Staying Active and Insured: How to Play Pickleball Safely and Healthy

HealthPlusLife Tips: Your Reliable Health Insurance Partner

how to play pickleball
August 29, 2023 | Johanna Karlsson

It’s the fastest-growing sport in the United States, and even if you don’t play it, chances are you know one of the nearly 5 million people who do. What are we talking about? Pickleball, of course. This easy-to-learn sport takes elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong to make something entirely new — and the combination has been a resounding hit since it was invented as a game for kids in Washington state in 1965. So, you might be among those wondering how to play pickleball — and how to get the health benefits of this sport while staying protected and safe. The good news is that some preparation and picking up the right equipment can make all the difference, and this sport’s physical and mental benefits can be so worth the effort. Let’s dive into this popular game.

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The Rise of Pickleball: A Fun Way to Stay Fit

In recent years, a new sport has been making waves in recreational clubs, community centers, and even driveways across the nation — pickleball. The catchy name might bring a smile to your face, but the game’s rapid growth in popularity is a testament to its appeal and health benefits. When it comes to this sport, it’s safe to say that players don’t have to worry about finding themselves in a pickle — it’s a win-win hobby to pick up after 60.  You’re practically guaranteed to have a ball.

For the uninitiated, pickleball is a paddle sport that borrows elements from tennis, badminton, and table tennis. Played on a court about a quarter of the size of a tennis court, participants use solid paddles to volley a perforated plastic ball, similar to a Wiffle ball, over a net. The game can be played in singles or doubles format, making it versatile and adaptable for various players.

The surge in pickleball’s popularity can be attributed to several factors. Its rules are relatively simple, making it accessible to newcomers. The smaller court size also means less ground to cover, making it gentler on the joints than in sports like tennis. This accessibility has made it a favorite among older adults looking for a low-impact sport. However, it’s not just for the senior community; players of all ages have embraced pickleball for its competitive yet social nature. For those ready to dive into the world of pickleball, having the security of a comprehensive health and life insurance plan with HealthPlusLife will ensure they remain protected while enjoying all the benefits this sport has to offer.

Essential Equipment to Begin Your Pickleball Journey

Embarking on a new sport or physical activity is always an exhilarating experience, filled with the anticipation of fun-filled games and the tangible benefits of staying active. As with any sport, pickleball requires specific gear to ensure players can fully engage in the game safely and effectively. Here’s a rundown of the essential equipment to kickstart your pickleball adventure.

  • Paddles: Unlike tennis rackets, pickleball paddles are solid, without strings, and are usually made of lightweight composite materials like graphite or aluminum. When selecting a paddle, consider factors like weight, grip size, and material. A paddle’s weight influences the player’s control and power, while the grip size should comfortably fit your hand to avoid strain.
  • Balls: Pickleball balls are distinct with their perforated design, resembling a Wiffle ball. They come in different varieties for outdoor and indoor play. The primary difference is the size and number of holes, affecting the ball’s flight and bounce.

Your attire can significantly influence your gameplay and safety, so don’t forget to pick up proper clothing and footwear when you’re getting ready to dive into pickleball. Let’s explore the basics:

  • Footwear: Invest in shoes that provide good grip and support. While there are shoes specifically designed for pickleball, tennis or court shoes can also be a good fit. They provide lateral support and have non-marking soles suitable for court surfaces.
  • Clothing: Opt for comfortable, breathable athletic wear. Moisture-wicking materials can help keep you dry during intense games, and many players choose shorts or skirts with pockets to store an extra ball.
  • Eye Guards: Pickleball can be a fast-paced game, and stray balls can pose a risk. Eye guards or protective glasses can shield your eyes from potential injuries.
  • Knee and Elbow Pads: For those who play aggressively or are prone to diving for shots, protective pads can prevent scrapes and bruises. They can also offer additional support to joints, minimizing the risk of strains.

Starting your pickleball journey with the right equipment not only enhances your gameplay experience but also emphasizes safety, ensuring that you can enjoy the game for many years to come. As always, having a robust health and life insurance plan with HealthPlusLife provides an added layer of security as you engage in this exciting sport.

Understanding the Basic Rules of Pickleball

play pickleball after 60

Pickleball, a fascinating blend of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton, has surged in popularity due to its simplicity and inclusivity for players of all ages. If you’re considering diving into this sport, understanding its basic rules will help you enjoy the game to its fullest. Let’s break down some foundational elements.

Court Dimensions and Scoring

Pickleball is typically played on a court that measures 20 feet wide by 44 feet long. This court is divided into several zones, including the non-volley zone (or the “kitchen”), which is 7 feet on both sides of the net. The net height is about 34 inches in the center and 36 inches on the ends.

Scoring in pickleball is unique. Only the serving side can score points. Games are usually played to 11 points, but players must win by at least two points. In doubles, both players on the serving side get a chance to serve and score before the opponents get the serve.

Serving and Volley Rules

Players must serve underhand, striking the ball below the waist level. The serve is initiated from behind the baseline, and the ball must land in the opposite diagonal service box. On the serve, the ball should clear the non-volley zone (not landing in the kitchen).

Volleying (hitting the ball before it bounces) is permitted throughout the court, except in the non-volley zone. Stepping into or touching this zone while volleying a ball results in a fault.

Double and Single Play Variations

In doubles play, teamwork is crucial. After serving from the right-hand side and scoring a point, the server then serves from the left-hand side. The serve shifts to the partner when a fault occurs, and it eventually goes to the opponent after both team members have lost their serve.

In singles play, the game’s rhythm changes a bit. Players serve from the right-hand side when their score is even and from the left when it’s odd. There’s more court to cover, so agility and anticipation are key.

Health Benefits of Playing Pickleball

Pickleball is a sport, so it’s not all that much of a stretch to realize that playing it can carry some nice health benefits. Let’s explore just some of the benefits that make this sport a fun way to add more physical fitness to your life.

  • Cardiovascular Fitness: Continuous movement, volleying, and quick bursts of speed can help improve heart health.
  • Muscle Tone: The diverse movements, from lunges to twists, can help tone various muscle groups, improving overall strength.
  • Flexibility: The game requires a fair amount of stretching and reaching, promoting better flexibility.
  • Mental Health: Engaging in a sport is not just physically rewarding. The social interactions, teamwork, and the joys of a game well-played can boost mental well-being.
  • Balance & Coordination: Precision shots and quick reflexes can enhance balance and hand-eye coordination.

Safety First: Minimizing Risks While Playing

Playing any sport or engaging in physical activity comes with inherent risks. But with the right precautions, these risks can be substantially minimized.

Starting with a gentle warm-up not only prepares your muscles and joints but also helps increase the blood flow to those areas, reducing the risk of injury. Before playing pickleball, spend at least 10 minutes doing light cardiovascular exercises like jogging in place, followed by stretching exercises targeting the main muscle groups. After playing, cool down by slowly decreasing the intensity of your movements and finish with stretches to aid muscle recovery and flexibility.

Your body often gives signals when it’s getting stressed or overworked. Symptoms like pain, excessive fatigue, dizziness, or shortness of breath should never be ignored. If any of these signs appear, it’s essential to take a break and, if they persist, consult a medical professional.

Hydration is crucial, especially during physical exertion. Drink water before, during, and after playing to replace the fluids lost through sweat. If playing outdoors, wear sunscreen with a high SPF, wear a hat, and choose lightweight, long-sleeved clothing to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

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The Link Between Physical Activity and Insurance

Physical activity is vital to our overall health, and insurance companies recognize and reward this. Many insurance companies offer reduced premiums for those who lead a healthier lifestyle. Regular physical activity, such as playing pickleball, can be a determining factor in these reductions as it often translates to fewer health issues and claims.

Active people may find that their life insurance premiums are more favorable, given the general understanding that they may have a lower risk of chronic diseases and conditions associated with inactivity. However, it’s also essential to disclose the nature and intensity of physical activities when seeking a policy.

Specific health insurance policies include provisions or add-ons for sports-related injuries. If you’re an avid pickleball player or participate in other sports, it’s worth exploring these provisions to ensure comprehensive coverage.

HealthPlusLife’s Role in Supporting Your Active Lifestyle

At HealthPlusLife, we’re more than just an insurance provider; we’re partners in your journey toward a healthier, more active life. Staying active is a commendable choice for overall well-being. As you enjoy the exciting game of pickleball, HealthPlusLife is here to ensure you’re protected and insured every step of the way.

We recognize the dedication and discipline it takes to maintain an active lifestyle. Our specialized policies for active people provide benefits that cater to your unique needs, from covering sports-related injuries to offering wellness rewards. Whether you’re a pickleball enthusiast or a fitness novice, we’ll make sure you’re safeguarded at every step of your journey. Give us a call at 888-828-5064 or contact us online and let’s get started.

FAQs About How to Play Pickleball Safely and Healthily

Why is pickleball recommended as a healthy activity?

Pickleball is a low-impact sport, making it suitable for people of all ages. It provides cardiovascular exercise, improves muscle tone, enhances balance, and promotes mental well-being due to its social nature. Moreover, its easy-to-learn rules make it an accessible choice for many.

What safety precautions should I take when playing pickleball?

Safety is paramount in any sport. For pickleball, ensure you:

  • Wear appropriate footwear with good grip and support.
  • Use protective gear such as eye guards, and knee, and elbow pads, especially if playing aggressively.
  • Warm up properly before playing and cool down after to prevent muscle strains.
  • Stay hydrated and avoid playing in extreme weather conditions.

How does playing pickleball relate to health insurance?

Engaging in regular physical activity like pickleball can lower health risks, which influence your health insurance premiums. Being active and staying healthy can sometimes lead to favorable insurance conditions. However, it’s also essential to be insured to cover any unforeseen injuries or accidents that might occur during play.

Are there specific insurance policies that cater to active people?

Yes, HealthPlusLife offers a range of policies tailored for people leading an active lifestyle. These policies might cover sports-related injuries or provide other benefits suitable for those regularly engaging in physical activities like pickleball.

How can I ensure I’m playing pickleball in a manner that’s healthy for my joints and muscles?

Here are some tips:

  • Invest in quality equipment, including shoes that provide adequate support.
  • Regularly change your pickleball balls, as worn-out balls might not bounce predictably.
  • Attend beginner classes or clinics to ensure you’re using the correct technique.
  • Listen to your body and rest when needed. Overexertion can lead to injuries.

Can I play pickleball if I have a pre-existing health condition?

While pickleball is generally safe for most, if you have a pre-existing health condition, it’s always advisable to consult with a medical professional before starting any new sport or exercise regimen.

How can staying active with pickleball impact my life insurance with HealthPlusLife?

Leading an active and healthy lifestyle can sometimes positively impact life insurance policies, potentially leading to more favorable terms or premiums. Always discuss with your HealthPlusLife representative for specifics related to your policy.

Johanna Karlsson
Johanna Karlsson is a veteran health and life insurance professional licensed in 50 states. She relocated from the countryside in the south of Sweden and has not looked back. After coming to the United States to attend university, she gained her degree in Public Relations. She brought her public relations skills to a local international health insurance where she discovered a new passion in insurance. After years with that company, Johanna now joins HealthPlusLife to help build a team of licensed insurance agents ready to meet your insurance needs.