A Tale of Two Pickleballers
Note: Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Bill and Fred, both in their 70′s, wanted to try the fastest growing sport in America – Pickelball, a cross between tennis and badminton that has become a huge hit with older adults because a player needs to cover less space and the ball travels with less velocity. Like tennis, it still offers lots of quick stop/go movement, reaching, twisting, striking, and sometimes falling.
Within a week of each other, Bill and Fred hit the court with some friends. Bill’s matches resulted in a hip injury that sidelined him, while Fred enjoyed his matches and looked forward to future ones.
So why did Bill get injured while Fred did not? Both men are physically active and lean. Bill is a few years older. That could be a factor. Maybe Bill played more aggressively or for too long. But, without knowing all the particulars, we suspect those weren’t the problem.
The major difference between the two men is how they exercise. Bill spends most of his time doing classic aerobic endurance exercise, like cycling and walking. Fred does a more diverse and physically demanding regimen because he participates in the Younger Games twice a week. More than just cardio endurance, he works on flexibility, agility, strength, and power. He practices how to fall and roll, how to accelerate and decelerate, jump, pivot and move laterally. As a result, Fred is less prone to injury than Bill.
Check out this article by a healthcare professional about how to avoid injuries in Pickelball, which is all well and good except for what’s missing. No wonder ERs, as well as chiropractic and orthopedic offices are crowded with injured older adults! There’s no mention of the single most important thing you can do to avoid injury in any sport or, for that matter, daily life – basic physical training.
Trying a new sport like Picklelball is exciting and worthwhile for people of all ages. However, just like competitive athletes, everyone needs to develop their strength and other physical capabilities so they can safely join in the fun, especially older adults.
Training for total body fitness is no guarantee a person will not get injured in a new sport or activity, but it sure improves the odds. Just ask Fred.