Pickleball is huge among the 55+ community, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a low-impact, socially-friendly sport played on a small court. Over half (52%) of pickleball players are 55 or older. Nearly a third (32.7%) are 65-plus. With pickleball providing consistent health and social benefits, it's continuing to grow in popularity among this age group.
Why Is Pickleball So Popular Among Seniors?
Pickleball is a popular sport among older people for several reasons:
Pickleball is a low-impact physical activity, which means it is easier on the joints than high-impact sports like running or basketball. Pickleball games are played on a smaller court with lower nets than other racquet sports. This makes it a good option for seniors who may have joint problems or want to avoid high-impact activities.
Another reason pickleball is popular among seniors is that it is played in a friendly and social environment. Many seniors enjoy socializing and making new friends while playing pickleball.
Easy To Learn
Pickleball is also easy to learn, making it accessible to people of all skill levels. This appeals to new players or those who last played a sport a while ago.
Many pickleball courts are located in indoor facilities, which makes it a year-round activity that can be played regardless of the weather.
Social Connections And Well-Being
Retirees often have more time to pursue hobbies and activities, and pickleball is a great way to stay active, have fun, and improve social connections. It is also a relatively affordable activity, as the equipment needed to play (such as paddles and balls) is relatively inexpensive, and many communities have public pickleball courts that are free or low-cost to use.
Pickleball is played on a smaller court than many other sports, requiring less running and is easier on the body. This is another reason it is popular among seniors who may not be as physically active as they once were.
Overall, pickleball is a fun, easy-to-learn, and low-impact sport that is well-suited for seniors and can provide physical and social benefits.
What Percentage of Pickleball Players Are Seniors?
According to the 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry report, over half (52%) of pickleball players who play eight or more times a year are 55 or older. Nearly a third (32.7%) are 65-plus.
The Health Benefits Of Pickleball For Older Adults
Pickleball can provide several health benefits for older adults. Some of the potential benefits include the following:
- Cardiovascular exercise: Pickleball is a good cardiovascular workout that raises heart rates and helps seniors stay active and healthy.
- Improving balance and coordination: Pickleball requires players to move around the court and react to the ball, which can help improve balance and hand-eye coordination.
- Building muscle strength: Pickleball requires players to use their upper body to hit the ball, which can help build muscle strength in the arms and shoulders.
- Reducing stress: Playing pickleball can be a fun and enjoyable activity that can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. It can also help lower blood pressure.
- Improving mental health: Pickleball is a game that can help seniors stay connected with teammates and combat feelings of loneliness or isolation, which can positively impact mental health.
Pickleball Tournaments For Seniors
Pickleball tournaments are a popular way for seniors to compete and socialize with others who enjoy the sport. Many pickleball tournaments are open to players of all ages, but there are also tournaments specifically for seniors. Local pickleball clubs, community centers, or national pickleball organizations may organize these tournaments.
There are typically different divisions for different age groups in senior pickleball tournaments. For example, there may be separate divisions for players aged 50-59, 60-69, 70-79, and 80+. This allows seniors of different ages to compete against others in their own age group.
In addition to traditional tournaments, pickleball events are specially for seniors, such as the Senior Games and the National Senior Olympics. These events typically include a variety of sports and activities in addition to pickleball.
The U.S. Senior Pickleball website contains information about the senior tournament circuit. There are dozens of tournaments planned for 2023. However, the standouts are the USSP National Indoor Championship in Oklahoma City in April and the USSP National Championships in Rockwell, Texas, in September.
Pickleball Injuries Among Seniors
There is a risk of pickleball injuries for seniors, although it’s lower than in some other sports.
Like any sport, regular pickleball carries an injury risk, especially for those seniors who may be more injury-prone due to age-related changes in the body. However, pickleball is generally considered a low-impact sport that is easier on the joints than other racquet sports, such as tennis.
Some common pickleball injuries among seniors include strains and sprains (such as wrist, rotator cuff, “pickleball elbow,” or shoulder sprains), Achilles tendonitis, and overuse injuries. To help prevent injuries, seniors should warm up before playing, use proper technique when hitting the ball, listen to their bodies and take breaks as needed.
It is also a good idea for seniors to use proper equipment, such as a paddle with a good grip and well-maintained balls, and to wear appropriate footwear to help reduce the risk of injury.
Pickleball can be a safe and enjoyable activity for seniors, but it is important to take precautions to prevent injuries.
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