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Rick Clendenen, 72: The Joy of Pickleball

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Meet Rick Clendenen. He’s one of the 2023 Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes, and he’ll be sharing updates on his health and wellness journey through the rest of this year. Rick, age 72, has always been an active athlete. After a knee issue took him off the volleyball court, Rick discovered the pickleball court and quickly became not only a fan, but a skilled player and advocate for other older adults to get involved with one of the fastest-growing sports in the country.


Hello Senior Planet! I’m Rick Clendenen and I will be hosting informational sessions and writing about pickleball this year as a Senior Planet Sponsored Athlete. I’m 72 and I grew up in the Midwest, born in Ft. Wayne, IN. I have stayed active in many sports throughout my life — basketball (I am from Indiana!), racquetball, table tennis, and lots of volleyball. I have enjoyed playing in many national volleyball tournaments including the Huntsman World Senior Games.

About two years ago, when a knee issue became a serious detriment to playing volleyball competitively, I needed to reconsider my focus. My wife and I live on Camano Island, Washington, which is one hour north of Seattle. I noticed a two-line ad to “Learn Pickleball” in a small local paper. I tried it, and liked it…a lot!

Camaraderie and Competition

“There is a strong communal aspect to pickleball, as many people play mainly for fun and friendship — while getting good exercise too!”

I really enjoy pickleball because it is very social, and it can be competitive too. There is a great club here on the island, and there are always many opportunities to work on improving. There is a strong communal aspect to pickleball, as many people play mainly for fun and friendship — while getting good exercise too!

Pickleball is played with a paddle and what is basically a “Wiffle ball,” on a fairly small court with a net.  There’s not too much running, and there is a wide range of people that enjoy playing. For those that like being competitive, you can take it up many levels both locally and nationally.

I am a member of the Camano Stanwood Pickleball Association, which has grown to 350 members. I manage and teach in the club’s mentoring program, and I lead the Tournament Committee. I am also proud to have been elected to the Board of Directors. The club hosts six main events for both fun and competition each year.

Your Chance to Learn

I hope you’ll join me on Zoom next Wednesday, March 15 at 1:30pm EST for the first of a two-part presentation all about pickleball. I hope to cover the following questions and topics related to the basics of the game:

  • How do you find and get involved in pickleball?
  • What is needed to participate?
  • What are the court lines and rules?
  • Suggestions for warm-up and strength
  • Playing the game with varied participants
  • Good technique for serves and returns
  • Keeping score

In part 2, we’ll summarize the basics, and then go into further development of skills. Stay tuned for more details… I truly look forward to sharing the “joy of pickleball” with the Senior Planet network this year!

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