Is Kickball The New Pickleball?
The nostalgia is real.
Kickball might have been a mandatory gym class activity when you were a kid, but get this: It’s quickly becoming something people actually want to do on a Saturday morning. With over 395 million views on TikTok, adult kickball leagues are more popular than ever.
Similar to other gym class sports — like pickleball and dodgeball — kickball is definitely having a moment, says Ash Schwedt, a member of the OutLoud Sports She/They Kickball League in Los Angeles, California. Kickball has so many benefits, but topping the list is that it’s an excuse to have fun as a grown-up. Another is that it’s super accessible. Read: You don’t have to be sporty to play.
Kickball is very easy to learn, too, according to Melissa Boyd, a NASM-certified personal trainer and Tempo coach. “The rules are simple, so you can get good pretty quick,” she tells Bustle. “And the game is as fun as it is physical.” It’s perfectly OK to keep it casual, but you can also take things up a notch to make it more competitive — and even take your team all the way to national tournaments, Schwedt says. The choice is yours.
If that sounds like a good time, you’re in luck, as adult kickball leagues are everywhere. “Most major cities, and even smaller college towns, have kickball leagues,” Schwedt says. “When you register, you get to select your skill level and preferred position so you can be placed appropriately.” From there, it’s all about reveling in the game. Ahead, all the benefit you’ll reap when you play a game of kickball, the sport that’s coming for pickleball as the trendiest way to stay active outside this summer.
All The Benefits Of Kickball
First, the basics: A typical kickball game takes place on a baseball diamond with two teams. There are fielders covering the bases and outfield, a pitcher who tosses a bouncy ball, and someone who steps into the kicking box to kick. After the kick, the fielders try to tag the runner out.
As you play, you’ll run, jump, kick, and throw, which is why this game is an easy way to add more movement into your week. According to Schwedt, kickball is similar to baseball or softball in that it doesn’t require a ton of endurance, but there are little bursts of cardio. You have to sprint to run to the base, but Schwedt says you don’t have to be a cardio queen in order to play.
If you decide to turn the game into more of a workout, Boyd suggests playing in the outfield. That’s where you’ll have to run to catch long kicks and then hustle to throw the ball back towards the infield. Because it requires lots of running, stopping, and starting, Boyd suggests warming up before you play to ward off injuries.
The game will also train some muscles, Schwedt says. As you gear up to kick, your quads and calves engage, which in turn helps promote better balance and coordination.
Your glutes and hamstrings get in on the action as you run the bases, and your core gets a good workout, too. “Many think you have to have upper body strength to throw the ball effectively, but it is actually a core exercise,” Schwedt says. “Players with the furthest throws are engaging their core the entire time.”
To get stronger, Schwedt recommends working your leg and core muscles off the field — think lunges, squats, deadlifts, etc. — so that you can bring your A game.
Of course, one of the biggest draws is the social aspect. Kickball is a great excuse to leave your home, get out in the sun, and meet new people, which is especially handy if you just moved to a new city. “Kickball is a great way to make friends,” Schwedt tells Bustle. “I have never participated in a sport with so much camaraderie and team spirit. Because teams range in roster from 12 to 20 people, it's a perfect size to build relationships.”
It’s also an ideal way to blow off some steam. “Depending on your league, games can get really rowdy,” Boyd says. There’s nothing like kicking a ball to release a little stress, but the game has a way of drawing you in as well. Even when you’re on the sidelines, “you still need to be focused on what's going on,” Schwedt adds. “It means you can't let your mind wander and have to stay present and ready.”
This is why kickball is such a fan fave. Whether you’re kicking the ball, running the bases, or cheering from the dugout, it’s bound to be a good time.
Upham, K. (2020). Adults Want to Play Too: Feasibility of an Adult Physical Activity Program Designed to Maximize Enjoyment. J Phys Act Health. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2018-0306.
Ash Schwedt, kickball player with OutLoud Sports She/They Kickball League
Melissa Boyd, NASM-certified personal trainer, Tempo coach