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"Give yourself a chance to re-experience things." - Chloe Tan (Mental Wellness through Pickleball)

With the topic of Mental Health & Well-being gaining attention and sparking conversations about the pivotal role that Mental Wellness plays in enabling individuals to function at their best, Singapore Pickleball Association (SPA) has kickstarted a new Mental Wellness charter to encourage individuals to embark on an active journey towards bettering their Mental health and well-being. Together, we seek to raise awareness about the life-changing benefits of integrating Pickleball into our lives by showcasing the authentic perspectives of Pickleballers in Singapore.

In the native land of Pickleball

What better way to learn a sport than to pick it up in its native land? For Chloe Tan, her interest in this “interesting sport with an interesting sound” of Pickleball began during a trip to the United States in June of 2022. Before this, she had only heard about Pickleball through a podcast series by one of her favourite speakers, Brené Brown, who “couldn’t stop talking about it” but never actually came close to trying it out. Within a few days of touching down in Chicago, her best friend suggested they both try out the sport at some nearby courts. This experience sparked a desire in her to delve into Pickleball.

Upon touching down in Singapore, Chloe made plans for her and her 72-year-old dad to take up some introductory Pickleball classes at a nearby sports facility as a father-daughter bonding activity. However, they were immediately overwhelmed by the speed and intensity of play when they first stepped into the sports hall which was flooded with players and balls flying everywhere.

“In the states, I saw these 80-year-old people slowly going ‘pik-pok’ and thought that we could easily do that. But when we entered the hall and opened the door, we saw so many balls flying everywhere! I then told my dad that we would just finish two lessons and we are out of this place.”

Nonetheless, their worries ceased as they quickly realised that the sport was not as intimidating as it seemed. Given the relative ease of picking it up, along with the guidance of their coach, the duo’s interest in Pickleball deepened over time and has become a weekly affair ever since.

Chloe, in white, posing for a group shot with some of her Team Petir folks.

The quality of relationships

Aside from the “therapeutic” sound that comes from the paddle hitting the ball on the sweet spot, the 44-year-old shares that the quality of the friendships she has forged is what has kept her in the sport. She attributes her love for Pickleball to the positive atmosphere and members of the group she plays with as their “light-heartedness and jokes” have been a source of comfort and encouragement. As a self-identified social and recreational player, Chloe sees Pickleball more as her outlet to unwind and chill especially after a heavy day of work and therefore appreciates how supportive her coach, Tommy Lim, and her teammates have been to not put extra pressure on her to play at a higher level.

“I did take part in a competition last year. Totally thrashed. I think I might even have gotten close to zero (points) for a match. But it was Tommy’s idea for me to compete and to have fun as a participant, doing my best and making friends with opponents.”

Besides the novelty of playing with different players during competitions, Chloe personally derives great satisfaction from unlocking new skills and being able to apply them appropriately during match plays. This, to her, is “the highlight” of her Pickleball journey.

“ I really like learning and that’s why I’m taking coaching courses now. Whenever I learn a new skill and can apply it in a game, I get very excited. It could be executing a lob or a drop shot during a game…I feel very accomplished to have successfully applied what I have practiced and learned.”

Posing with her coach, Tommy Lim, during one of their Pickleball sessions. (Credits: Chloe Tan)

All about a good balance

Given how Pickleball has satisfied her desire to learn new things and tap into her creative side, Chloe believes that her time in this sport has “definitely enhanced her mental health and well-being”. As a trained counsellor by profession, she explains that the quality of one’s mental health is interconnected to other aspects of health. It also means that to experience overall health and well-being, we’d want to nourish all aspects of health.

“Pickleball provides that balanced nourishment: there is a physical part…a social part…and a psychological part because you have to focus. They all link together and you can’t really have one without the other. The mix of it is what I love about it and I can say that it has certainly enhanced my mental health.”

On the importance of caring for one’s mental health and well-being, Chloe stresses that it is “extremely important” as failure to do so would mean an inability to function and perform at our maximum potential. However, her work experiences have revealed that society’s understanding of Mental Health can be more informed considering the numerous misconceptions and questions she receives. A possible reason for its stigma and taboo-like nature can also be an allusion to “having mental problems or going to IMH”, which is why people may prefer to stay away from the topic.

“Mental Health is an aspect of health. Unlike physical health, for example, mental health is not easily quanitfiable. It’s not like your bmi where you can measure and quantify it. That’s also why people don’t really talk about it because they don’t know how to talk about it and/or think it’s that important. However, your Mental health is something you can take care of every day.”

Dealing with it the right way

As talking about one’s struggles with caring for their mental health can be difficult, she cautions that it is crucial not to invalidate someone’s feelings or to downplay their psychological and emotional struggles. Furthermore, it is also important to note that we should not be quick to label others or diagnose ourselves with mental health issues as it is normal to have good days and not-so-good days.

“Today you may be feeling down but tomorrow you might feel better. So, give yourself a break and try again tomorrow. Give yourself a chance to re-experience things.”

Chloe, up and drilling at the Petir courts, on a Saturday morning. (Credits: Jia Hui)

While more knowledge and resources on Mental Health and Wellness are becoming accessible, it can be confusing and overwhelming to sift through all the information. What may even be harder, as she has observed, is an individual’s ability to apply the knowledge in their daily lives. Nonetheless, Chloe would always remind her clients and friends to take things one at a time and remember to enjoy hobbies that connect us to positive emotions and like-minded people, like what Pickleball has done for her.

Grab your limited edition SPA Pickleball paddle to get started on your towards better Mental health & well-being here:


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