Does life start at 60? If anyone visits Brunswick Forest, a community near the coastal city of Wilmington, NC, and watches people playing Pickleball will certainly believe so. What is Pickleball? It is still a relatively unknown sport although it has been around since mid 1960s. It was invented in the USA. Its popularity is on the rise and it is now being played in many countries around the world. It is a racquet sport that combines the elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Pickleball courts are similar to double badminton courts. The game is played with a paddle and a perforated plastic ball and it is usually played as a doubles game. It is a game for all ages and skill levels. It is simple and easy to learn for the beginners but can be much fast- paced, competitive and strategic game for the experienced players.

I never heard of Pickleball until our search for a retirement place brought us to Brunswick Forest and our sales representative, while giving us a tour of the community, showed us pickleball and tennis courts as parts of the recreational facility. Tennis was the only game that I had played during my younger days. Now, since my tennis days were behind me, I did not pay much attention to the tennis courts but thought of trying to play Pickleball someday.

After our move to Brunswick Forest, I took few lessons and started playing Pickleball. Soon it became an addiction for me as my wife would say so. Why has it become such a passion for me? There are many reasons for it but the most important is that it has rekindled in me the spirit of competition during my senior years. Thanks to Brunswick Forest Pickleball Club and its organizers, it provides us with great opportunities for socializing and developing friendships.

Here are some of my observations about the game and I would encourage the readers of this blog to explore the possibility of playing this game whenever and wherever they can. Generally speaking, the game has no gender advantage. I have seen many times when men’s aggressiveness is neutralized by the soft and strategic placement of the ball by their female opponents. The rallies are short and the points are over quickly. This makes it easy for the seniors and the people with some physical limitations to play the game as effectively as possible. It is also not a pure physical game but has some elements of chess in it. However, it is a different story when some older players think so deeply in strategically placing the ball that they forget the scores completely and rely upon others to tell them the correct scores. The game requires quick eyes and hands coordination. It is sometimes hilarious and often annoying when someone would rely on his or her eagle eyes in arguing that the ball was in on the other side of the court near the service line. How could they see that far? We would then leave it to their eye doctors to determine that and carry on with the game. The temptation level is also very high when we play the game. We would run like a fox to chase the ball and sometimes would end up hitting us with the poles causing injury to ourselves. Where does this energy come from? Only God knows. We still remember how to smash an overhead lob but ignore the limitation of our mobility and thus make awkward move that would sometime cause a great fall. I thought wisdom rules over temptation at our age but it is the other way around when it comes to Pickleball. It is also interesting to see players wearing ankle, shoulder or wrist braces but continue playing. Nothing stops them. I feel no pain when I am playing but it is a different story when I get home. I would ask my wife why all my aches and pains return when I get home and she would say that it would not stop her to force me to do my domestic duties.

It was Michael Jordan who once emphasized on the importance of swimming in an interview by saying that he would not be able to play basketball in his old age but would still be able to swim. Perhaps, Pickleball can also be included in the list of sports that provide great pleasure, good exercise and mental alertness to people of all ages. Please play the game and have fun.



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