Pickleball Anyone? Sport is great for all ages

Let’s take a look at what some of you may think an odd topic; Pickleball. If you’re like me and have not had the pleasure of playing Pickleball or for that matter, you have never heard of it, you are in good company.

Let’s start with a short history lesson on Pickleball. Pickleball began on Bainbridge Island in Washingon state in summer 1965. Pickleball was created by pulling aspects of other similar sports like tennis, badminton, and table tennis together making it a hybrid of all the above. Why it is called Pickleball seems to be up for some debate, but it is likely it was named after one of the Pickleball creator’s family pet a few years after it all started.

The game itself uses badminton-sized courts and a whiffle-type ball. The players use paddles similar to table tennis but larger with a 34 inch net between the players. The game Pickleball has become so popular that there is a national association, the USPA, along with regional associations like the INWPC and many local Pickleball clubs around the country.

The consensus when you ask people if they have played Pickleball or even know about it is a mixed bag. What some folks think is it is a pretty bastardized form of tennis while others love the game and it’s competitive energy.

For those of you who play Pickleball, you may be wondering why I am talking about Pickleball in a health and wellness column. The answer is it’s the perfect activity for sedentary people who are looking for a sport that’s simple to start learning while having fun and filled with healthy exercise.

Pickleball is a game or sport all ages can participate in and as you improve in the sport, so does your physical workout. Pickleball can be as fast-moving and physically demanding as tennis. It is low impact which comes with a reduced risk of injury. However, some hardcore Pickleball players can make the game a little more risky with diving saves and other acrobatics.

The most significant reason I wanted to cover Pickleball as a gateway activity to get people into exercise is it’s appeal to two demographics. The two age groups that can get a great deal of benefit from playing Pickleball is the young kids and older people. Pickleball requires a fair amount of hand-eye coordination, but moreover playing Pickleball will improve balance, mobility strength, and flexibility. Mobility and staying active is vital for both our young and old as they retain better coordination by making Pickleball a weekly activity.

Defining Pickleball as a game for only young kids and old people would not be fair or accurate. All ages play Pickleball and it is genuinely a physically demanding and competitive sport that is beloved and also Pickleball tournaments get coverage time on national television. That’s the beauty of the game. It is an activity that most people can take up and either do it for fun and exercise or perfect their skill level and compete with the big players in a tournament.

Pickleball has become a mainstay as an activity in retirement areas such as Florida and Arizona for many years. Youth Pickleball has picked up steam in some school districts around the country and youth tournaments are very common across the country.

Like all racket type sports, the primary benefit of exercise during these activities comes in the form of mental acuity from hand-eye coordination along with strengthening mobility for all ages.

One study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine took an in-depth look at six different forms of exercise and how the risk of early death ties to each of them. The nine-year study compared aerobics exercises, cycling, running, soccer, swimming and racket sports. The study involved 80,306 volunteers from age 30 to 98. The one fascinating aspect that the study found was people who played racket sports were 56 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease.

Pickleball is a brain game with the added benefit of exercise. You have to think quick on your feet, build robust coordination, balance and flexibility. The game is something that can become a lifelong passion. Kids to people in their nineties play Pickleball on a regular basis and perhaps are living longer by doing so.

As goofy as this may sound to some of you, those folks that have come to love Pickleball will tell you it is entirely a great way to get out, be active and have fun! Pickleball is a pretty big thing so if you are interested, look into it and you may find that you are a natural!


Judd Jones is a certified primal health coach and fitness consultant. He can be reached at jjones@cdapress.com adn www.jhanawellness.com.


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