Chuck Sudo – April 18, 2019
As the sport’s popularity surges, adding pickleball facilities could be a competitive advantage for senior living providers courting tenants.
Pickleball combines elements of tennis, ping pong and badminton, and is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. Nearly 3.1 million Americans play pickleball, according to the USA Pickleball Association’s 2019 pickleball fact sheet. That’s a 12% increase, year-to-year.
The sport is proving especially popular with older people. Among players age 55 and over, 75% indicated they play more than eight games a year. That demographic is also demanding pickleball courts as part of senior living communities, Kolter Homes Vice President of Marketing John Manrique told Senior Housing News.
Kolter Homes developed a portfolio of nine Cresswind active adult communities in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Manrique has first-hand experience watching pickleball grow in popularity with Cresswind residents during his five years with the company.
A group of pickleball players at The Villages, a retirement community in Florida.
To meet the demand for pickleball from residents of Cresswind at Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia, Kolter Homes repurposed a couple tennis courts for pickleball. For Cresswind at PGA Village Verano, its newest community in Port St. Lucie, Florida, Kolter Homes built 27 pickleball courts on site, including a tournament-quality court.
“We have more demand for pickleball than tennis,” Manrique said.
The pickleball craze is no passing fad. The newly formed Prime Senior Living Group will include pickleball in its amenities package for middle-market seniors. Moceri Companies’ Blossom Ridge in Oakland Township, Michigan includes pickleball. And The Glen at Scripps Ranch, a CCRC in San Diego, will have pickleball courts when it opens later this year.
A simple, low-impact exercise
Seniors embracing pickleball are attracted to its simple rules and its low impact on knees and joints, and studies have shown playing pickleball regularly can improve fitness levels in seniors.
A 2018 study conducted by Western State Colorado University found that seniors playing pickleball three times a week saw improvement in blood pressure and cardiovascular fitness. Pickleball also helps with hand-eye coordination, Manrique said. Pickleball rules are similar to tennis, except the serving team must let the initial return bounce once before it can be hit. After that, players are free to hit the ball mid-flight to catch the opposing team off guard. Scoring in pickleball is similar to volleyball. Games are played until one team reaches 11 points, and wins by at least two points.