Undisputably, pickleball is fun. It features more movement than ping pong but fewer wind-sprints than a full-blown tennis match. Pickleball is a great cardiovascular workout–but exactly how many calories can you burn playing pickleball? Can you substitute pickleball for a day of running or a day at the gym?
A pickleball game, depending on intensity, can burn between 8 and 11 calories per minute. Regular running burns about 11 calories per minute. So yes, pickleball is an effective substitute per minute of calorie burning to regular old running!
How long does Pickleball take?
The USAPA (yes, that is the United States of America Pickleball Association) recommends that when running a tournament you play matches at the best 2 of 3 games to 11 points. This will give you an average time per match of 50 minutes. If you play a full set of pickleball, you’ll play for about an hour. If you play two sets, you’re looking at 2 hours.
A lot of those calorie-burning and aerobic exercise stats will depend on the type of pickleball you’re playing. If it’s a casual rally with a friend, your heartrate might stay low and you won’t take a ton of steps. If you’re playing a heated, competitive match with a good friend–well then expect the sweat to pour, the heart to race, and the blood to pump.
Calorie burning in Tennis and Pickleball
Tennis is a close cousin to pickleball, and there are more good stats for tennis than there are for pickleball. An article estimates that a 150-pound person will burn about 414 calories in mid-level singles tennis, and a 200-pound person will burn about 524 calories in the same hour. Pickleball’s smaller court size is more reminiscent of the ground covered during doubles tennis. During doubles tennis, that 150-pound person will burn 288 calories and the 200-pound person will burn 365 calories.
It is estimated that for pickleball specifically, a 160-pound person can burn 250 calories during 30 minutes of casual play and 350 calories during 30 minutes of aggressive play. A 200-pound person could burn 350 and 475 calories during the same time and play styles, respectively. The same article suggests that a casual game of pickleball will give you around 4,000 to 5,000 steps over an hour of play, or 6,000 to 7,000 against more competitive opponents
How many calories does a pickleball game burn?
Based on these stats, you can expect a standard best of 3 pickleball set (2 or 3 games to 11) to take about an hour and burn about 500-700 calories, depending on the intensity of play.
A 150 person will burn about 11 calories a minute while running. At the lowest end of pickleball calorie burning, you’ll burn about 8.3 calories per minute. A high-intensity game has a higher calorie per minute burn than regular old running.
Most of the pickleball’s calorie-burning power will depend on the pace of play. If you’re interested in burning calories, kick up the intensity! Play singles pickleball with a competitive friend and really run around the court. Chase every ball, let that heart rate soar and drink plenty of water!
Alright. Nothing left to say than bring out your best pickleball paddle and get the game going. It's both healthy and fun.