What Is The Best Age To Start Pickleball?

What Is The Best Age To Start Pickleball

Pickleball is a growing game that includes elements of both table tennis and regular tennis. Players play on a court slightly smaller than one for tennis and use large paddles to hit a plastic ball that closely resembles a “Wiffle ball” over the net and onto the opponent’s side. It is an excellent game for all ages, so long as you can hold a paddle and run around a court.

Defining Goals

Before getting your child involved with pickleball, it is imperative to define appropriate goals. Are you simply looking for a fun hobby or getting your child into a serious program/club that can aid them in their future college pursuits?

Pickleball, like many sports, instills values such as teamwork (in doubles), dedication, exercise habits, and determination. It opens doors for socializing and teaches strategy and hand-eye coordination. Pickleball paddles and Wiffle balls are the only necessary equipment, and you can find courts by searching “pickleball courts” on the internet. Additionally, there are specialized balls for pickleball which you can get on Amazon or at most sporting goods stores. This makes the sport very accessible.

Ages 3-5

Pickleball is similar to tennis: it involves coordination, cardio, and enough strength to hit the ball over the net. Ping pong is a great place to start if you want to get your child ready for pickleball once they are older. Practicing with the smaller table tennis paddles will be easier, and it will help them establish muscle memory when the time comes to play pickleball.

Another option is to buy junior paddles for your kids so the game will be easier for them to handle. Start things slow and stick to the basics. Teach your kids how to hold the paddle and hit the Wiffle ball with a straight wrist so the ball does not shoot off at an odd angle.

Ages 6-11

At first, it may be a little difficult for your child to get the hang of the game, but with practice, improvement is inevitable. The game's rules are fairly easy to get the hang of, so your child will only need to know the basics at this point. Pickleball is a great way for kids ages six to 11 to have fun, socialize, and get outside. It is an excellent family activity that fosters friendship and strengthens relationships.

Ages 12 and Up

Older children will be able to grasp the game quickly and have the strength and energy to keep up with adults. At this age, kids should be able to get their serve locked in and understand the tactics and strategy of the gameplay. You can expect the game to get more competitive for older children, but it is still a great way to simply have fun and socialize. Clubs and teams are always an option. Most schools do not offer Pickleball as a sport, but even hanging out with family and friends allows older kids to practice and have fun.

For Future College Athletes

Pickleball is not an officially recognized college sport. There has been a push to see pickleball become more integrated into collegiate sports in the near future. However, in the meantime, there are many college pickleball clubs, so the opportunity to play pickleball in college is still available. College clubs and pickleball players can receive funds from the USA Pickleball Grant Program, and these grants are usually around $350. Since colleges offer pickleball as a club, getting in is only as difficult as signing up.

For Future Professional Athletes

Becoming a professional pickleball player carries much more strenuous work than becoming a collegiate-level athlete. If you want to prepare your child to accomplish this achievement, no time is too early to get them started. Like any professional sport, mastery in the subject takes time, effort, persistence, practice, and determination.

The PPA, or Professional Pickleball Association, offers tours for men's and women’s singles and doubles, as well as mixed doubles. The professionals in these tournaments are serious athletes, so it will take significant training to play at this level. To be recruited, they must have years of practice playing the game.

Safety Concerns

Pickleball is an incredibly safe sport, but like any sport, it still has some risks. Potential dangers involve slipping while running, heat stroke or exhaustion, dehydration, asthma attacks or getting winded, and essentially the same risks inherent in the game of tennis. Make sure your child is hydrated and wearing sunscreen, and you are all set! Avoid letting them play on rainy days if you worry about them slipping and getting hurt.

FAQ

How do I get my kid started with pickleball?

To get your child started with pickleball, you will first need to buy them a pickleball paddle and some Wiffle balls. Next, search “pickleball courts near me” on the internet to find a court. From there, you can have them practice hitting the ball over the net and getting a feel for the court, equipment, and game. If they enjoy the game, consider signing them up for a pickleball club or classes so they can practice playing with other children.

How old should my child be to play pickleball?

Pickleball is increasing in popularity because just about anybody can play it! Children can start pickleball at any age as long as they are able to grip the paddle and safely navigate the court. Even if they cannot hit the ball over the net, it is never too soon to get them some junior paddles and teach them the basics of holding the paddle and hitting the ball.

Can I teach my child pickleball?

Yes! Pickleball is a simple game with rules overlapping that of tennis and ping pong. If you are familiar with the rules of the game, you should be able to teach your child the basics of pickleball. If you want your child to play at a more advanced level, consider having them work with a coach or join a club.

How do I pick a pickleball coach for my child?

To find a pickleball coach, start by searching online for pickleball clubs near you. Try and find a team and coach that fits your child’s personality. If you want more of a one-on-one approach with professional pickleball players as coaches, some great resources include Pickleball Coaching International or the Professional Pickleball Registry.