Investment Read Time: 3 min

The Surprising Similarities of Pickleball and Investing

Written by Michael Antonelli, Baird PWM Market Strategist

Tennis is an incredibly difficult sport.

After a really good serve, the ball is traveling towards you at over 100 mph. You have fractions of a second to respond and even if you can get your racket on the ball, you still have to swing correctly.

The court is huge. You need to be supremely athletic and have the ability to sprint for hours on end.

The degree of difficulty in tennis is high.

The degree of difficulty in pickleball is far lower and that’s one of the main reasons it is wildly successful across all generations (Baird even sponsors pro tournaments!). The number of people playing pickleball grew by 159% over three years to 8.9 million in 2022, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, a trade group.

Take something complex, distill the best parts of it, simplify it, and you can see incredible results.

Investing works like this too.

You could make investing as complex as you want it to be. You could monitor the economy in real time, try to predict the path of interest rates, attempt to gauge sentiment, build a model for uncertain cash flows, and do your best to trade in and out at opportune moments.

But approaching investing this way makes the degree of difficulty very high. There are people who are successful at it (like there are successful tennis players). It’s just hard, and you have to devote your entire life to it (again, like successful tennis players).   

For the average investor who cares about growing their wealth, planning for the future, leaving a legacy to the world, and just living, simplifying investing can be extremely rewarding, just like pickleball is.

Where would you start if you wanted to simplify your investing life? 

First, ask yourself two questions:

1) What is the purpose of this money? 

2) How long do I want to invest it for?

Once you answer those you can start to build a portfolio to address your specific personality. It can be stocks, bonds, alternatives, cash, private equity, a whole host of things, but it needs to be built to who you are, not who someone else is. 

Also, if you want to simplify your investing life, you need to tune out as much noise as possible. How? Frankly by watching less news. News can make us nervous and being nervous impacts our ability to think clearly. News + Human Physiology works against you constantly. I’m not saying watch NO news, just try to watch less.

Finally, the absolute best way to simplify your investing life is to partner with someone. Playing singles in pickleball is fun but the game really shines when you have someone next to you. Advisors can take all the complexity of the modern investing world and distill it down for you, acting as your 24/7 teammate.   

I was pretty mediocre at tennis, especially serving. But pickleball? The simplicity of it speaks to me and, I won’t lie, I think I’m pretty good at it.

I’m ready to go. Who wants to play?

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