Pickleball Isn’t Just for Seniors & Retirees Any More

Mar 14, 2022

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you have certainly observed the emergence – and gathering popularity – of a sport called pickleball. A large number of our community tennis courts have been taken over by the phenomenon, much to our chagrin.

It’s a curious hybrid game, a kind of crazy cross between tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. You may be asking yourself, as are we (two avid tennis players and one also an ex badminton champion), “What is the appeal of this activity which enjoys a cult-like following among its adherents?”

It’s Simple

And we don’t use that descriptor lightly. It’s an easy game to pick up and learn how to play.

A recent edition of The New York Times supplied a convincing explanation for the rise of the pickleball phenomenon:

“Over the last decade, however, it’s grown in popularity as a racket sport with a lower barrier to entry than tennis that offers recreation without the years of fine-tuning it might take to play competitively. The nets are lower than in tennis and the courts are roughly one-fourth the size, so there’s less sprinting involved, and it has become a favourite with retirees and some celebrities.”

Everybody’s Doing It

The actor Matthew Perry, who before his starring role on the sitcom Friends had been a nationally ranked junior tennis player in Canada, picked up pickleball during the pandemic. ‘I don’t move around as well as I used to, but I saw my friend Amanda Peet talking about pickleball on a talk show and I was like, ‘I have to try this,’ he said. He now plays several times a week.”

The US Pickleball Association estimates that more than 4.8 million Americans played pickleball in 2021. And according to Pickleball Canada (slogan: A Game For All), the sport is in the middle of a global surge. The number of places to play pickleball has reportedly doubled since 2010, and international clubs dedicated to the sport have sprung up, in addition to the US and Canada, in Spain and India. The latest estimates, which are slightly out-of-date, put Canadian participation at 60,000.

An explanation for the pickleball frenzy was supplied by Matthew Manasse, 33, a nationally ranked professional player, who runs the pickleball program at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California. Mr. Manasse observed:

In tennis, the technique takes years and years. But in the first pickleball lesson, we are able to play a full game and get rallies going.

Sports retailers across North America (including Pickleball Canada) are reporting a substantial surge in pickleball equipment – balls, paddles, nets, and bags – sales. Clearly the sport enjoys not only mass player appeal but mass retail appeal.

Like tennis, pickleball is an intensely social activity. Players thrive on the competitive banter it encourages and, along with that, the effortless access it provides for the formation of friendships based on healthy living. Plus, it needs to be said, all at a fraction of the price of tennis – with its expensive gear and cost-prohibitive court fees.

Reports The New York Times: “Dedicated pickleball players, like Brené Brown, the vulnerability researcher and author, who co-owns a team in Austin, Texas, the ATX Pickleballers, hopes the increasing exposure does not change the spirit of the game. She plays pickleball most days, crediting its competitive yet accessible nature as ‘vitally important’ to her mental and physical well-being.”

At Everything Retirement we’re wholeheartedly in favour of activities that promote healthy living, sociability, and cognitive clarity. Pickleball does all three – affordably.

Are you a pickleball fan? Let us know and share your pictures on the Everything Retirement Facebook page!

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