MySeniorCenter Fun Facts

Tuesday, February 1st, 2022


With the 2022 Winter Olympics starting this week, it makes sense to dedicate this issue of Fun Facts to the fastest growing sport in the Senior Center universe... pickleball! If you don't already play, I'm willing to bet you've heard about it from those of us who do. It's easy to learn and doesn't cost a lot to play. And it's social, fun, and can be enjoyed by virtually any age group. If you haven't heard of it or seen it played, here's a 96-second video overview.

Because pickleball (PB for short) is great for all ages, it has become incredibly popular in the last 5 years at Senior Centers. In this issue, we'll look at HOW popular it has become, who is playing and how to best manage your new courts and games through MySeniorCenter.

And don't forget to vote for your favorite logos! We'll recap the results next month. See the section on the left called "It's Time To Vote!" for more information and just click on the Olympic rings to vote for your favorites. At some point we'll be done with this pandemic and evaluating your brand will come back to the forefront. Plus it's fun to see all the great logos!


Welcome to...Fun Facts - the It's a Pickleball World edition

Enjoy!

Pickleball Y'all

In 2015, pickleball (or pickle ball as some spelled it then) was an outlier activity. It was only offered at a handful of Centers. Since then, it has steadlily increased in popularity and is now offered at over 250 Centers across the MySeniorCenter Network. In 2021, the total number of players passed 500,000! With the exception of 2020, where just about all activities were cancelled or scaled back, the trend has been headed up, but the boom in 2021 was bigger than expected.

As mentioned above, PB has a lot to offer participants: socialization, physical activity and mental strategy. When playing against people of a similar level, it's also FUN. Indoor and outdoor courts are popping up everywhere. If you have a PB question or story that you'd like to share with the Network, please drop us a line.

Gonna Fly Now

If you've met anyone who has had a sip of the pickleball Kool-Aid, you know that we're a passionate bunch about this new(ish) sport. While we can't get into the minds of players to see what makes them tick, we can take a look at some pickleball player characteristics:

The age gap was surprisingly large. We thought it would be younger than other fitness, but not 3.5 years. We decided to look at that more closely:

Nearly a quarter of all players are under 65. PB provides a great opportunity to bring in younger members and keep them engaged through their 70's. Since PB is a new game, it's very likely that the 70-74 bubble will continue playing in the future.

We Are The Champions

We combined pickleball participation with the most recent census data to get a sense of where pickleball is most popular. We wanted to look beyond geography to understand community characteristics. These next two charts are about the communities where pickleball is played, not the players themselves:

The metro status numbers are pretty even. While there are more players in the suburban areas, it's not by much. Community per capita income of $40-50K is the sweet spot for pickleball play organized through the local Senior Center. Income level of less than $22K was also quite high.

Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now

If you're thinking about starting up a program either by partnering with your local tennis club, recreation department, or using your own courts, here are the most popular PB class types across the Network:

The fact that drop-in makes up more than half of the playing time is great because it means you don't need to find an instructor for clinics or set up any leagues or tournaments. People just want to play. We found another interesting statistic that points to the set-and-forget nature of pickleball: in 2021 34% of all pickleball registrations happened online at MyActiveCenter! Non-PB online registration is just over 8%. We also noticed that the vast majority of Centers that offer PB do not charge anything. While there may be membership fee requirements, there are only a handful of Centers that charge a drop-in fee.

Summary

While PB may not be in the Olympics (yet!), that doesn't mean it isn't a big and growing sport at Senior Centers. If you offer this program, we'd love to hear any stories or tips you have about making it successful. Please drop us a line.

Let Your Thumbs Do The Walking

Help out the Network by voting for your favorite logos. Your opinions will greatly benefit Centers who are looking to re-brand in the near future. Keep an eye out for the results next month!