People & Community

Pickleball Fun Popping Up at the Louisville Humana Neighborhood Center

Woman playing pickleball at Humana Neighborhood Center

Pickleball – have you heard of it?

We’re guessing you have. These days it seems like everyone is playing pickleball, and its popularity hasn’t missed the Humana Neighborhood Center (HNC) in Humana’s hometown Louisville, Ky. Pickleball is a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. There’s a little something for everybody. It’s an inclusive sport that promotes active engagement and boosts social connection.

Being physically and socially active is important for better health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular activity helps to strengthen bones and muscles, reduce the risk of falling, manage weight and improve brain health. A 2022 study suggests that social activities can reduce the risk of developing dementia.

The HNC in Louisville began hosting pickleball games at the Center four years ago with a full size pickleball court mapped out in the activity room. With blue painter’s tape marking the court boundaries on the floor, and tables and chairs that can easily be rolled and removed from the room, all that’s needed is to set up the net and—boom—you have an instant pop-up pickleball court.

The Louisville HNC doors are open for all, and Humana members and non-members are welcome to join the fun. Gametime in Louisville is scheduled most Wednesday afternoons. With the red-hot popularity of the sport, the availability of weekly pickleball is a gift to the community.

Fans of pickleball rave about the benefits of the gameplay. The smaller court means less running, compared to tennis or other sports that require more movement. Lucy Lopez, a dedicated pickleball player and Humana member said, “I’ve never been athletic, but I almost feel athletic doing it. I feel like it’s something I can move and do.”

The light, airy whiffleball takes its time in the air, allowing more time for players to react. Combine that with the low-impact nature of the game and there’s no wonder why members of the Humana Neighborhood Center can’t get enough of it. 

Glenn Thomas, a Humana member who recently started coming to the Center comments, “I really enjoy meeting different people and the movement of the game. Just the opportunity to exercise and play with friends is great.”

The social aspect of pickleball is undeniable. It’s a game played in doubles, which encourages teamwork and allows for meeting new friends. Add a little healthy competition and pickleball becomes a great way for folks to feel a sense of belonging and working together.

Susan Dyer, a longtime Humana member, started playing pickleball at the Louisville HNC in early 2023. Susan notes, “I like that it’s informal fun that brings people together and leaves room for lots of laughter while playing.” The low-pressure environment encourages members to engage, but without the pressure of joining a sports club.

The sport combines light cardio work, requires balance and coordination, and helps to maintain hand-eye coordination—a skill tied to independence as we age. Susan notes, “I like learning new skills. I’ve finally gotten down how to serve. At first, I was serving with my paddle to the side, until another member directed me to scoop the paddle upwards, which really improved my form and accuracy.” 

The sound of the plastic whiffle ball popping on the wooden paddles is distinctive, and it can be fun to score a point on an opponent. Figuring out the scoring system may be tricky, but once that starts to make sense, the rest of the game is a blast.

“One of the best moments is when players do a ‘paddle-bump’ as a way of saying ‘Good job!’ to each other,” said Lauren Hannigan, Activity Coordination Assistant at the Center. “Often, after the scheduled hour is up, players at the HNC ask, ‘Please, can we play a little longer?’ The sportsmanship and collegiality that our players bring to each game is inspiring.”


Humana Neighborhood Centers, both in-person and online, offer educational events, programs and activities designed to help with physical and mental health. Many classes can be attended by anyone, including those who are not Humana members, at no cost. Each location offers a unique calendar of in-person or virtual events, programs and activities.

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Consult your doctor before beginning any new diet or exercise regimen. Your results may vary. It may not be typical to improve health conditions by taking the actions Lucy, Glenn and Susan have.