LIFE LESSONS COME FROM ALL PLACES—EVEN UNEXPECTED PLACES, LIKE THE PICKLEBALL COURT.
Playing the sport of pickleball brings a lot of benefits, which include exercise (and the physical benefits that come with it), stress relief, mental health, and social benefits. The sport of pickleball is as much a social game as it is a physical game, as pickleball has a unique way of bringing people together for a common experience and, oftentimes, a good laugh. Whether it is the small court, the fun nature, or the likable sound of the pickleball hitting a paddle, pickleball has yet another benefit—making it easier to talk to strangers.
Pickleball Courts, Where Strangers Become Quick Friends
I came across an article in The Atlantic by Joe Keohane, titled “The Surprising Benefits of Talking to Strangers,” which is based on his book, The Power of Strangers: The Benefits of Connecting in a Suspicious World. The takeaway from the article is simply stated in the title – there are surprising benefits in talking to strangers – which has been well-documented by a variety of studies and other research:
- Psychologist Gillian Sandstrom and her Ph.D. supervisor at the University of British Columbia found that talking to your barista improved your mood and experience, as well as increased your sense of belonging and community.
- Psychologist Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder found that passengers that spoke with strangers on public transportation enjoyed their ride much more than those who did not hold a conversation.
- Further, each of Sandstrom (along with Erica Boothby), Epley, and Schroeder did a second experiment that all showed, in different experiments, that both the person initiating the conversation and the person on the other side of the conversation had similar positive reactions.
Despite these positive reactions, society generally teaches “stranger danger” and many in society have a fear of speaking with strangers. I, myself, am certainly guilty of this. Although I try to put myself out there, my nature is to be introverted, quiet, and reserved. However, one place that is easy to open up and to meet, greet, and speak with complete strangers, is the pickleball court.
On the pickleball court, starting a conversation is as easy as “0-0-2” or “do you want to play a game?” It is this social side that makes the sport of pickleball so impactful and changes pickleball from a sport to something that, as we say at Pickler, is “more than a sport!” It is also what keeps the community so welcoming and what keeps the sport so addictive.
So, next time you are on the pickleball court, invite a new “stranger” to play. You might be surprised at how easy it is to make a new friend and how your mood and experience will improve because of it.
LESSONS FROM THE PICKLEBALL COURT
Read past blogs from the "Lessons from the Pickleball Court" series:
- Lessons from the Pickleball Court: Integrity Is Everything
- Lessons from the Pickleball Court: Go Down Swinging
- Lessons from the Pickleball Court: Read the Room (or the Pickleball Court)
- Lessons from the Pickleball Court: Always Be Prepared
- Lessons from the Pickleball Court: Referees Are Impactful
- Lessons from the Pickleball Court: Never Judge a “Pickleball Book” by Its Cover
- Lessons from the Pickleball Court: Encourage the Kids to Play
- Lessons from the Pickleball Court: Learn to Share “Small Spaces”
What lesson have you learned from the sport of pickleball? Share with us in the comments below, or reach out to me personally via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.