Hello and welcome to aging matters a program featuring individuals who talk about aging related issues of interest to older adults and their families i'm cheryl beversdorf your host pickleball is the fastest growing adult sport in the nation and can be played by just about anyone including adults over age 55.

Older adults enjoy playing pickle wall because it's a low impact sport and allows them to compete and have fun without excessive wear and tear on their bodies today i have two guests the first is kristin larrick associate executive director of ymca arlington tennis squash and pickleball center and.

She is joined by her mother carla larrick former senior vice president of operations with ymca washington she's also an avid pickleball player kristen and carlo will give us basic information about pickleball and describe health benefits for older adults and how to play safely to avoid injuries they will also talk about.

Pickleball classes and where to play in the washington metropolitan community later in the program they will show us pickleball equipment and basic rules for playing the game so welcome kristen and carla and thank you for joining me today thank you so much for having us okay well carla let's start with you we need a little bit of an oversight here about.

Pickleball what is pickleball and what is its history well pickleball was founded in 1965 and there were three families on vacation and they were looking for something to do so they started hitting a wiffle ball over a badminton net with ping-pong paddles.

Believe it or not and there it was pickleball was born and and is it very popular now throughout the united states oh 4.2 million people are playing pickleball to date and as you said it's the fastest growing sport in america and pickleball got its name because one.

Of the families had a dog named pickles so now we know now it's the dog that that uh who was named pickle so okay well kristen why has pickleball become so popular amongst people of all ages what do people like about it yeah so it's a really easy sport to learn and play it's mainly played in doubles and the.

Court size is about half the size of a tennis court so it's much smaller and because there's doubles you're covering more ground and you're closer together much more social you can have more of a conversation while playing having fun you're also covering less ground because of the size of the court so that's lower impact so all ages can play my mom and i.

Love to play all the time at the ymca we can keep up well together because again it's more side to side a couple feet it's much smaller court and we can keep up as a family my dad and my brother love to join us as well so all ages can get along and keep up pretty well together and so one of the things that i was.

Wondering about is physical shape do players need to be in good physical shape to play pickleball i'm thinking older adults may not be quite as spry perhaps as young people so what can you tell us about that yeah so if you have any concerns like heart conditions or any prior injuries we always recommend that you consult with a.

Doctor other than that it's a really great way to start your fitness journey again it's smaller it's lower impact it's a good way to get out there and increase your physical fitness you know get healthier so again consult with your physical doctor but at the same time you know it's a good place to.

Start and to that point should people kind of do stretches or some kind of uh warming up exercise say before the they start the game yeah always always so we always make sure that everyone warms up before they set foot on the court you want to be all stretched out you want to.

Be warmed up before you start moving it's really easy to pull a muscle once you get playing people get so excited that they don't want to warm up which is common in any sport but people want to just jump out there and have fun again always warm up because you do not want to get injured and you know ruin the rest of your.

Season and so talk a little bit more kristen about health benefits um and i'm thinking not only just physical but perhaps emotional social um what what would stimulate older adults to want to play this game yeah so again it's a great way to start your physical.

Fitness journey you know it's fun to play while getting out there and having that physical activity it betters your cardiovascular fitness it betters your mobility it increases your balance which over time as you age you lose balance right so you need to increase that muscle mass it'll keep you on your toes.

You know less risk of falling it's really good to stay in shape it's a ton of fun so it's really good uh physically to stay in shape and then also emotionally right so like you said it's a social game so it gets you out there with your friends your family um you know it's positive everybody is always very inclusive they want to have.

A good time so it's a very fun way to get in that physical activity and you'll never even know that you're working out and even mentally is there like concentration and skill would you yeah i think that that's a part of it i think everyone always loves to master something so if you can start a new sport and get really excited about.

Progressing in that sport that's a positive like thing to go through right so we're all going to feel better about getting better at a sport again i always have support from my mom my family like we're having a ton of fun out there so when i step off the court i'm always in a really great mood emotionally.

It's just such a good time you can't really be sad but to that point though i might there be reasons kristin that maybe people shouldn't play pickleball i mean what kind of caution maybe do we need to to talk about here in terms of that possibility so again if you have any heart conditions or joint injuries.

Potentially bad balance you do want to consult with a doctor before playing we always recommend that you supplement weight training alongside to keep up that muscle mass so that you don't have injuries it's a very explosive sport so it's more reactionary again it's smaller so it's lower impact but here and there you're.

Going to be taking a step for a ball right so it's very easy to potentially pull a calf muscle you know your achilles tendon happens commonly a hamstring so of course you want to always make sure that you're in shape keeping up with it it's easy to get injured just like any other sport but it is a lower impact so i would say.

It's a much better sport to start with or for the aging individual to start with as well for lower risk of injury and i would i would suspect that probably if you haven't done any physical exercise in a long time you might be kind of start out slowly yeah so you always want to start slowly and.

You want to make sure you stay on top of working out and keeping up that muscle mass so you don't have a risk of falling or getting hurt again it's a good place to start it's a very slow game it's easy to learn so it's a good place to start and then supplement that training but we do recommend that you have you know good.

Balance again and a good history with working out and being in shape before playing but it's also a great way to start getting into fitness so one thing also i wanted to ask you about kristen is it possible to be injured playing pickleball yeah so again just.

Like any sport it's very easy to get injured any bad step if you don't warm up beforehand you're not stretched out it's easy to pull that calf muscle your hamstring a lot of the times it's so much fun it's easy to get out there for three hours next thing you know you have no more water right so you want to.

Make sure you're always hydrated i bring a gallon bottle every time i hit the quartz because it gets really hot out in the summer right so i want to always stay hydrated and that also keeps me from cramping as well so yeah there is always a risk of injury but again if you consult with a doctor before playing if.

You have concerns or you're keeping up with your physical fitness and your muscle strength then you have a less risk of injury also awareness of the court so if a ball it goes behind my head you know it might not be a ball that's worth my time to go run for and potentially fall backwards right so just stay aware of what balls.

Are worth going for and what balls are just uh you know i lost the point i'll get the next one right and i did hear you say about checking with your physician is that something that a lot of older adults do is to yeah definitely especially as you're aging you know more risk of you know heart conditions muscle imbalances.

Lack of balance you just always consult it's better to know beforehand before you start from a doctor okay well we got the basics here so carla let's let's get back to you um obviously you're an avid pickleball player and tell us about what your experience has.

Been in terms of obviously you're a woman and you play are there a lot of men that play too i mean do both men and women play pickleball yeah it's definitely a co-ed sport and if you sign up for tournaments you may find that they have a women's category a man's category and a co-ed category so you can do any of the three um and you know we.

Play as a family and you know it's a great sport it's social so everyone kind of comes together and yes so to that point so women can play with men and and vice versa and so it kind of mix and match sort of thing as well and um do they are they also teams i guess that's one of the things that i was.

Wondering is it singles or doubles or what does that look like both mostly doubles in pickleball which makes it great for aging because you don't have as much court you have to run on and but we do play singles that's much you know a higher level you've got to be more in shape for singles but um yes both okay.

And and what about skill level i mean i'm assuming as kristin was talking we start out with somebody who's never played pickleball and you've got the other person who's been playing for years so how does that work in terms of forming a team or finding a player are there are there first of all let's talk.

About different skill levels is that the case a beginner would be at a 1.0 and go all the way up to advanced which would be an 8.0 and everything in between so it's nice to match up with you know someone in your level so that you know it's better playing that way but you know people do play players do play with the beginners and vice versa and it's.

Great to play with someone that's more advanced because then you're going to improve and and the nice thing about pickleball being as social as this everyone comes together and they're willing to play with the beginner the advanced person is willing to play with the beginner player so it's it's nice especially at the drop-ins.

Okay and i was also hearing you say about you start out at one and you go to eight who makes that determination as to whether you're a one or a five or a seven the organization that you're playing with will will rate you and you know at with whether you're at the ymca or somewhere else okay and so they make.

The determination as to what level you're at yes and are people always happy if they uh maybe not but you know and you work your way up the ladder to a different level and a lot of people most people are around about 3.5 4.0 the average aging person like myself.

But it's uh you know all different levels play together it's it only matters when you're in a tournament just going to drop in and round robins and things is not as important but in tournaments they're going to want to know your level so they can place you with the right people so it gets a little more serious than in terms of.

What your level okay well to play pickleball players must be familiar with the equipment they need and what the rules are so kristen and carla will give us tips about how to play and enjoy the game so let's watch so to start playing pickleball you have.

To have the right equipment you'll see my mother and i are in athletic clothing leggings a nice pullover i've got a tennis skirt or a pickleball skirt honestly you can wear whatever you want anything goes as long as it's athletic you can move around you can sweat whatever's comfortable.

Next you need to have the right shoes so you'll see our shoes below we have court specific shoes tennis shoes pickleball shoes you want to have the right grip for the court surface so that you don't have any injury next you need to have a pickleball it's just like having a tennis ball but it's made of plastic and it has holes so.

It's a little bit of a harder surface a little bit slower when it moves and then you've got your paddle this is made of graphite or composite it's a harder surface similar to a ping-pong paddle a little different from a tennis racket that has strings and is a little bouncier this is a harder contact.

And you'll hear that nice dink sound so to get started in the game we've got a not to scale pickleball court normally the pickleball court is 44 feet in length 20 feet in width and seven feet makes up your kitchen otherwise known as the non-volley zone very easy to put and set up in your back.

Uh backyard or your driveway um or on any hard surface so i'm gonna show you how to serve this begins the play for pickleball i'm aiming cross court so you'll see this box and this box as well we've got the service boxes right back to start and then you've got your partners box i want to aim cross court to the same.

Box across to my opponent i'm standing behind the service line otherwise known as the baseline to start the game with the serve i'm dropping the pickleball and i'm contacting with an underhand serve not like tennis we are not doing overhand it's underhand the paddle is below the wrist which is below the elbow.

And the contact is below the waist there's two ways that you can serve you can either drop the ball and let it bounce or you can drop the ball and hit it out of the air so i will show what a serve looks like out of the air and my mother will show what a bounce serve looks like.

Good both were cross court so if i were to start the game with a serve hitting it across the net crossed to my opponent and they hit it back let's say we win the rally as the serving team we win a point we would then switch sides and i would continue the serving for my.

Side so again taking that serve if we win the point we switch back i'm still the the first server if i were to make this serve and lose the point my mother would then become the second server she would then continue to serve.

Until we lose the rally or lose the point and then it goes to our opponent so you'll note that there are two servers next i'm going to talk a little bit more about the kitchen so coming up to this short line it's only seven feet from the net again this is not to scale.

This is otherwise known as the non-volley zone so any time that a ball is hit back over the net if i am standing in this seven foot kitchen area i cannot hit the ball out of the air i must be behind this line anytime the ball is hit and it drops i can step into the kitchen hit it off the bounce and step right back out.

This also goes for if i hit the ball and i fall in the kitchen off the momentum still no point i lose it i lose the rally if i hit the ball and my watch falls in or my hat falls in the kitchen i lose the rally so at no point in time should you be standing in here unless the ball bounces and you need to retrieve it and.

Immediately get back out you don't want to lose the point all in all that's everything you need to know to get started in pickleball sign up for some lessons get out on the court and have a great time with all your friends and family i hope kristen and carla's demonstration has helped you better understand.

What you need to know and what you need to have in terms of equipment to play pickleball so a few more questions that i wanted to ask you kristin i'm going to start with you how do now that you've shown us what we need to do and what equipment we need to have.

How do good pickleball players get to be better players what can you tell us yeah so the more you play the better you get just like any coach would say practice practice practice makes perfect you know any clinic you can take the ymca has many coaches they do private lessons they do clinics group lessons drop-in which is also pick up play is.

Another great place to practice those skills that you have learned so we highly recommend taking a private lesson and learning more about pickleball and bettering your skills and then putting them into play while you're playing and drop in and i know that you each of you are at.

Different locations and and i was just wondering are there a lot of people that spend a lot of time practicing pickleball yeah so most people who are avid pickleball players will continue to play every day to better their skill it gets exciting when you get to master a sport like pickleball.

So a lot of them will come to our lessons in clinics and then again go to drop in and put all that into play you know it just depends on the person some people might just come by for a good time once here and there but again most people once you've picked up a paddle and played pickleball you get obsessed with the sport you can't put it.

Down and you want to get better and do they practice by themselves also or do they need to practice with a partner you can but more than likely you will be playing with somebody else since the sport is played with a partner and four people on the court okay um you can practice serves by yourself you can practice a couple touches over the net.

By yourself but again it'll be more than likely two people at least so you can hit back and forth over the net okay so carla i wanted to get back to you in terms of tournaments you mentioned a little bit earlier in terms of you get scored in terms of how good you are and what your your skill level is tell us a.

Little bit more what what happens at pickleball tournaments well i just recently played in a tournament and they're so much fun everyone loves competition so once you you know master the skill or you at least you're feeling comfortable you go into your skill level and play with someone in a tournament and and when you win that you move on to.

Play the next group of players and so it's really really fun competition makes it exciting so well and but are there like just one game or three games or five games in a tournament what can the one i played in was six games okay and then they score what.

Your score is and then they add it up and they find out of the four of you uh what's the highest score and then you move on to play the next group so and they're different ways but that's that's one of the um most popular and common ways and then if you lose you can't go on that's right then you get to watch okay and you learn from watching and the.

Other thing in terms of tournaments uh first of all when and where are they played are they played all the time or certain times of the year or what yeah well you know at the ymca we were going to have tournaments coming up that i hope you'll all get involved in but also you can go online and find all kinds of places.

Pickleball's everywhere now parks recreation center so everywhere you go you're going to find pickleball but i hope you'll come to the ymca because we have some great programs as she said drop in pick up um you know round robin's leagues and tournaments and so and they would be again for all levels older dolls as well as younger.

Folks and then all skill levels too absolutely sounds like a lot of tournaments yes different we have a lot to offer when it comes to pickleball and other sports okay and so kristen i wanted to get back to you because you're at the ymca in arlington does the ymca offer classes for men and.

Women to learn how to play pickleball tell us a little bit more about these classes yeah of course so it's an all-inclusive sport obviously men and women we have private lessons so one-on-one with a coach you can learn probably the most with a one-on-one time with a coach we have group lessons you can sign up.

You and your friends if i wanted my family to come sign up i could learn from a coach and then just clinics usually about eight to ten people on a court learning the generic how to play or depending on your skill level right so if i'm an intermediate player i would sign up for more of an intermediate class and learn.

A little bit more in depth about pickleball whereas our beginner classes are going to be more the basics and how to play and if they want folks want to that are watching the show want to sign up do they have to come over there in person or can they sign up online or how does.

That work yeah so you can always come in person you can also visit our website it's www.ymcadc.org pickleball has all the information we have three facilities right now that offer pickleball we have outdoor courts at bethesda and silver spring and then indoor courts at the arlington tennis.

Pickleball and squash center so it's readily available for anybody who wants to sign up and then they would have to pay a fee as well yeah so we have a membership we also have a non-member option as well you would pay additional prices for the programs that we offer in comparison to our members but just depends how involved you are and we have.

A like i think over a thousand players in our association um so it's very easy to find a partner and get on the court and you're ready to go okay and i'm probably making a question or asking a question that you could you know show some bias here but where are the best places to play pickleball in arlington.

But i'd like to expand that a little bit more to around in the metropolitan area are there better courts in certain places than others what what what would you tell us yeah so obviously the ymca again the arlington y has six indoor courts and the bethesda and uh silver spring ymcas have 14 and eight outdoor.

Courts you can also go to any local recreational park a lot of people are painting them in their driveway you can use chalk you can use tape very easy you can find courts almost anywhere if there's a tennis court there's probably.

A pickleball court it's very popular it's growing um you know a lot of tennis courts are being converted to pickleball courts so you could probably drive a mile from your house and find a court somewhere readily available so is pickleball kind of going beyond tennis now and becoming more popular i'm curious.

I think there's definitely potential for it i think it's headed that direction now who knows in a couple years where it could be but it's so easily accessible and because it's such a small court again people can paint it in their driveway it's easy to find you have a tennis court you can easily paint two.

Pickleball courts on that you just need a net and you're ready to go and i do know that the community centers there are five community centers in arlington that also offer i don't know if they all have pickleball courts though i think yeah so it's it can be a little harder to find pickleball specific dedicated courts.

A lot of them are just taped in the gym on a gym surface we have more of a court surface which is a little bit nicer to play on especially with joints but it just depends where you go it's very easy to find and if a person just wanted to know a little bit more about pickleball not necessarily where to play but just.

Learn more about it what would you tell us yes you can always start on the internet you can research almost anything there's youtube videos on how to play there's youtube videos on how to serve how to do every basic move in pickleball you can read about it you can also visit ppr which is the pickleball professional.

Pickleball registry they have lots of resources on there that's where we got certified through and and then you can always come to the y again visit our website we have all the coaches that can teach you everything and more to better your play or even learn how to play pickleball well.

If you want to be popular then doing pickleball is what you should do right it is okay well i want to thank kristen larrick with the ymca arlington tennis squash and pickleball center and carla larrick an avid pickleball player for joining me today this program is broadcast sundays at 5.

30 p.m and wednesdays at 6 p.m on comcast channel 69 or verizon channel 38 in arlington virginia or streaming live at these times on arlingtonmedia.org aging matters is also on the radio the program is broadcast every tuesday at 2 p.m and friday at 4 pm on wera arlington 96.7 fm and by the way be sure to check out the aging matters website.

Agingmattersonline.com for more information about all of our radio programs and tv episodes thank you for watching aging matters tv show today please join me again for the next show and until then remember age is just a number not a label.

Pickleball is the fastest growing adult sport in the nation and can be played by almost anyone, including adults over age 55. Kristen Larrick, Associate Executive Director (YMCA Arlington Tennis, Squash & Pickleball Center), and Carla Larrick, former Senior Vice President of Operations (YMCA Washington)and avid pickleball player, offer essential pickleball information and demonstrate equipment and basic rules for playing the game.