Although the vast majority of Pickleball players are still over the age of 55, the demographics are undergoing rapid change.
The primary reason that Pickleball until recently attracted primarily “older” players is due to the fact that baby boomers have reached an age where they are seeking a sport that involves less wear and tear on the body than other sports such as tennis.
In addition, Pickleball is more social and cost a lot less money than tennis and golf. A person can buy a “starter” paddle for less than $50 and the cost to play ranges from free to about 4 or 5 dollars per session. Compare this to golf where clubs alone cost many hundreds of dollars and both golf club memberships and green fees are very expensive. Tennis can also be quite expensive compared to Pickleball.
Pickleball can be played by most people of any age up to 6 (even 7!) days a week. Although you can get great work out it is not as taxing on the body compared to tennis and some of the other racquet sports.
Many younger people are discovering Pickleball through their parents and even their grandparents. There are many clinics conducted for people of all ages both at private facilities and at municipal courts.
People over 55 often use Pickleball as their primary form of exercise. The younger crowd on the other hand often use Pickleball as a part of a broader exercise regime. For example, they may go to the gym and then go play Pickleball instead of doing the traditional “cardio”.
Pickleball will continue to attract “older” people as evidenced by the fact that almost any new retirement community now includes Pickleball courts and they are even now courts on many cruise ships. Having said that the notion that Pickleball is an activity strictly for the “old folks” is definitely no longer true.
The growth of the sport is also being fueled by the fact that this game is easy to learn and if played at a high enough level can be an intense work out. A very intense game at the higher levels could burn up to 1,000 calories in an hour! Another benefit is that Pickleball uses the whole body which is the most popular form of exercise these days.
Pickleball has become much more visible by virtue of the increased number of venues the emergence of tournaments throughout the country as well as exposure on the Internet and other media. People tend to enjoy sharing new positive experiences and extend invitations to friends and family to join in on the fun.
The mention of Pickleball to person at the office or at the next bar stool less and less evokes a blank stare or even a chuckle but more often: “Oh yeah – I’ve heard of that – sounds like fun.”