I’m certainly no fitness blogger, but I have started making an effort to share more tips about staying active, especially for those of us “older adults.” We’re not getting any younger, unfortunately, but regular physical activity can help us maintain our health and fitness so that we can keep feeling young at heart!
Exercising with resistance bands is a great option, but it’s certainly not the only one! I’ll be sharing another way to get active with you in today’s blog post, where we’ll explore a fun and accessible sport that’s on the rise today thanks to the seniors who have been playing it for decades.
It’s called pickleball, and if you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s high time you did! In this post, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about this silly-sounding sport, including how it works, how it grew to what it is today, and why you should give it a try for yourself! :-)
What Is Pickleball?
Even though it’s been growing in popularity in recent years, many people still haven’t even heard of pickleball. I’ll provide a quick overview here of how it works, but if you’re interested in a more thorough explanation of the game and its rules, I highly recommend watching this short and informative Youtube video from PlayPickleball.com!
As far as play goes, pickleball is something of a mix of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. Like other racket sports, the game takes place on a court, where players use a paddle to hit a ball over a net in an attempt to score.
While it has a lot of similarities to tennis, what sets pickleball apart is that the court is quite small in comparison, and the ball is larger and moves more slowly. These factors make pickleball a slower and less physically demanding game, which helps explain the appeal it holds for both older folks and those who prefer more casual sports.
A Short History Of Pickleball & Its Rise To Popularity
According to the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), the game was created in the late 1960’s by Joel Pritchard, a then-State Congressman in Washington, along with a few of his friends. The game saw its first organized tournaments during the 70’s, and in 1984, the USAPA was established to promote the sport on a national level.
From then up until the 2000s, pickleball tournaments were almost exclusively organized for seniors, often as one event within seniors-only Olympics-style tournaments. But in 2009, the USAPA held it’s first all-ages tournament that drew almost 400 players from across the country.
Within the past 10 years alone, pickleball has exploded in popularity with younger players, and today there are more than 4,000 places to play a game of pickleball all over the country. In fact, just within my own relatively small county, one of our public parks has 9 dedicated pickleball courts that are free for anyone to use (which you can see me doing throughout this post!) ;-)
To find pickleball courts and facilities near you, use the USAPA’s Places 2 Play search tool here!
4 Reasons Why You Should Give Pickleball A Try
1. It Requires Minimal Gear
In order to start playing, all you need is a basic set of pickleball gear: a paddle for each player (two for a one-on-one match or four for doubles), one ball, and a net. And if there are courts in your area that already have nets installed, you won’t even need to provide your own!
2. It’s Inexpensive
Another reason to give it a try is that isn’t particularly expensive to get equipped with a basic set of pickleball gear. I bought this set with 4 wooden paddles and 4 balls on Amazon for about $45 (but you can get this very similar set with 2 fewer paddles for $26!)
Like with any sport, there’s plenty of high-end equipment out there that can get pretty pricey. But if you’re just looking for a simple beginner’s set, you won’t have to worry about it breaking the bank!
3. The Games Are Quick
Another thing I like about pickleball is that an individual game typically only lasts about 15 minutes. Non-tournament games are usually played to 11 points, win by 2, so you’re never locked in to a lengthy, seemingly never-ending match.
Since the games are quick, you can play more of them! You can swap teammates between games, or even play a mini-tournament without committing too much of your time.
4. It’s Fun For The Whole Family!
And finally, pickleball is a great way to get the whole family together for some fun competition (as well as exercise and fresh air!) Kids as young as 7 are welcome in the USAPA’s Juniors program, so if your kids or grandkids take to it, they may be interested in participating in tournaments down the road!
And knowing that pickleball was popularized by seniors, it goes without saying that it’s a great game for Grandma and Grandpa too! In my experience, games and sports that the whole family can do together are rare, so pickleball presents a unique opportunity to create memories that will last a lifetime. :-)
What do you like to do for physical activity?