Got your attention? Pickleball is gaining in popularity amongst people of ALL ages. Surprised to learn that this game is not just for seniors? Read on!
While you may think that this game was created recently, it’s actually been around since 1965. It was created by 3 Washington state dads who grew tired of listening to their kids complain of boredom. They devised a mashup of Ping-Pong, tennis & badminton, the name for which came from Pickles, the ball-chasing dog of one of the originators. Even those that are considered “pro” pickleball players agree that the game is still in a period of experimentation, and that the “just plain fun” nature of the game is what has increased its popularity. As experienced and novice “picklers” agree, it’s hard to take yourself too seriously when the most savage shot is called a “dink” that players attempt to hit into a zone called “the kitchen.” Picklers agree that having to remember the funny rules (when to rotate on the court), and the fact that it requires all four players to recall the score quadruples the laughter!
The U.S. Pickleball Association reports that half of all serious “picklers” (those who play at least eight times a year) in 2021 were 55 and older. The fastest growing segment of all picklers are younger than 24, with the vast majority of casual players younger than 55. Pickleball is being played in middle and high school physical education classes nationwide, giving kids their first taste of a game they can enjoy for life.
The broad age range and the ease of the game make it very appealing. Many racket sports have a steep learning curve, even at the beginners level. The pickleball paddle is lighter than a tennis racket with shorter handles, so is easier to manipulate and serve with. The underhand serve is easier to hit & return. Pickleball’s Wiffle-type ball doesn’t fly as fast through the air and all over the court, so there’s less ground to cover in order to hit the ball back to your opponent. The courts are smaller; almost four pickleball courts could fit onto a tennis court, and a pickleball court can be taped or chalked out easily. Tennis nets can be used, or a portable pickleball net can be wheeled into place in lieu of a permanent one. The game can be played indoors or outdoors (a picker once set up a court in the hallway of a conference venue!) with 2 or 4 people, standing or in wheelchairs.
Health benefits of pickleball
A good aerobic workout, minimizing the stress placed on joints and muscles of other high impact exercises
Improvement of eye-hand coordination, movement and muscle strength
Cardiovascular benefits: 3.5% reduction in blood pressure, 5% improvement in good cholesterol and 12% increase in cardiorespiratory fitness
To find one of the >38,000 indoor or outdoor courts in the U.S. use the Pickleball+ app or put your ZIP code into the USA Pickleball Association’s court locator website.