Six mental health benefits of playing pickleball

Looking for a sport that will help you get fit and improve your overall wellbeing? Read on for six mental health benefits of playing pickleball.

Pickleball is a sport that combines tennis, badminton, and ping-pong and is taking social media by storm. Google Searches for “pickleball equipment bats and balls” increased 283% this past week! 

This isn’t just another paddle sport but a recipe for your overall mental wellbeing. To understand how it can help, licensed clinical psychologist Dr Paula Freedman, founder of HumanKind Psychological Services, shares six mental health benefits you can enjoy when playing pickleball.

1) Stress reduction

Pickleball is a dynamic game that encourages an active lifestyle. Staying active is one way to reduce stress for everyone naturally. 

As participants swing their paddles and strategize their next move, they engage in physical activity, which can release endorphins – the body’s natural stress relievers. When we experience that endorphin release, it can help us unwind and relax.

2) Improved mood

Beyond the thrill of the game, pickleball can also help elevate your mood. When you’re engaged in a game of pickleball, your body can respond by increasing production of serotonin, a chemical that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. Many people find that with that increased serotonin, they experience an enhanced mood and more positive outlook.

3) Increased self-esteem

Learning a new sport and mastering its techniques can provide a significant boost to one’s self-esteem. Pickleball, with its unique blend of sports, allows participants to learn and improve consistently.

This progress, along with the benefits of feeling stronger or increasing endurance, can build confidence and foster a stronger sense of internal validation.

4) Enhanced cognitive function

The benefits of pickleball aren’t just physical. The sport is a fantastic cognitive stimulator. The strategic gameplay that pickleball requires works to improve mental agility. Like other cardiovascular activities, pickleball boosts brain function, enhances life satisfaction and personal well-being, and has the potential to improve overall happiness, according to a study published by the National Library of Medicine.

This includes boosting cognitive functions such as attention, focus, and quick decision-making, making it a great option for tapping into and using different parts of your brain. 

5) Social interaction

One of the most crucial aspects of pickleball is its inherent ability to foster social bonds. The beauty of pickleball is in its communal nature. It facilitates social interaction, promoting a sense of belonging and combating loneliness and isolation.

Pickleball is a highly social sport, and any event that brings people together, especially in a positive environment focused on people’s enjoyment of a shared activity, can create a sense of community and belongingness. 

6) Improved sleep

Physical activities like pickleball naturally tire out the body, which can aid in the initiation and maintenance of sleep. Regular pickleball play can help regulate sleep patterns, ensuring individuals get the rest they need. This is vital, as a good night’s sleep is tied to better mood regulation, reduced stress levels, and enhanced cognitive function.

Fancy trying pickleball?

Pickleball is an enriching sport that offers many mental health benefits for those who enjoy playing. It combines physical movement, strategic thinking, and social interaction, making it a fantastic tool for mental wellbeing.

If you fancy trying the sport, you can find your local club in the UK here, in the US here, in Canada here and in Australia here.

Photo by Lesli Whitecotton