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COLUMN: You’re never too old for pickleball (VIDEO)

Clifford Crandall Jr.
Sentinel columnist
Posted 7/3/22

Clifford Crandall Jr. has a message for everyone over age 60: “Get up, get moving, and enjoy yourself!” Crandall has produced a video series, “Still Alive and Kicking.” Check out the video in the article.

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COLUMN: You’re never too old for pickleball (VIDEO)


Clifford Crandall Jr. has a message for everyone over age 60: “Get up, get moving, and enjoy yourself!”

Crandall has produced a video series, “Still Alive and Kicking,” promoting life-enhancing activities for seniors. Crandall said he got the idea for the series about three months ago when he realized he would soon be 75 and saw what he describes as resignation from people as they age.

Each month, Crandall will feature a column about a specific activity, and post a 60-second video showing him involved in each activity with family and friends, encouraging others to go out and give it a try.

For July, Crandall chose the sport of pickleball.

(Get more in this video.)

Staying involved in life improves our health and allows us to look forward to tomorrow. We are bowling balls on the alley of life.

Let’s stay out of the gutter and continue to have an impact on the pins, or I would say the options of life itself. We can still hit some strikes, change that final score sheet, and set a goal for the next generation to try to beat.

Considering time is not on our side, let’s get to it. I am suggesting today for you to try pickleball. It has been around for a long time and in the last few years it has become very popular, and yet I have talked to many people who have not even heard of it.

This activity is growing so fast with new courts being built every year in more and more places, and often times indoor facilities are available during winter months as well. It is a great game for young and old. You are out in the fresh air and exercising your body and mind while having fun with friends or family.

What do you need? Sneakers, pickleball paddles and pickleballs, which are similar to a wiffle ball. Equipment for pickleball is reasonably priced and can be found at your local sports stores or online retailers. For the past few years, my wife and I have enjoyed this sport. It can be a very fast, challenging game of eye-hand coordination and response, which is why people of all ages enjoy it.

However, I believe it is ideal for older players because it has a much smaller court than a tennis court, allowing you to get from one side to the other without killing yourself. The paddles are light and easily controlled and do not demand a great deal of arm or hand gripping strength. The area up next to the net, which is sectioned off by painted lines, is called the kitchen. You are not allowed to hit the ball when volleying if you have either foot in the kitchen, which means no running up to the net to spike a ball. Also, the scoring is short and sweet.

A game goes to 11 points although you must win by 2 points. You get one underhanded serve and keep your serving rights as long as you get the point. Note, I said underhanded serve, no big power serves, although some people who are good at this game can put a good spin on the ball.

Two games out of three wins the match. Keeping score is straight forward for singles but can get confusing in a doubles game if you’re new to the sport. You can normally play a game in about 15 to 25 minutes. A match might take an hour. You can last an hour and for the rest of the day say, “I got my workout in, I played a tough pickleball match this morning. So yes, I will have that ice cream.”

The Pickleball Nationals were aired a few months ago and even the pros do very little running around to get their point. Packing your pickleball paddles and a ball or two takes up very little space in your suitcase, allowing you to play wherever you travel, as I and my wife do.

Check the internet for pickleball groups and indoor and outdoor locations to play. You’ll be surprised at how close a court may be to you, and you can also buy a kit online that will convert a local tennis court into a temporary pickleball court. The rules are easily found on the internet at and you can view how-to videos on YouTube. Check it out and have a good time!

Keep in mind: This an old Chinese proverb that I changed slightly and share with my instructors – “Although the birds of doubt, disaster and doom are constantly flying over our heads, it doesn’t mean we have to let them make a nest in our hair.”

Clifford Crandall Jr., 75, is founder and grandmaster of the American Martial Arts Institute, 8382 Seneca Turnpike in New Hartford. He has produced a monthly column and video series, “Still Alive and Kicking,” promoting life-enhancing activities for seniors.


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