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The invitation was friendly and informal: “Come join us for pickleball tonight.”

My first reaction was, What the heck is pickleball?

Larry (second from the right) and his pickleball friends at a recreation center near Washington, D.C.
Larry (second from the right) and his pickleball friends at a recreation center near Washington, D.C.

If you live in or visit any physically active 55-and-older community, especially in Florida, you’re probably already familiar with the game.

It’s a cross between badminton, tennis, and table tennis, played on a 20×44-foot court, about the size of a doubles badminton court. The paddles look like oversized table tennis racquets and are used to bat around a Whiffle ball that’s about the size of a tennis ball.

In fact, the rules and the height of the net are similar to tennis.

The more cynical among us — me, included — sometimes refer to the sport as tennis for old folks.

But think what you will, pickleball is a heck of a lot of fun, it gives players a great workout, and is yet another arrow in the quiver of social and physical activities available and appropriate for Boomers.

Friends Betsy and Bill Wiley are the heart and soul of our relatively small contingency of local rec center pickleball players. But the game is growing in popularity and every week or so seems to bring us new players, some experienced and some new to the game (as I was about a year ago).

Betsy and Bill Wiley showing off medals they won in a pickleball tournament.
Betsy and Bill Wiley showing off medals they won in a pickleball tournament.

As someone who also plays tennis, those first few games for me were a challenge. The ball doesn’t bounce nearly as high as a tennis ball, and because it’s Whiffled (a word I think I just coined), skilled opponents can administer some wicked spins.

But it doesn’t take long to get into the swing of things.


So, if someone invites you to play pickleball, take them up on it. No former experience in any racquet sport is required, and the game offers a great workout and social outlet.

In fact, our group’s experience is that “All pickleball players are nice people,” a point of great pride for us, and the reason we like to get together twice a week to play.

About The Author

Larry Checco

Larry Checco

Larry Checco is president of Checco Communications and a nationally sought-after speaker and workshop facilitator on leadership, organizational management and branding. He also serves as a consultant to both large and small nonprofit organizations, companies, foundations and government agencies.

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