Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Kinesiology and Health Science

Committee Chair(s)

Brennan Thompson


Brennan Thompson


Dave Bolton


Chris Dakin


Objective: This study aimed to examine the effects of a novel, small-court racquet sport, Pickleball, on lower body muscle power and functional performance of older adults, aged 60-75.

Background: Physical inactivity in the older adult population is associated with increased risks of falls, chronic illness, and decreased quality of life. Sports participation may have multiple benefits for improving these risks and have the added benefit of increased adherence among older adults. Pickleball, a popular new sport, is a small-court racquet sport that is moderate intensity, widely accessible, cost effective, and enjoyed by many older adults across the nation.

Methods: Five participants performed three isokinetic maximum voluntary contractions at 240°·s-1 for the knee extensor’s muscle group and three vertical jumps for measuring knee extensor power and lower body function, respectively, at baseline and after participating in 6 weeks of Pickleball play. Pickleball sessions were 1hour and occurred twice per week. Variables included mean knee extensor power and countermovement vertical jump height.

Results: The intervention resulted in moderate gains in knee extensor power (18.7% increases) and small gains in vertical jump height (7.5% increases). The effect sizes were 0.63 and 0.17 for the knee extensor power and jump height variables, respectively.

Conclusions: These findings offer some support showing that 6 weeks of Pickleball participation may elicit some modest gains, in a relatively short duration, for lower body function which could help older adults meet physical activity recommendations and help reduce the burdens of dysfunction on a long-term basis with a sport-based model that may offer advantages of sustainable physical activity. However, more work is needed to corroborate these findings with larger sample sizes and longer duration interventions.