Why More Seniors Are Picking Pickleball to Have Fun
Pickleball is more than just having fun.
Nearly everyone has heard of pickleball, and it makes sense because it has often been called America’s fastest-growing sport. Interestingly, over half of avid players of this sport are over 55, and a third of players are over 65.
So, what is compelling so many seniors to pick up a pickleball racket?
The History of the Game
Pickleball was invented by a congressman and a successful businessman in the summer of 1965 at the congressman’s home on Bainbridge Island, Washington. On that day, the two men wanted to play badminton with their families, but they could not find any equipment around the house for their game.
The men and their families replaced badminton rackets with ping-pong rackets, and they used a simple plastic ball on a badminton court with a lowered net. The game became a hit, and it was introduced to the public in 1975 with an article about the game in the National Observer.
By 1990, this sport was being played in all 50 states. During and after the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in the sport skyrocketed, and USA Pickleball membership numbers nearly tripled in size.
The Basics of the Game
In a nutshell, this sport is a cross between tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It can be played as a singles game, that is, with one person on either side of the net, or it can be played as a doubles game in pairs. Players rally a ball similar to tennis, and points can only be earned by players who serve. In a typical game, a winner is recognized as the first player or team to reach 11 points.
Why Seniors Love Pickleball
It’s Low-Impact Exercise
Pickleball is considered to be a low-impact sport because it does not put excess strain on the body’s joints, unlike many other sports. The courts for this game are also relatively small in comparison to tennis courts, so less running and jumping is required during play. This gives seniors an opportunity to participate in a popular sport without the added risk of injury.
It Involves Socialization
Many seniors today report feeling lonely or socially isolated regularly. However, seniors who are involved in an easy sport, like this one, give themselves a chance to socialize with other players. A lot of players like to meet outside of the sport, too, so there is always a chance to make friends on and off the court.
Pickleball Promotes Brain Health
Pickleball, along with most sports, requires players to use mental focus during play, which stimulates brain activity. Even less athletic players say that this sport is beneficial to their overall health because it not only gives them a chance to improve their physical health, but it also gives them a chance to compete against more athletic players by using strategy, which can improve their cognitive function.
This sport is also a form of cardiovascular exercise, meaning it promotes blood flow, and it can help boost mood by releasing dopamine in the brain. This means that playing the sport, especially on a regular basis, can improve physical and mental health.
For seniors who are interested in trying this sport, joining a local club may be a good place to start. Some senior living communities may offer their own sports clubs for residents too, making it even easier to get started. At The Davis Community, we offer many activities for residents, including pickleball, to promote overall well-being and healthy aging.