fit, and keep on volleying!