Q: I’ve heard a lot about the game of pickleball, and people seem to love it. In fact, I’ve got friends who played once and got hooked. They say it’s a game for any age and not just for athletes. I’m wondering if this is something I should try as a 71-year-old woman.
A: Why not? Whether you’re on the fence about playing pickleball or just wonder what the fuss is all about, you’re not alone. Pickleball’s popularity has been growing, and lots of people have picked up the game – some seriously and others just for fun.
It’s relatively easy on the body, not hard to learn, and is a great way to get out and socialize.
Pickleball is played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net. Players use paddles and a plastic ball with holes (like a Wiffle ball), and it can be played as doubles or singles, according to USA Pickleball.
The sport has been around since the 1960s and has elements of ping pong, tennis, and badminton. It grew slowly in popularity from where it originated in the northwest across the country.
It was during the pandemic that the game really took off, according to an article from AARP. There is a low barrier to entry, players of all ages and abilities play, and there has been a nearly 15 percent increase in pickleball players nationwide.
There are lots of benefits for older adults. The game is inherently social, with many players connecting through clubs, leagues, and online groups. Plus, it’s good exercise and has hand-eye coordination and other cognitive benefits.
If you’re just starting out, it’s best to find a beginners group to learn the basics. As you advance, it can become more competitive. It’s likely you can borrow a paddle if you are new to the game, but the equipment is available at lots of retailers and online. You just need comfortable clothes and sturdy sneakers.
Pickleball is offered by a number of different clubs, YMCAs, and local municipalities. A great resource is to contact your local Council on Aging for information.
For example, Georgetown’s Parks and Recreation Program hosts pickleball outside during warmer months and inside in a school gym shared by the COA and School Department during the winter. Following the games, participants come up to the Senior Center for coffee and a social time.
You can also find the sport offered through towns’ recreation departments, often on courts near the senior centers. Look for more options for places to play as the weather gets warmer. Have fun!
Are you caring for an older adult or need help find locating healthy aging resources? Our experienced staff is available to help. Visit us online at www.agespan.org for more information. You can also call us at 800-892-0890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of AgeSpan, formerly Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore.