So, if you’re interested in getting in on the pickleball trend, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s the story of this up-and-coming sport and why many older adults are becoming pickleballers.

A Brief History of Pickleball

In 1965, inventive dads Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum set out to create a new game that would entertain their children over the long summer months. Together, they combined the rules and gameplay from tennis, badminton and Ping-Pong to create a new, family-friendly sport.

Pritchard’s wife, Joan, said the mashup of concepts from multiple games reminded her of a pickle boat, where oarsmen from different rowing teams are thrown together into one boat. Thus, the name “pickleball” was born.

How to Play Pickleball

If you’re an avid player of racquet sports, you might be familiar with the overall concept of pickleball. The game is played on a badminton-sized court (20’ x 44’). Using paddles, two or four players hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. The ball is served diagonally, starting with the right-hand service square. Points can only be scored by the side that serves. The game ends when one player or team earns 11, 15 or 21 points and is ahead by at least two points over their opponent.

If you want to dive deeper, learn more about the five main rules of pickleball.

Why Seniors Can’t Get Enough Pickleball

Exercise improves health and well-being. Like any sort of exercise, pickleball may help improve fitness and lower depression in seniors. However, because the game is played on a smaller court than tennis, there tends to be less exertion. Plus, the larger, plastic ball may be easier to see than a badminton birdie for those with vision issues.

Pickleball may be an entertaining way for older adults to help maintain a robust lifestyle as they continue to age. After all, physical activity for seniors may help improve mental and emotional health as well as social well-being and cognitive function.

It's a social sport. Socializing can be vital to the health and happiness of seniors. In a study by Penn State University, researchers found that when adults between the ages of 70 to 90 reported more frequent, pleasant social interactions, they tended to have better cognitive performance. Since pickleball is a multiplayer sport, it may help older adults to interact with others, get exercise and have a ball (no pun intended).

“There’s this fun aspect, which really ties into social support,” says Chris Gagliardi, a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. “It’s not this individual journey, like going to the gym by yourself to walk on the treadmill,” he says. “You can play doubles, you can have a teammate . . . and for some people, it can be the only socializing they may have that week.”

Competition is healthy at any age. Being competitive may be more than just a personality trait. A study in The Journal of Aging and Physical Activity found that, for some older adults, playing pickleball may help remind them of their past athletic abilities and satisfy a desire for healthy competition. The game’s unique combination of ease of play, focus on community and organically developed competition give seniors a great opportunity to try a whole new ball game.

Ready to Play?

The best thing about pickleball is how easy it is to start. All you need is a net, a few balls and some paddles. If you’re ready to jump in, try out a pickleball set and get going!

To find out more about recreational activities at Brookdale, check out our many amenities

The above content is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before beginning any exercise or fitness program or acting on any content on this website, especially if you have a medical condition. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.


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