Pickle ball is relatively new to the sporting scene, and its popularity has been boosted by a very unlikely group of folks – seniors.
Pickle ball is simple to play and has a low impact on a player’s body. It combines elements of tennis, ping-pong and badminton, played with a solid paddle and a plastic wiffle ball. The court is roughly one third the size of a tennis court, is separated by a net which is lower than standard tennis net and can be covered in just a few steps.
Many senior or 55+ communities report that pickle ball has become their most popular sporting activity. So much so, that many now have, or will be, converting existing tennis courts into dedicated pickle ball courts. At the same time, several communities are constructing brand new courts in answer to growing demand from their residents.
Why is pickle ball so popular?
The game is filled with laughter and can be addictive, which encourages more regular exercise for a healthier lifestyle. Most players coming off the courts are visibly in good moods, laughing and smiling together. It is a very effective low intensity workout as well. When exercise is fun, there is a high probability that you may keep doing it.
One of our clients, John Lortscher, who purchased a home from us in Auberge at Del Sur in San Diego said of his experience with pickle ball, “The game is easy to learn and we find it to be relaxed and friendly, with everyone willing to help each other without pressure. We have found it to be a great way to get exercise while playing a game!“
We have seen the dedication to the sport that pickle ball induces first hand, in one of the 55+ communities that we serve – Ocean Hills Country Club in Oceanside California. During the COVID-19 pandemic all of the community’s amenities were shut down, including their eight pickle ball courts. As we drove through the community, we suddenly had to stop due to the spirited pickle ball game being played in the middle of the street with a makeshift net and taped lines on the blacktop. All of the neighbor’s garage doors were open as everyone within eyesight was enjoying the competition.
So powerful is the draw of this game once a person witnesses it, that they immediately become excited about the prospect of joining in on the fun. We have had clients so excited about playing pickle ball, that they extensively research how to buy the best paddle, long before even stepping onto a court.
Pickle ball is popular with tennis players whose bodies can no longer take the running and physical pounding of their favorite sport. It is also much less intimidating to beginners than tennis, as most have played ping-pong and, or badminton before.
In reality, beginners quickly pick up the game and can be competitive – if they want to be – after just a few sessions. Pickle ball is not a sport that requires years of specific training to be competent at. The pickle ball paddle is about double the size of its ping pong counterpart. Being that the wiffle ball is large, it is quite easy to hit it with consistency.
This is also a sport where participants are not required to spend a lot of money for equipment. All that is required is a pickle ball paddle, which can easily be purchased for less than $50, a few pickle balls at less than $2 each and appropriate shoes – that’s it!
Most pickle ball games are played with doubles partners, and in senior communities, often, players are rotated in at the culmination of games. This rotation system lends itself to wonderful socialization for both the players waiting in the queue and for those on the court, playing with new opponents – in some cases new partners – during most matches.
Pickle ball can help reduce loss of muscle mass and can be good for heart. The game greatly improves hand-eye coordination and balance, which could be of value in helping seniors remain independent for a longer period of time, delaying the need to move to assisted living.
The social aspect of the sport reduces the risk of depression and loneliness – one of the biggest health risk factors for seniors. In fact, surveys of seniors showed that once joining into the pickle balls community, many other social aspects of their life blossomed – even romantically! Pickle ball marriages are becoming common in senior communities.
There is always a flip-side to every subject, and pickle ball is no exception. The sport does require movement and can be fast-paced. This does increase the risk of falling injuries.
If you are a pickle baller, or think that you might enjoy the game, contact us to chat about which of our local San Diego 55+ communities that feature pickle ball, might be the best fit for you.
Written by Ken Tritle, Realtor®, Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES®), DreamWell Homes Realty in San Diego County, Lic# 01777754 Call/text 760-798-9024, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up for our Newsletter Email Guide to Relocating or Retiring to San Diego here.