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Health Benefits of Pickleball for Seniors

Your doctor says you need more exercise, and your spouse says you need more exercise, and the mirror says you need more exercise. As you examine the health benefits of pickleball for seniors (and everybody for that matter,) you think that since it is such a fast-growing sport in the United States and increasingly, Canada and Europe, maybe this is something you can do.

There is only one problem: you think exercise, even moderate exercise is not your thing. It's not that you are against physical activity, but you've tried other sports like ping pong and badminton but playing a game like these are fine for some but not for you.

Since pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country knowing all the benefits will help you make a decision if playing pickleball is right for you. Of course, before you start any new activity, check with your doctor.

Top 10 Health Benefits of Playing Pickleball

1). Cardiorespiratory Fitness

While the small court used for pickleball will limit almost all the serious running you would have on a tennis court, there is still plenty of heart rate raising movement. Basically, you have to move up from the base line to the kitchen line on every point.

Hitting the ball will engage the upper body creating an overall moderate exercise as you move all over the pickleball courts. But because the games are relatively short, playing pickleball for seniors means frequent resting too.

Studies do show that regularly playing pickleball three times a week for an hour each time, will lower blood pressure. Of course, improved blood pressure has many overall health benefits.

2). Aerobic Exercise

Playing pickleball has lung benefits to go with heart benefits. While pickleball courts create smaller court pickleball moves, unlike the hardcore running found on a tennis court, you will rarely experience uncomfortable labored breathing during a pickleball game.

Since pickleball offers aerobic exercise benefits without the heavy exertion found in other sports, yet more movement than found in games like ping pong, it may be the ideal exercise for seniors. Former tennis players report that when they play pickleball they get the competition they crave without having the intimidation of entire tennis courts to cover.

3). Strength Building

Perhaps you are wondering what muscles does pickleball work? The most engaged muscles when you play pickleball include:


  1. Legs - to move around the pickleball court
  2. Core - Older people can lose overall strength as time goes on, but one of the pickleball benefits to the body is reaching for lower balls or shots aimed at pickleball lines which helps enhance core strength.
  3. Shoulder / arm / wrist - While playing a game of ping pong and badminton and tennis all have this same benefit, pickleball players do not have as much risk for tennis elbow. Like ping pong paddles, pickleball paddles have far less vibration that reaches the arm when compared to tennis racquets.

4). Movement

The health benefits for seniors from moving around during a pickleball game cannot be overstated. A good game of pickleball gets blood flowing to the extremities as you chase that plastic ball around the court. Staying active will benefit muscles, joints and body systems.

Pickleball movements are perfectly set up for seniors as the movement is not over long distances. There are often pickleball players who have "retired" from more demanding activities due to the difficulties some have of covering an entire tennis court or basketball court.

In addition, those recovering from injuries or some surgeries find that to play pickleball to be an excellent way to have moderate exercise and fun all at the same time. Again, see your doctor before you jump onto the pickleball courts.

5). Play Provides Stretching

Stretching before you play a game of pickleball and after you play a game of pickleball is a good idea borrowed from the sport of running. Less recognized is the stretching that takes place as you play a game.

Regularly, you have to reach for low shots like dinks and a normal part of the sport of pickleball is reaching for a ball your competition is trying to hit by you but keep in court. The simple rules in the sport's official regulations created by the USA Pickleball Association encourage long rallies during a game - on purpose.

6). Hand Eye Coordination

As your pickleball game improves you will notice that your hand eye coordination improves. The sport of pickleball clearly strengthens your hand and arm (or hands if you hit a two handed backhand).

Particularly when you are playing volleys at the kitchen line, you will develop quicker reflexes to execute these shots just like when you play tennis at the net. All of this stretching, strengthening and cardio health benefits should contribute to overall good health.

7). Balance

Unlike tennis with all of its running, the game of pickleball relies on short, quick movements. As one of the top benefits of pickleball, this game develops balance to react to close in volleys and side to side movement.

In addition, reacting to low balls and high balls enhances balance and coordination. Keeping one's weight as evenly distributed as possible is key to hitting both kinds of shots.

8). Mental Health Benefits

An important part of pickleball's popularity is the fact that this is a very social sport. It is very easy to make social connections as most of the play is in doubles.

Pickleball facilities are popping up all over the place which further enhances the mental health aspects of the game of pickleball. An underappreciated mental health benefit is the social connection one makes as you play this sport.

Is pickleball good for your brain? The emerging science is telling us that not only is pickleball good for your heart, muscles and joints, it is also good for your mind. As you begin to age, exercise is one of many components of good brain health.

Because of the physical size of tennis courts and a badminton court, the social aspect of play has to wait until after the game is over. With the game of pickleball, even if you played a very active game, you will still be better able to interact due to the size of the court.

9). Fun

The pickleball craze is largely because the sport is flat out fun even if you haven't played any sport before. The rules are simple to learn, the ball bounces slowly unlike many sports, and the game is all about making it easy for everyone of all ages to have fun.

Comparison to Tennis and Badminton

Some sports like tennis and badminton are tougher to learn but fun in their own ways. While there certainly are pickleball tournaments for competition, the clear focus is on fun.

Comparison to Ping Pong

While the physical space for ping pong is small, the majority of play is singles. The social connection aspect is certainly there, but with pickleball it really was invented in Washington State by some people dedicated to the concept of social fun.

10). Fiscal Health

Unlike some sports, pickleball can be played for very little money. If you have a paddle, ball and even a portable net, the sport can be played anywhere you can put down lines.

Playing at a public facility, usually with lines over tennis or basketball courts, is free, and paddles are under $100 (and can be way under), and a ball is a couple bucks. There really isn't any financial risk at all if you make use of a recreation or senior center that supplies your equipment.

is singles. The social connection aspect is certainly there, but with pickleball it really was invented in Washington State by some people dedicated to the concept of social fun.

How to Get Started in Pickleball

If you balance out all the top benefits of pickleball, it is no wonder that it lands at or near the top of fastest growing sports. It doesn't matter what your age is, this can be the week you try pickleball.

Get a Paddle

While it is nice to try out paddles loaned to you by your friends, it is ideal if you get your own. See our Buying Guide for details.

The game of pickleball was invented by some folks with materials they had on hand. Sure, it is more than ok if you want to join one of those private joints with luxurious facilities for pickleball but it certainly isn't required.

Just be aware the paddle is your most important investment and that is easily accomplished for under $100. These have all kinds of space age materials in them as many new companies have sprung up to tap into the surging demand from pickleball enthusiasts.

Learn the Rules

If you want the official rule book, it is available free from USAPA. Of you can get a great summary from our Learning Center.

Better yet, have a friend teach you. Remember: the social aspect of pickleball is a key attribute for participants of all ages.

Learn Pickleball Scoring

One minor annoyance of pickleball is the scoring. Before every point, the server announces their score, then their opponent's score and finally whether they are the first server for their team or the second server.

Therefore, if you are the first server and your team is ahead 5-2 you announce the score as "Five, Two on One." If the other guys have 6 and you have 1 and you are the second server you announce, "One, six, on two."

Locate a Court

In this age of rapid growth for pickleball, you may be asking if there is senior pickleball near me. The USAPA maintains a database which is rather difficult to keep up to date.

For outdoor courts, look first at public tennis courts to see if pickleball lines have been put down and if you can lower the tennis net to pickleball regulation height. Public indoor courts are a bit harder to find but many senior centers have them as do churches with gymnasiums.

Take Lessons

While there are plenty of videos on line, there is no substitute for live lessons by a qualified pickleball instructor. No only can they help you understand how to serve and how to hit the basic strokes, they can provide you with the repetition that can help avoid bad habits and to groove strokes with drills to make your learning curve just that much shorter.

In addition, instructors are superb at explaining the strategy behind certain shots. As you progress, you will learn some tactics to help win points.

Shop for the Best is proud to offer a full lineup of paddles for beginners through experts. Whether your preference is for graphite or fiberglass composite we have a huge selection of paddles available, in stock and ready to ship to you.

Whether you are new to the sport and need a lighter paddle or a power player looking for a heavier paddle, there are plenty of choices available to you. We also stock pickleball balls for either indoor or outdoor play.

Pickleball shoes are specifically designed to be light and to enhance your footwork. The size you need is ready to make your feet happy enough to dance.

If you have questions, our friendly, local team of experts are here to help. Call us and let us help you have big fun with pickleball for seniors (and everyone else too!)