Pickleball is the New Tennis
Pickleball Gives Boomers a Chance to Hit the Court Again
It can be argued that the Boomer Generation was the first generation to truly embrace sport and athletics as both spectators and participants. It seems as if there were more golf courses, baseball, softball and soccer fields, hockey rinks and tennis courts built in the 70’s and 80’s than in any of the decades before or since. Our generation turned out some of the greatest athletes of the last Century and our International teams often dominated. This was due in part to the fact that the science and popularity of sports were increasing exponentially, but it was also very personal to many Boomers: we played as much as we watched. That’s also the reason so many of us are suffering with creaky shoulders, gimpy knees and achy backs. But it’s the competitive nature of our generation that drives us to repair ourselves and continue to compete no matter the challenge. One of the games that are making that possible today is called pickleball.
Pickleball. It’s a strange name for a great sport and a sport that Boomers are picking up in droves. According to the USA Pickleball Association, “Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, WA. Three dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum -whose kids were bored with their usual summertime activities are credited for creating game. Pickleball has evolved from original hand-made equipment and simple rules into a popular sport throughout the US and Canada. The game is growing internationally as well with many European and Asian countries adding courts.”
The game is played on a pickleball court which is the same size as a doubles badminton court and measures 20×44 feet. In pickleball, the same court is used for both singles and doubles play. The net height is 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches in the middle. The court is striped similar to a tennis court with right and left service courts and a 7-foot non-volley zone in front of the net (referred to as the “kitchen”). Courts can be constructed specifically for pickleball or they can be converted using existing tennis or badminton courts. In short, it’s an environment perfect for athletes with a sharply competitive mind but a body a couple iterations behind. Age and injury does that to us all.
Thankfully, there are medical advancements and surgical technologies that have given us our mobility and dexterity back. Hip and knee replacement surgery has come a long way in the last decade and now offers many of us a chance to compete again. And pickleball is the perfect sport for us now. The court size is reasonable, the paddle is manageable, the pace of the game is appealing and the quality of the athletes is second to none. It’s a game that offers challenging competition and engaging competitors. Where was this game when we were younger?!
Pickleball is not just a great sport but a great way to recover and rehab after many of the new joint repair and replacement surgeries. Obviously, every patient should consult their physician before doing any kind of physical activity and pickleball is no exception. But if a patient gets the green-light, this is a game that can do miracles. It’s physical, mental and social and at this stage of our collective athletic careers, that is the perfect mix. Check out the video and then check out the sport. You’ll love it.