What do you get when you mix a smidgeon of badminton, a pinch of ping-pong, and a slice of tennis?
The latest craze at active adult communities: Pickleball.
Originally designed as a backyard lawn game for the whole family, pickleball was created over 40 years ago by U.S. Representative Joel Pritchard and friends. Pickles, Pritchard's family dog, had an obsession with chasing errant balls during play and would hide with them in the bushes. Hence the name: pickleball. Since its inception, pickleball has evolved into an official paddle sport with formalized rules. Players use a suped-up square version of a ping-pong paddle and hit a whiffle-like ball over a lowered net on a badminton-sized court. Long popular with public schools, colleges, and recreation departments, the sport has become increasingly popular with retirees. Due to its growing demand, more 55+ active adult communities are adding pickleball courts to their amenities.
Why Is Pickleball So Popular With Retirees?
Today, most boomers in the 55+ age group lead active lives, are health conscious and wish to continue to be involved in activities outside of shuffleboard. Though bodies tend to slow a bit with age and can be more prone to joint and muscle strain or injury, pickleball provides an enjoyable alternative to higher impact sports, such as tennis. The rules of the game dictate an underhanded serve, a single bounce before the first hit, and a non-volley zone at the net which slows the game down significantly. Though it requires good hand-eye coordination and some stamina, the smaller-sized court decreases the need to run, which in turn lessens the probability of injury. The low impact nature of the sport opens the field so that all ages and mobility levels can participate.
pickleball may be less strenuous and taxing on the body, but it does not mean there is a decrease in the physical benefits from playing the sport. The game still develops good reflexes, coordination and provides a great cardiovascular workout. Due to its less taxing nature, older, active adults can continue to play this sport well into their retirement years and receive the same health benefits of higher impact sports. Socialization is an added benefit of the game, providing retirees an opportunity to meet similarly active individuals who take part in recreational or tournament play.
Is Pickleball Here To Stay?
The first national pickleball tournament was held in a retirement community that had 36 courts. The popularity of tournament play has continued to explode in recent years with the sport being added to the Senior Olympics in several states. As the number of pickleball-enamored baby boomers reaches retirement age, the demand for 55+ active adult communities with court amenities will continue to rise. Due to the longevity of its existence and ever-increasing popularity, pickleball appears to be much more than just a passing fad. With proven health and social benefits, pickleball is certain to remain a mainstay in the lives of the 55+active-adult for years to come.