Planning matters

Pickleball Mania – Have You Joined the Fun?

We’ve heard many of our clients talk about the fast-growing sport of pickleball in one capacity or another. So we thought we’d take a break in our regularly scheduled financial planning programming and discuss this fun, easy, and social game. 

Until last winter, I didn’t know too much about pickleball, other than my in-laws were really into it. My father-in-law told us multiple times prior to visiting him in Palm Springs last spring to bring our tennis shoes so he could teach us to play. And, he did just that. Quickly my family of four fell in love with a whiffle ball, a paddle and calling out phrases like, “in the kitchen” – a slang term for the non-volley zone on the court. 

Pickleball Basics

If you are unfamiliar with the basics, pickleball is a paddle sport that is often described as somewhere halfway between tennis and ping-pong. It is played either as doubles (two players per team) or singles, although doubles is the more common and certainly more fun. 

A standard pickleball play area is the same size as a doubles badminton court and measures 20 × 44 feet with the net set at tennis court height. There are a number of easy to grasp rules, but the biggest difference between pickleball and tennis, is the “serve” and the “kitchen.”

In pickleball, the serve is made underhand and paddle contact with the ball must be below waist level. Much like tennis, the serve is made diagonally crosscourt and must land within the confines of the opposite diagonal court. The “kitchen” is a 3.5 foot wide section of the court closest to the net and extends to each sideline. As mentioned, it’s not uncommon to hear yells of “kitchen!” followed by bellows of laughter during a game. Even seasoned players can find themselves celebrating a great volley, only to realize they’re standing in the kitchen where volleys are a big no-no.

Pacific Northwest Roots

Pickleball was born on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in the mid-1960s. It’s said that Congressman Joel Pritchard and his friend, Bill Bell invented the game to give their families something to do on vacation, after they couldn’t find all the pieces to the badminton set. For the first few decades, it was considered an obscure Pacific Northwest sport until it made its way south to warmer climates where it became popular with retirees.

My daughters on the pickleball court in Palm Springs.

Today, it’s considered the fastest growing sport in America with 4.2 million players in 2020, a 21 percent increase from 2019. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, nearly 30 percent of “core” players are under the age of 35 – something I can attest too based on my 12- and 13-year-old daughters loving the game just as much as their grandparents.

So, if you are looking for a new social outlet, have fun, get some exercise and learn something new – I highly suggest pickleball. The local Community Centers – Firstenburg, Marshall/Luepke and Vancouver Tennis Center all have courts, as do private facilities like Lakeshore and Green Meadows.

In your next meeting with us, let us know if you’ve joined in the pickleball fun. Although we know the game doesn’t relate directly to financial planning, we do know that staying active, both physically and socially, has profound positive effects on life in retirement!

Written By Rachel Gorretta