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Introduction to Pickleball as a Team Building Activity

In recent years, companies have been exploring unique and engaging ways to foster teamwork and camaraderie among their employees, especially as they search for ways to engage a hybrid workforce with several generations and significant diversity. One activity that has gained popularity as a team-building event is pickleball. What is pickleball, and why is it considered a great team building activity?
Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It is played on a court with a modified tennis net and uses a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. The game is easy to learn, making it accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels.
The fast-paced nature of pickleball promotes teamwork and communication among players. Working together to strategize and execute shots fosters a sense of unity and cooperation. Additionally, the game requires players to think on their feet, enhancing problem-solving skills and adaptability. These aspects make pickleball an ideal team building activity. In addition, because some team members may never have played while others are proficient, the game shows the value of patience, mentoring, and keeping the big picture.

Pickleball team building provides a platform for employees to interact in a physical, fun environment. It breaks down hierarchical barriers and encourages open dialogue and camaraderie among team members. The game allows individuals to showcase their unique strengths and talents while also learning from one another.
And employees love it!

“The result from the 2-hour session was (i) a lot of laughs, (ii) a lot of interaction (as the teams were constantly mixing), (iii) team building that will carry back to the workplace, and (iv) once the group picture from the courts was shared around the Slack universe of the office, a lot of jealous coworkers that want to hit the pickleball courts next time.” – The Pickler[1]

Some companies are actually installing pickleball courts in their office space and encouraging employees to use them during working hours or after hours.
An example is Room & Board: The Minneapolis-based furniture retailer has an indoor pickleball court in its office building, allowing employees to play during breaks and offering a fun and active way to engage with colleagues[2].

Pickleball provides an opportunity to enhance essential skills such as decision-making, conflict resolution, and strategic thinking in a fast, fun way. With a facilitated debrief of the activity, employees can reflect on these skills in a fun and engaging way, which can then be transferred back to the workplace.

Benefits of Using Pickleball for Corporate Team Building

1. Enhanced Communication: Pickleball requires constant communication between team members to coordinate shots and strategies. This promotes effective communication skills among employees, which can improve collaboration and productivity in the workplace.
2. Improved Teamwork: Pickleball fosters a sense of unity and camaraderie within a team. By working together towards a common goal, employees learn the value of collaboration and develop a stronger sense of teamwork.
3. Increased Morale: Engaging in physical activity through pickleball can boost employee morale and overall well-being. Exercise releases endorphins, which can reduce stress and improve mood. A happy and energized workforce is more likely to be motivated and productive.
4. Well Being and Stress Relief: The fast-paced, yet enjoyable nature of pickleball provides an outlet for employees to relieve stress. Engaging in physical activity helps reduce tension and promotes mental well-being.
5. Conflict Resolution: Pickleball team building provides a safe and controlled environment for employees to practice conflict resolution skills. Learning to resolve conflicts on the court can translate to better conflict management in the workplace.

When and Who Should Participate in Pickleball Team Building?

Pickleball team building can be conducted at various times throughout the year, depending on the company’s schedule and preferences. It can be organized as a one-time event or integrated into regular team building initiatives. The key is to ensure that all team members have the opportunity to participate.
Pickleball is a versatile sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels. Whether young or old, athletically inclined or not, everyone can contribute to a pickleball team. This inclusivity makes it an ideal activity for corporate team building, as it allows employees from different departments and backgrounds to come together.
Moreover, pickleball team building can be particularly beneficial for newly formed teams or teams facing challenges such as communication issues or conflicts. By engaging in a shared activity, team members can develop a deeper understanding of one another and build stronger relationships.

“Bringing your employees together with an activity that all of them can equally participate in will allow all of them to feel like they are truly peers. Pickleball can be both highly competitive and strategically team-focused, causing its players to be driven to perform well as a group effort.” – Pickleball Union[3]

How to Organize a Pickleball Team Building Event

Organizing a pickleball team building event involves several key steps to ensure its success. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to organize a pickleball team building event:
1. Assess the Interest: Gauge the interest and availability of employees to participate in a pickleball team building event. Conduct surveys or informal polls to determine the level of enthusiasm and potential attendance.
2. Secure a Certified Instructor and Team Building Facilitator: Look for professional teams that are comprised of both a Pickleball instructor and a corporate trainer specializing in values, norms and productivity. Choose vendors that take a holistic approach vs only a win-lose mentality. That way, no employee feels diminished or “small” after the event, no matter how they perform.
3. Arrange for Equipment: Determine if your vendor provides equipment, or you need to rent based on the number of players.
4. Work with your vendor to create Teams: Divide participants into teams, keeping in mind the balance of skill levels and personalities. Encourage diversity within teams to promote collaboration and learning.
5. Design a Schedule: Plan out the event schedule, including warm-up activities and agreement on how to treat each other, practice sessions, friendly matches, and breaks. Allow time for participants to socialize and interact during breaks.
6. Provide Instruction: If some participants are unfamiliar with pickleball, consider hiring a pickleball instructor to provide basic training and guidance. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and can enjoy the game to its fullest.
7. Foster a Friendly yet Competitive Spirit: Organize friendly competitions or mini tournaments to add excitement and encourage teamwork. Award prizes or recognition to the winning teams to further motivate participants.
8. Gather Feedback: After the event, collect feedback from participants to assess their experience and gather insights for future pickleball team building events. This feedback can help improve future initiatives and tailor them to the specific needs of the team.

Where to Play Pickleball for Team Building Activities

Your team building facilitator will have experience in several options for good venues to play pickleball for team building activities. This could include local recreation centers, private sports facilities offering pickleball courts for rent, outdoor parks in your area that have designated pickleball courts, indoor sports complexes with multiple court spaces, and others such as hotels in the area.

Results of Using Pickleball for Corporate Team Building

The use of pickleball for corporate team building can yield several positive outcomes for both employees and the organization as a whole. Here are some of the results you can expect from incorporating pickleball into your team building initiatives:
1. Enhanced Collaboration: Pickleball promotes collaboration and teamwork among employees, leading to improved cooperation and synergy within teams. This can result in more efficient work processes and increased productivity.
2. Stronger Relationships: Engaging in pickleball team building activities allows employees to form stronger relationships with their colleagues. This can foster a positive work environment and a sense of belonging within the organization.
3. Improved Communication: The constant communication required in pickleball encourages employees to communicate effectively and develop better listening skills. This can translate to clearer communication within the workplace, reducing misunderstandings and conflicts.
4. Leadership Development: By participating in a pickleball team, employees have the opportunity to develop and showcase their leadership skills. This can lead to the identification of emerging leaders within the organization and provide a platform for their growth and development.
5. Increased Employee Engagement: Engaging in physical activity through pickleball team building can boost employee engagement. Employees who feel valued and connected are more likely to be motivated and committed to their work.

How to Maximize the Results of Pickleball Team Building

To maximize the results of pickleball team building, consider the following strategies:
1. Follow Up: After the pickleball team building event, encourage teams to continue playing pickleball together or engage in other team building activities. This helps maintain the momentum and reinforces the lessons learned during the event.
2. Provide Resources: Offer resources such as pickleball tutorials, strategy guides, or access to pickleball equipment for employees to continue practicing and improving their skills. This shows your commitment to their development and encourages ongoing engagement.
3. Recognize Achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of teams and individuals who demonstrate exceptional teamwork or skill improvement. This recognition can motivate others to strive for excellence and actively participate in future team building activities.
4. Incorporate Feedback: Continuously seek feedback from employees regarding their experience with pickleball team building. Use this feedback to refine and improve future initiatives, ensuring they align with the evolving needs and preferences of your team.

Conclusion: The Lasting Benefits of Using Pickleball for Corporate Team Building

Pickleball has emerged as a popular team building activity for corporations due to its numerous benefits. By incorporating pickleball into your team building program, you can enhance communication, foster teamwork, boost morale, and develop essential skills among your employees. Whether organizing a one-time event or integrating pickleball into regular activities, the lasting benefits are undeniable.

“Playing Pickleball can be a fantastic way to build workplace relationships and promote socializing among employees. Because Pickleball is a team sport, and as such, it requires players to work together and communicate effectively to achieve their goals.” – Recruiting Awesome[7]

So, why not take your team from the office to the court and experience the power of pickleball for corporate team building? Embrace this dynamic and engaging activity to strengthen relationships, improve collaboration, and create a positive and productive work environment.
Are you ready to unleash the potential of your team? Contact us today to explore how pickleball team building can transform your organization!