Pickleball – Dubuque is serving it up

By Dubuque Physical Therapy Team

November 16, 2022

If you haven’t heard of pickleball, you might be behind the times. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, pickleball was the fastest-growing sport in the United States from 2019 to 2021 with an estimated 5 million people playing it. Pickleball offers a great workout, great community and great fun. Read on to find out more about this sport and how to get involved with it in the Dubuque Area.

This year, I have had the opportunity to work with a few pickleball players in physical therapy. Prior to working with them I knew a little about the game, had played it a few times myself and knew that it was growing in popularity, especially in the older adult population. What I didn’t know is that there is a Pickleball Club in Dubuque that gets together a few times every week to play. I had the opportunity to work with one of those players in physical therapy, and she invited me to one of their get togethers to educate the group on the importance of a warm up and cool down. I even got to practice those things with the members.

Let’s back it up. How about we start with a little background on what pickleball is.

Pickleball is like small scale tennis, or maybe like giant ping pong. Either way, it is fun, fast paced and great exercise. You can play singles or doubles pickleball, with each player holding a paddle and using a ball similar to a wiffleball. The rules follow closely to those of badminton.

Pickleball is beneficial to your health in many ways:

  • challenges your cardiovascular system – you will probably be breathing heavy after a good pickleball match!
  • requires flexibility in your spine and hips – that is why it is always a good idea to perform a good warm up and cool down.
  • works on your reflexes – because the pickleball court is small, it requires a quick reaction time to reach the ball before it hits the court.
  • it is a social game – being social and exercising are both so good for your mental health!

Like any other sport, if you don’t have the appropriate fitness level as your baseline, you are more likely to end up with an injury. Use a good, dynamic warm up (like the one I taught the Dubuque Pickleball Club) including marches, leg swings, spinal rotations, etc. to help reduce injuries. It is also to ease into it, playing for 30 minutes or less the first time and then gradually increasing the amount of time you play. To be a successful pickleball player, you’ll need good balance, spine and hip rotation, good leg strength and fast reflexes. All of those things are things a physical therapist can help you improve!

So where can I play??

In nice weather, Dubuque has a few outdoor pickleball courts. There are courts at Veterans Memorial Park near Wahlert High School and at Flora Park. In the winter, the options are a little more limited. The Peosta Community Center has courts that can be reserved 1 week in advance for non members and 2 weeks in advance for members. There is a daily fee for non members. Find out more on their website: https://www.cityofpeosta.org/community-centre/wellness-amenities. 

So, don’t snooze on pickle ball! Whether it’s outside during nice weather or indoors this winter, pickle ball is a great sport for people of all ages to help maintain your fitness and stay active!