Tennis, cricket, netball, athletics, gymnastics – whatever it may be that you enjoy, think of the benefits that you get out of sport: a sense of community, a chance to socialise, a fun way to keep fit and healthy, improved confidence in yourself and better mental wellbeing. The list goes on and on!
But what happens as you get older? How do you get all these benefits if your body isn’t up to skidding around a tennis court?
The answer is pickleball!
Pickleball is typically played in pairs, similar to doubles tennis, badminton or table tennis. It is played on a badminton-size court with a tennis-size net.
Strategy and patience are key elements of the game, with soft drop-shots or volleys, known as “dinks”, an essential part. While you may not have heard of it (I certainly hadn’t a month ago!), it is already huge in America with nearly 9 million regular players. There are already a number of interstate competitions in Australia and Aussie representatives playing at international events.
With the passion of the team at Pickleball Victoria it is no doubt only a matter of time before the sport really takes hold!
Recently, my partner and I went along to The Physio Co Victorian Pickleball Championships in Somerville (yes, TPC is the major sponsor!). The whole event with over 300 participants was organised entirely by volunteers, including the Pickleball Victoria Committee.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mimi @connectcreatephotography
One of the best things about pickleball is its inclusivity. A highlight of attending the Victorian Championships was seeing all ages having a go and getting involved.
While the youngest player in attendance was 17 years old, most players were over 50, 60 or 70 years of age! It was incredible to see so many older people giving it a crack, especially when most sports are dominated by the younger generation. We even saw age gaps within individual teams. That is one of the amazing things about pickleball: it involves a lot of strategy, meaning a game between a 25-year-old and a 65-year-old can be very competitive!
The Victorian Championships event was such a welcoming environment. While sports clubs can often be hyper-competitive and somewhat intimidating, this was not the case at the TPC Victorian Pickleball Championships.
Pickleball is an amazing opportunity for older people to rekindle their love of sport, and for anyone, of any age, to pick up a new sport – or even a first sport! As a person with limited experience playing racquet sports or even team sports, it is quite something when I say pickleball is something I am excited to try.
Keeping active is so important for our health right throughout our lives and gets arguably even more important as we grow older and our physical function starts to decline.
The benefits of exercise and sport for countering this decline are clear. There are physical benefits, such as reduced risk of falls and maintaining your ability to function in day-to-day life, as well as huge benefits to mental wellbeing including a chance to socialise and improved self-confidence.
We were told an amazing story of an 84-year-old gentleman who was reportedly getting fitter and fitter practising playing pickleball and is now able to run back and forth around the court!
What an incredible initiative by the Pickleball Victoria Committee, getting this highly inclusive sport off the ground and creating a much-needed opportunity for older and younger people alike to keep active and enjoy themselves playing sport. It’s a sport we’re right behind here at The Physio Co!
Find out more or find a club via the Pickleball Victoria website.
Article written by Tessa Machin, TPC physiotherapist