Finding Joy in the Game of Pickleball
By Mike Branon

Excerpted and adapted from The Joy of Pickleball by Mike Branon, available on Amazon or at


Humans love to play.

Its one of the things that makes life worth living. However, as we get older, our options for playtime can become limited to less demanding pursuits. We do need to make some concessions to age, but for many of us, the fire to compete still burns brightly. Were not ready to make shuffleboard and jigsaw puzzles the most demanding activities we take on, but our bodies may not be able to take the pounding from running, soccer, tennis, and other high-impact sports that we used to love. What to do?

For more and more of us, pickleball has come to the rescue. It can be played at high levels, demanding athleticism, and skillful technique. It can also be played recreationally and not as seriously, allowing the less experienced or less mobile player an opportunity to enjoy relaxed competition and have fun while getting some great exercise in the bargain.

Getting old doesn’t mean giving up… it means finding creative ways to stay in the game. Enter pickleball… the Goldilocks of senior sports.

Its not as hard on the body as tennis but it gets the heart revved up more than golf. You may not be able to run like you used to, but you can still move around quite a bit in short bursts on a pickleball court. As Goldilocks would say, Pickleball is just right.”

What is it that is so addictive about this game? Is it the competition, the amazing social connections, or the ability to enjoy yourself even if you were picked last for kickball back in the day? Its all those things, and much more.

Your social life becomes much richer when you take up pickleball. Your circle of friends expands, and you look forward to each day that brings you activity, competition, and new relationships on and off the court. As we age, we need connection with others more than ever. Our changing world has seen an explosion of online connection, but it often comes at the expense of real human interaction. Pickleball puts you side by side and face to face with real people. For many older players who have limited workplace and family connections, its our primary social outlet. Its hard to put a value on this vibrant person to person” dynamic. Mix in the rush of mood-boosting endorphins that exercise provides and its little wonder why we become addicted to our happy little game.

In my new book, The Joy of Pickleball, The Definitive Instructional Guide for the Senior Player, my goal is to help seniors play better, healthier and happier. If you’re new to the game, you will find everything you need to get started and play the right way from Day 1. If you’re an experienced pickler, I offer written and video instruction to help you play your best and reaffirm why this sport has become such an enjoyable part of our lives.

From a health perspective, pickleball improves hand-eye coordination, balance and cardiovascular health… and the more you move now, the more you move later. It also challenges us mentally as well as physically. As we age, challenge keeps our minds and bodies engaged and functioning at their best. Pickleball is also a great connector. It widens your circle of friends and gets you off the couch and out into the world.

As a baby boomer, your future may not be full of boundless possibilities as it was when you were young, but the autumn of life is often more suited to who you really are. To the extent possible, you have created a life that reflects your values. Ideally, you have surrounded yourself with good people who lift you up rather than competing with those around you for status, attention, and money. Your motivations have naturally shifted from future-oriented goals to present moment joys—a walk in the forest, a sunset at the beach, playtime with a grandchild—without the distractions and demands of making a living or raising a family.

You may not be able to run a marathon, but you can play pickleball, competing on your terms in an environment that suits your needs in this autumn of your life. When you are on the court with friends, you are thrust into the present moment—you cant simultaneously worry and hit a winning volley. Your time on the court can be the perfect blend of challenge and fun, free from mental chatter and worldly concerns—fully absorbed in the joyfulness of play. And play” keeps you young at heart. Pickleball is just a game. . . but so is life. Play it well.


About the Author

Mike Branon is a non-professional pickleball player, but that hasn’t stopped him from competing, coaching, and writing about pickleball. His varied background in business, sports, health, and psychology enables him to write with some credibility about how to succeed in any venture and enjoy the journey along the way. He lives in Carlsbad, California with his wife, Diane, and his trusty and occasionally obedient goldendoodle, Cabo.

Go to for features, health tips, blogs, interviews, and strange musings about getting the most out of life and your game. 


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