Staying Active in Retirement
Over the last couple of years doctors have made clear the benefits of regular physical activity, especially for older adults. In fact, adults 65 and older gain substantial health benefits from regular physical activity.1 Being physically active can increase mobility, lessen the chance of injury, and lead to an overall better quality of life.
The benefits of exercise extend beyond the physical though. Regular exercise also lowers the risk of dementia and reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression.2 Even knowing all the advantages associated with staying active, it can be tough to find an activity that’s fun, mentally challenging, and physically taxing.
A Nation of Pickleballers
But if having fun, engaging in friendly competition, and burning calories sounds like your kind of exercise, pickleball may be the sport for you. With over 3.13 million people in the U.S. playing pickleball right now, this fast growing sport is quickly becoming the favorite of active retirees nationwide.3
Where did it come from?
In 1965, Congressman Joel Pritchard and his close friend Bill Bell invented the game as a means to give their families something to do on vacation. Using an old badminton court, they improvised a game using ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. Over the course of a couple weeks, their family and friends discovered that this strange new game was tons of fun!4
How do you play?
Pickleball is played either as doubles (two players per team) or singles but doubles is most common. This doesn’t mean you have to bring a partner though. Many leagues and communities have members that are more than happy to play with new teammates.
A standard pickleball play area is the same size as a doubles badminton court and measures 20×44 feet with the net set at tennis court height. There are a number of easy to grasp rules, but the biggest difference between pickleball and tennis, is the “serve” and the “kitchen.”
In pickleball, the serve is made underhand and paddle contact with the ball must be below waist level. Much like tennis, the serve is made diagonally crosscourt and must land within the confines of the opposite diagonal court.5
“The kitchen” is a colloquial term for the non-volley zone. This is a 3.5-foot wide section of the court closest to the net and extends to each sideline. It’s not uncommon to hear yells of “Kitchen!” followed by roars of “Ohhhh!” or bellows of laughter during a game. Even seasoned players can find themselves celebrating a great volley, only to realize they’re standing squarely in “the kitchen” where volley’s are a big no-no.
Fun for Everyone
Because pickleball rules are so similar to ping-pong, the barrier to entry can be quite low. Grandparents, grandchildren, and anyone in between can pick up this fun game with little frustration. So next time you’re looking for something to break up the monotony of your normal exercise routine, why don’t you give pickleball a try? Whether you’re a beginner who just wants to learn a new sport for fun, or a seasoned athlete who craves the thrill of competitive play, pickleball offers something for everyone.
1. Center for Disease Control, 2018
2. Center for Disease Control, 2018
3. AARP, 2018
4. USA Pickleball Association, 2018
5. USAPA, 2018