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Two Pickleball paddles and basket of balls on court under

Why you should try pickleball

2 MIN READ • 4th August 2022

If you love tennis, badminton or ping pong, then chances are you’ll like pickleball, one of the fastest growing sports right now

Pickleball has become hugely popular all around the globe, but particularly in the US, where it’s become ‘America’s fastest growing sport’, according to The New York Times. And it’s quickly becoming just as popular here in the UK too.

It’s particularly popular with people in midlife. In fact, half of all serious pickleball players (those who play eight or more times a year) are 55 and older, according to the USA Pickleball Association.

But, the sport appeals to all ages. Plus it has a huge range of physical and mental benefits. So to find out why it’s worth trying it, we spoke to the sporting experts.

Right off the bat

“Pickleball is both an indoor and outdoor racket and padel sport, combining elements of tennis, table tennis, and badminton,” says James Brady, a PT at OriGym.

“It involves two to four players hitting a plastic ball over a net using padels. Labelled as one of the fastest-growing sports in America, pickleball is relatively new to the UK. However, there are an estimated 4,000 players in the country, and this number is continuing to grow.”

Just like other padel sports, such as badminton and ping-pong, pickleball is a full-body workout that engages your whole body, as James explains.

“As this is played using quick movements with your padel, it can tone the muscles and improve your balance,” says James. “And let’s not forget, the exercise of moderate intensity such as pickleball can lower blood pressure, and improve blood sugar regulation and cholesterol levels. It can also burn calories to help you maintain a healthy weight.”

Playing pickleball can also be a great way to improve your heart health, as similar to other racket sports, pickleball can boost the cardiovascular system, helping to prevent many problems associated with old age such as strokes, heart attacks, and hypertension. “It also aids coordination and general mobility,” adds James.

Why is pickleball so popular?

One of the factors behind the sport’s growing popularity is that it’s a great low-impact alternative to other, more strenuous forms of exercise.

“Pickleball is similar to tennis but is played on a smaller court with a lower net and a plastic ball with holes in it,” says PT, coach and co-founder of Team HH, Ryan Hodgson.

“However, unlike tennis for example, it can be played both indoors and outdoors and is suitable for all ages and capabilities. In fact, one of the great things about pickleball is that you can play at different skill levels.”

Like tennis, pickleball can be played as singles or doubles and can be played both inside or outside, but, unlike tennis, the ball in pickleball is made of hollow plastic and comes with holes in it, meaning it travels at a slower speed than a tennis ball, which makes it easier to hit and lessens the risk of injury.

“The padel is also similar to a table tennis padel but slightly bigger, meaning it is easier to hit the ball, making it great for those who want to improve their hand-eye coordination.”

Pickleball is particularly great for those who want to play a community-based sport.

“The game is also becoming popular in schools, with the slower pace and lighter equipment making it a safer way for kids to keep active without worrying about hurting themselves or the space around them,” adds Ryan.

Pickleball England, the national governing body in the UK, is actively promoting the sport and offering training and certification programmes for coaches and referees, meaning its popularity is set to continue to rise in the future.”

Meet the writer
Stacey Carter
Freelance writer

When I’m not at my desk writing a feature or researching the latest trends in women’s health, you’ll probably find me deep in a book or doing a LISS-style session in the gym in the evening. I have... Discover more

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