Episode 4 – Why is pickleball so popular?

Show Notes:

Admittedly I’ve never tried pickleball. In fact, turns out I belong to “Stage One” of the four stages of pickleball acceptance, which is ‘judgement’. Today we explore the pickleball phenomenon with my special guest Rick McCord, co-founder of a career coaching company who guides individuals through transitions and helps them discover their true passions. Rick sheds light on why this sport is sweeping the nation. Stats indicate that 20% of the U.S. population has played pickleball at least once. Despite its quirky name and being seen as a less strenuous cousin to tennis, we discover the magnetic draw of pickleball, from its inclusive nature welcoming players of all ages to the sheer joy it brings. Listen in as we share anecdotes of personal skepticism turning into fascination and learn why this game’s allure extends beyond mere physical activity.

Pickleball is about connections, community, and overcoming life’s curveballs. We highlight a story about Pete and his triumph over depression through the camaraderie found on the pickleball courts and debate the fine line between healthy competition and the pure fun of the game. Rick and I also crack up over the sport’s unique lingo that’s as much a part of the game as the paddles and the net.

In this episode:

  • The four stages of ‘pickleball acceptance’
  • Discovering the love for pickleball
  • The appeal of pickleball – age groups, low entry barriers
  • Evolution of the game over 60 years – and a dog named Pickles
  • Pickleball court etiquette
  • The game and community – new friends, social connections, and Pete’s story
  • Exploring competitive spirit versus fun
  • Detaching from winning, focusing on enjoyment and connections
  • Organizing players in phones, “Rick Pickleball”
  • Unique pickleball lingo
  • “You know you’re old when” game….

ThirtyFiveSixtyFour is your weekly dose of inspiration for navigating the exciting, unpredictable, and undeniably transformative journey of midlife. Hosted by Karen Stones, founder of 13 Jacks Marketing Agency, avoids the tired cliches of crisis and stagnation. This podcast celebrates the power of play, discovery, and possibility that comes with this unique chapter in life. Join us every week as we delve into the real stories, challenges, and triumphs of midlife. We’ll explore fresh perspectives, practical tips, and inspiring experiences that will help you thrive, not just survive, during this pivotal time. Ready to rewrite your midlife narrative? Head over to www.thirtyfivesixtyfour.com and be a part of the adventure!


Rick McCord LinkedIn
Blog Post: Why is Pickleball So Dang Popular? 
13 Jacks Marketing Agency

Show Transcript:

[00:00:00] Rick McCord: First of all, they had just shoveled off the driveway from snow. Living in Utah, it was December, and I’m like, what the heck are they doing? And they started, they put a net out and they were playing pickleball. And all I heard was laughter and fun. And I’m thinking, wow, these guys are obsessed. We should be skiing today. And these guys were playing pickleball.
[00:00:28] Karen Stones: Welcome to episode number four at 35, 64. I am so glad you’re here today. We have an incredibly heavy hitting subject for you. It’s going to be a tough one. Pickleball. That’s right. We are here to talk all about pickleball, a sport that is taking over as far as the growth and joy and love of getting out there on the court. I’m gonna tell you, I don’t get it. But that’s what we’re here to discuss. Why are so many people absolutely obsessed with this? And why is it growing faster than any other sport? But before I do that, I would like to introduce you to Rick McCord. Rick is such an incredible human. I am so grateful to call him a close friend and mentor. I met him many, many years ago, about 20 years ago at a software company where he was leading a very large team of sales executives, driving to some very big revenue goals. I ended up following him to another tech company where he was a vp of worldwide sales and services.
That company went IPO. He subsequently has been a COO, president, co founder, really all of the executive positions he has done, but I’m not here to actually pick his brain on all of that goodness. I’m here to talk about pickleball. So, Rick, it is so good to have you. Welcome to the show.
[00:02:17] Rick McCord: Thanks, Karen. It’s so fun to be here. I know we’ve talked about this for a while. I’m so proud of you for launching this and taking this big step forward. It’s really cool.
[00:02:26] Karen Stones: Well, you know, I’ve been looking forward to having you on as a regular, so I know our listeners are going to look forward to hearing you, you know, frequently, hopefully at least once a month. But when we first started talking about you coming on today, we had so many different ideas. And funny enough, I think I chose the most unexpected topic for you, and that is pickleball. Why in the world do so many people love pickleball? I don’t get it. I have so many friends that frequent the. Gosh, what do you even call it? You don’t call it a field, you call it a court. I guess they are obsessed with. They spend so much time thinking about pickleball, talking about pickleball, and here I am on the other end thinking, is this just a lazy man’s tennis? What is this? So today I want you to tell us all about pickleball. I know you’re. Let’s get to the truth.
[00:03:32] Rick McCord: Yes.
[00:03:33] Karen Stones: Okay. So tell me, why in the world do people love pickleball?
[00:03:38] Rick McCord: Well, first of all, I think it’s just kind of funny. When we were talking about topics, as you alluded to, I thought, great, we’re going to have some really interesting topics. And then when you came back and said pickleball, I thought, oh, you’re just kind of messing with me. And then, no, I’m serious.
[00:03:52] Karen Stones: Definitely.
[00:03:52] Rick McCord: And then I thought about it for, I thought about it for a minute and I actually thought, you know what? We should own this. This is totally in line with kind of your theme, doing middle age. Well, I’ll get into why I think in a minute, but. So I love that it’s fun. That kind of fits my personality. I have no problem talking about it and kind of my experience with it. I think along the way, hopefully some people can relate to it, share some funny, amusing anecdotes and some of the stories and some of the things I think others can relate to. But if you haven’t really, you know, put your toe in the water yet with pickleball, maybe this will attract some people to do it.
[00:04:28] Karen Stones: I have never played. In fact, I didn’t even know what the ball looked like until one rolled out of my friend’s car. I thought it would look like a tennis ball, you know, all fuzzy and it was plastic, right?
[00:04:41] Rick McCord: Yeah.
[00:04:42] Karen Stones: Yeah. So I am not a believer. I’m just going to start the conversation by saying, I don’t get it. There are so many other things that I feel like I can do that are sporty and fun. So tell me, how did you even get involved in pickleball?
[00:04:59] Rick McCord: Yeah, no, I think my experience is probably a lot like a lot of people, I actually love sports. I mean, I grew up. If there was a ball, if there was a frisbee, if there was something to do on the playground, I was going to go do it. So I think that’s just my nature. I like that I was involved with a lot of sports. So I have been playing tennis for a while, something I picked up probably in my middle age, probably in my mid thirties, let’s say. One of my sons started playing. So I wanted to play some tennis with him and I started playing a lot of tennis, probably more likely in my late forties, more than I’ve ever done.
So I’ve done golf, I ski. I can think of so many things I like to do just being active. And I never thought pickleball would be something that I would say I love above all those things, which is, you know, kind of interesting. And again, not a uncommon reaction by a lot of people that engage with this sport. But it started, you know, there’s this kind of. This joke. There’s this. There’s these four stages of your pickleball journey. You know, there’s the first one, which you’re on, which is judgment. You know, it’s kind of like you step back and you don’t really consider it a sport. I mean, the name is silly, right? Pickleball. So I’m playing tennis outside four or five years ago, and four tennis courts are now down to two, because now the city has made the other two courts into pickleball courts. And I’m playing over there, and I’m looking over there to see a lot of people lined up to play. A lot of different ages, senior people, very elderly to the young, you know, young people under age ten. But I saw a lot of laughter. I saw a lot of smiling, which was like, okay, hold on a second. Sports, for me, isn’t a lot of smiling and a lot of laughter. It’s about winning. Winning. So I already dismissed it. Like, come on, you know, if you can’t be serious about something, and winning is the most important thing. So I just kind of observed, wow, there’s a lot of interest in this. Sure. A lot of laughter. And then one day, I heard outside my neighborhood. I heard the sound, and I could tell it was a probably. It was like a ball. I looked outside, and there was Robbie and Mindy Okuno out on their driveway. First of all, they had just shoveled off the driveway from snow. Living in Utah, it was December, and I’m like, what the heck are they doing? And they started, they put a net out, and they were playing pickleball. And all I heard was laughter and fun. And I’m thinking, wow, these guys are obsessed. We should be skiing today. And these guys were playing pickleball. So I was just. You go from this thinking, what is this about? You definitely have some judgment because you’re, you know, looking at people as tennis people and other sports, you kind of look, no, that’s more legitimate. You know, there’s. There’s more athleticism involved, things like that. You look at some of the people playing, you’re you’re definitely thinking they’re not athletic. But what attracted me is that they couldn’t. I mean, just all the smiles, laughter, and then I was talking to a cousin of mine, and she’s started her pickleball journey. Similar. Somebody invited her to play, and then she took off and became obsessed with it. In her fifties, she became a pro as a senior. Pro woman’s player. Now think about that for a second. In tennis, my experience is you go to, you know, you start at an early age. You know, Andre Agassi, you know, picked up a racket at three. He’s off to an academy in Florida as a teenager, and next thing you know, you know, maybe after 15 years, you’re a pro. She’s a pro in two years in pickleball. So that kind of had me thinking, well, that’s really interesting. And then she was just telling me, come and try this. I’ll give you a free lesson. So I thought, okay, let’s go do that. So I went over there and we played one day, and I thought, wow, okay. There’s a lot more to this game than meets the eye. So you kind of move from judgment, I think, to this curiosity.
[00:09:03] Karen Stones: Okay, okay.
[00:09:04] Rick McCord: You know, you know, like some people are, you see, some people over there are definitely athletic, and you start to read about how popular it is, and then playing with a pro, if you will, made me very curious. So you just. I think that’s the next stage. You put a toe in the water and say, let me try this. Let me just give this a whirl. And I think, hey, isn’t this what we should be doing in our middle age? Shouldn’t we be experiencing new things? Maybe we can laugh at it a little bit. Maybe we can have a little judgment on it. But, you know, I remember somebody saying, you should try this food, you know, like sushi when I was younger. And I’m like, I’ll never try that. And I love sushi now, right? So you never know what you’re going to love. Since it was so popular, I thought, okay, there’s got to be something to it. So I’m immediately starting to feel like at the end of that, that first experience, like, I don’t suck at this game. You know, like, you think about other sports, golf, tennis. That first time you play, you kind of feel like, man, I kind of suck at this. This is hard. I haven’t even tried serving yet with a tennis ball, and it’s hard on a big court. But, you know, I like challenges, but I immediately felt like, well, with pickleball, I could pick this up. You can immediately get a ball back and forth pretty quickly. And then she started to open up my mind, like, look, there’s a lot of nuances to this, Rick. I know you like something with dick depth. You know, it can’t just be something fast and it can’t be easy. You’d get bored too quickly at it. So there’s a lot of strategy to pickleball. There’s a lot of technique. You don’t have to be athletic, but technique will trump that. And you’re going to find playing people that have great technique but low athleticism are going to kick your butt. So I said, sure, we’ll find out what that really was like. So that was my first fill in the water experience with it.
[00:10:50] Karen Stones: Yeah, that’s so interesting. So I was reading about pickleball before our conversation.
[00:10:56] Rick McCord: Right.
[00:10:57] Karen Stones: And it is growing at an unprecedented rate. It is the fastest growing sport in America. In fact, 20% of the adult population in the US has actually played pickleball in the last year. So I’m, I’m the other 80% that hasn’t tried yet. And I was really interested to hear this. So it is predominantly male. Based on the statistics right now, about 65% male. That’s not, you know, too skewed. And really, I was looking, where are people playing pickleball heavy in La metro and New York metro. So those are the two largest areas. And that would make sense based on population here. But it’s expected to continue growing at 90% growth year over year at minimum. And I’m thinking eventually someone’s going to drag me out on one of these courts.
[00:12:00] Rick McCord: Oh, it’s a matter of time. You’re going to be playing. And I think that’s the fourth stage, is obsession. Right. We’ll get into that. And why that happens a lot. Why? Why? I would say, let’s say if you took, I don’t know, 100 people and you introduced them to a sport, let’s say, like tennis or golf or pickleball. So you take 100 people. I would say that the participation rate of golf and tennis would be quite lower by half of what pickleball response rate is when people play. Out of 100 people, I would say 90% like it, and I’d say 80%, 75% start to say, okay, yeah, I’m going to play this regularly. I wouldn’t think with tennis and golf, because of the degree of difficulty, how expensive it is, accessibility to places, it just doesn’t have that participation rate that you would see from pickleball. So there’s something to it when people try it, a higher percentage than probably any other sport that I’m associated with. Respond to it. We’ll get into some of those reasons. I think there’s a number of them. But back, back to your stats. What’s interesting, I was looking at this, too. Yeah. More men have played in the past, but the largest growth is actually from women right now in 2021. That’s where the growth came. 17.6% of new players outgrew men growth by a little bit more. So you’re seeing large, large women play. I play with lots of women that are way better than me, which is interesting, because in tennis, you find that maybe the athleticism does Trump sometimes. My wife, she plays in a mixed doubles, and she says the men, they’re just always acing each other, you know, and the women are, you know, we’re kind of returning the balls. But pickleball, boy, it’s very gender neutral, I find, like that equal, equal playing ground. Wow. And, yeah, it really is surprising how it kind of neutralizes the gender quite a bit.
[00:13:57] Karen Stones: Forgive the question, but is this exercise or strategic?
[00:14:02] Rick McCord: Oh, hell yeah, it’s exercise. I mean, we’re, we’re talking about. I mean, I I’m obsessed with wearing my apple watch, like a lot of people do, or their fitbit. So now, whether the stats are right or not, I mean, at the end of, it’s easily, it’s easy to play 2 hours of pickleball. And that’s another appeal of the, of the sport is that, like, per minute, you’re probably playing more than you are with tennis, believe it or not, just because there’s a lot more rallying, there’s a lot more time spent playing. At the end of 2 hours, I can burn easy 1000 calories.
[00:14:34] Karen Stones: Wow.
[00:14:35] Rick McCord: So I’m thinking, even if that’s wrong, let’s say it’s only 500. But I had so much fun doing that. I think that’s really interesting to have that much fun and to burn some calories. And, you know, a lot of the health benefits are like, hey, zone two. This day is kind of talked about a lot. Get into zone two. You’re in zone two a lot. You’re using a lot of your core, you’re using a lot of your leg muscles and your stability muscles. Those aren’t bad things. And when I haven’t played in a while, I definitely notice, oh, wow. I definitely feel some soreness in those, in those areas. So those are all good things, I think.
[00:15:09] Karen Stones: Yeah. Okay, so if I’m invited to a pickleball game, I need to wear something, like, athletic that I would wear to the gym or something.
[00:15:17] Rick McCord: Yeah, you could wear. I mean, it’s kind of interesting, you know, in. In tennis, my wife’s got a full wardrobe of tennis skirts and.
[00:15:24] Karen Stones: Love it.
[00:15:25] Rick McCord: Of course, in pickleball, it tends to be a little more casual, but it’s. It’s basically gym clothes. I would wear some tennis shoes that you would wear on a tennis court if you’re playing outdoor. But that’s one of the appeals, I think, is the low barrier of entry. Like, when we were talking about golf.
[00:15:41] Karen Stones: Yeah.
[00:15:42] Rick McCord: Or even tennis. You know, all of a sudden, you can go and get a really cheap paddle, you can borrow somebody’s paddle, and all of a sudden, you know, the ball is very. It’s like a wiffle ball, and somebody may have a net, and you can suddenly be playing just about anywhere. So the equipment factor is pretty low. You don’t really have that much to start with from an entry level.
[00:16:05] Karen Stones: Okay. I’m familiar with tennis, and I’m a bat. I’m a bad tennis player. I can hang, but you definitely wouldn’t choose me in a doubles.
And I’ve played badminton, you know, in my backyard. So is this, like, have these of.
[00:16:20] Rick McCord: Each that’s kind of rooted in a family of. Yeah. You know what’s interesting? I think, you know, that I’m kind of a history nerd buff guy. I like history. So I had to go back and do the. What is the origin of pickleball? Because I think that’s really fascinating to find out the origin story. So when I was digging into this, it’s kind of rooted in what those sports you talked about so back. It’s almost a 60 year old sport. What’s so fascinating about it? It was started by, you know, somebody in Washington in a summer vacation. They had a bad mitten court. The kids were getting kind of bored and restless, and so the adults said, hey, let’s go out to the badminton court and come up with some way to play with the badminton court. And they took a wiffle ball type ball, and they took some ping pong paddles, and they started hit balls over the badminton net. Now, the badminton nets high, right? I mean, it’s up off the ground. So when they started to do that, people started having fun. The young, younger kids could start playing. The adults were playing, and quickly, it evolved. Within a few days, they’re like, whoa, let’s take the net down because it’s a little harder to do for the younger kids. So they put it down kind of like tennis, and off they went. They came up with some interesting scoring systems, kind of kept evolving, playing with it, and boom, they had a game. And the neighbors around them came around and they started to teach the game. And so from, you know, that’s ground zero, like island off Seattle, where somebody had a vacation home in the summer, and it became kind of this local family tradition. And they came up with the name, which is kind of funny. The name is silly, I think, right to the judgment.
So the story is, and there’s a couple of stories, but the main one I’ve heard the founder say was one of the founders had a dog named Pickles. And so as dogs like to do, they’ll ran and chased down the ball and took the ball and ran off in the bushes. And so eventually they kept saying, oh, this is pickles ball, you know, like pickles apostrophe ass ball. And then eventually they just said, you know, let’s just call this pickleball. They shortened the name.
[00:18:28] Karen Stones: No kidding.
[00:18:29] Rick McCord: But it started there on this attempt to do a little bit of badminton with ping pong paddles and somewhat tennis, like smaller court. Right? Badminton courts are much smaller, but it’s. It’s pretty much that size. Well, I think it’s kind of fun about that. I don’t know if you’ve ever created a game when you were a kid.
[00:18:47] Karen Stones: Yes.
[00:18:48] Rick McCord: You know, yes, I have my family, I have four kids. They still talk about the game that we had in our basement that I made up. We’d go downstairs, turn the lights out. I had a ball, you know, and we called this dark ball. We made up rules for it. It’s kind of fun to see the genesis of games, like, you know, how an innocuous, let’s get the kids outside doing something fun started into this phenomenon. But from Seattle, it went to PE court. You know, they started taking it into schools and things like that. And then a lot of kids in junior high would play it. And it was really around 2000 that started. More and more people started playing it, probably in the retirement area. And then I think COVID is really what made it crazy popular, to be honest. And we’ll get into that in a second.
[00:19:35] Karen Stones: Yeah. So I get the game a little bit better now, but I still, I don’t understand that piece. The obsession, and I really am talking straight obsession. People talking about it nonstop. Their strategy when they’re playing next, who they beat, the new court that’s being built down the street. Yes, it is everywhere. And I I chuckle every time, but there is real passion for this, and I I need to know why that happens.
[00:20:11] Rick McCord: And again, you’re. You’re eat. Drinking it and you’re dreaming it. There’s. Sometimes I’m like, why am I dreaming about pickleball? I can’t explain it. I don’t remember dreams, but somehow I remembered playing pickleball in my sleep last night. So it’s kind of funny, but I think there’s a number of aspects. I mean, as I mentioned, there’s like this, okay, right out of the gate, somebody that isn’t necessarily super athletic can start rallying with somebody else on the very first day, immediately. So the fun factor, immediately, you can pick it up. So, this learning curve isn’t steep, but the depth of the game is deep, deep enough. And that it hooks you in and pulls you in to say, oh, there’s so many levels to this. You know, I can start here, and within a few months of playing, you’re pretty good. You’re pretty good. You know, you’re what I call it, beginner intermediate. And you could just have a lot of fun being a beginner intermediate right there. Never advance anymore. But then you start to realize, wow, there’s all these strategies to it. It’s more chess than it is checkers, which I like. You know, I think I would be bored if there wasn’t some more depth to it. I think the fact that there is a lot of strategy that you start to see and learn, the game slows down, and then you start to see all the techniques you’ve got to get good at to get to the next level. Then you’re realizing, okay, I want to keep getting better at this because this is another thing to draw me back. You know, I don’t know. Just the idea that we like challenges. You know, I think that you doing a podcast is a perfect example. You know, that we want new experiences. We want to be able to have something that tests us, and, I don’t know, something that tests increases your creativity, your mental stimulation. What do you want to call it? But skill development, that’s really appealing to us as we. As we get older. I don’t want to ever lose finding new things to try, but it has to have something that grabs me. And those elements that I mentioned where there’s a lot of quickness to learning. Fun factor is super fast, and another part of it people love is that it’s super social.
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So tell me, what do you mean by social? Because when I play tennis, you know, we meet up and we hit the ball. And so what’s the difference? And what do you mean by, you know, super social?
[00:23:29] Rick McCord: Well, I would say those are, those are social, too. Right? But on a degree of social level, pickleball is a whole different level. And I’ll tell you why. One, it’s like you can go find, I’ve traveled with a paddle on business trips or vacations with a paddle, and I can go and find a court and a court full of strangers, and I immediately get invited in. It’s like this. It’s part of the culture, okay? Like, it really promotes playing with strangers, the way they’ve set it up so that you can come to a court. And if all the courts are full, there’s a way to play, hey, we’ll invite you into this court. That’s really interesting to me. Right? Because you don’t see that necessarily with tennis. You have to organize. Like, my wife has a tennis group and they play. But the fact I went and saw my mom in California and I was going to stay a couple of weeks because she was moving and stuff like that. So I brought my paddle and I go down to the courts. There’s like eight courts at this place. And you show up and the guy’s name was Pete, let’s say. And he’s the ambassador of the court. Yeah. They literally call him ambassadors. And he gave me this button to put on my bag, you know, and say, hey, I want to welcome you. This is how we do it here. You know, when you’re waiting, you can put your paddle up here for, if you’re at this level and you just work in and, you know, you play a game till eleven, and then when you’re done and games to eleven or what, 15 minutes, ten minutes. Then when you’re done, you come off and the other people rotate in there was probably, there was eight courts, four people per court, 32, another 16 people waiting. And, you know, I go out and start playing and you get to know Wade and you get to know Cindy and you get to know John. And like, these people, I don’t know. I’m from Adam. And by the, after 2 hours of playing, I’ve got all these people from writing that I knew and that’s where my mom lives. And I think that’s really fascinating. And I’ve done that many, many times that you can show up and meet people that you’ve would have never met in your life via pickleball.
[00:25:36] Karen Stones: Yeah. That is so different than tennis. If you’re not off the court by the time that next person is signed up, you know, you’re getting the stink eye. So that is very, very different. I didn’t know that you could just kind of roll up anywhere, anytime and not know anybody.
[00:25:53] Rick McCord: Yeah, you generally can. Like certain times of the day, you know, certain courts have what they call as paddles up, which is in the, which means we’re going to have a place where anybody can show up and you can work your way into the games and you want to be, you know, smart about not just playing with somebody that’s really, really good. And if you’re a beginner, you kind of gravitate to beginners. But I was talking to Pete. This is one thing I find very fascinating about the social aspect of it and how some of my best friends now, I would say I’ve met in pickleball in the last few years, and I’m a social person, right. I’m an extrovert. So if you’re not an extrovert, maybe this isn’t your thing. But talk about new experiences, don’t you think? New experiences are not just places and food and hobbies, but it’s people that you meet in your life, I think that very adds to the fullness of life, getting to know people, their stories. So Pete was telling me, I was talking to him like, he’s super friendly. Everybody likes Pete. You know, you can tell he’s a good player, super popular. And I was just talking like, man, Pete, like, how long you been doing this? He says, rick, let me tell you my story. He said, I didn’t start playing pickleball till about three years ago. And I had zero friends in my life. Zero. None. I was highly depressed, severely depressed. And I was wandering through here. It was near a park. I came over to kind of check it out, see what the big, you know, why there was a crowd. It really looks kind of interesting what people are doing. Somebody started talking to me, stuck a pedal in my hand. I started playing, and three years later, I have hundreds of friends. I just met a new friend today. His name’s Rick from, you know, Utah. That’s remarkable, Karen.
[00:27:33] Karen Stones: It really is.
[00:27:35] Rick McCord: Isn’t that cool?
[00:27:36] Karen Stones: It is. I’m slowly leaning towards this sounds pretty cool, actually. I don’t think there’s a lot of places that bring together community like that amongst such a diverse age range. You know, athleticism, interest, background.
It’s just actually, it’s quite heartwarming, to be honest.
[00:27:59] Rick McCord: Yeah. And that small court does promote chatting. I feel like the games are fast. That promotes a lot of things, too. But, yeah, I think from one aspect that I never anticipated, that the health benefits were better than I thought they would be. And you can play singles in pickleball as well. Most people play doubles, but I play singles from time to time. And I’ll tell you what, that definitely gets my heart rate going. Like, if I hit workout type tracking, like, my heart rate gets up in the 80, 90%. The court’s small, but you’re moving, like, constantly tracking things down, running things down. So you can play singles and get a really high intensity interval workout training type of exercise, or you can do more of a zone two type of workout, which isn’t bad. Right. And that contributes to your royal health. But I think it’s that I didn’t expect. But the social connections. Wow. I mean, talk about when you look at, like, Pete, you know, what it’s done from a mental health for him. I think that’s remarkable. And I look forward to meeting new people in pickleball at a venue that I’ve never been in, some far out place. And there’s going to be somebody’s story like Pete, or somebody who’s fascinating. And like I said, I’ve met some of the favorite people that I know in my life, I’ve met in the last little while just playing pickleball. Like, I would never have met them ever socially without this. And you look forward to going down and playing with these people. And I think that’s really kind of nice when you start to look forward to something for the next day, right?
[00:29:36] Karen Stones: Yeah.
[00:29:36] Rick McCord: You wake up thinking, isn’t it great? I could go do this for my health. I get to do this for my social. I have a lot of fun doing it. I think that’s why you start to look forward to it. You start to crave it in those aspects.
[00:29:48] Karen Stones: Yeah. Yeah, I’m starting to connect some of the dots here. You know, the largest study on happiness done by Harvard points consistently back to quality of relationships. And it sounds like you’ve really found quality relationships, you know, since the onset.
[00:30:09] Rick McCord: Of starting the sport, surprisingly, you know, and I think it’s. Well, with COVID I think people wanted to get out, too. Right. And they were, they were craving that, too. I just think we, I think most happy people do crave social connection and human connection. But what’s so interesting, I don’t even know what religion, I don’t know what their politics are. I don’t even know. But we connected over this sport. I like that. I don’t want to know your politics. Sorry. I don’t want to know. You know, I don’t care about that. I fact that we could have fun together, you know, that’s a blast. And I did. I want to say this, it did take an adjustment. I’m a competitive person. I don’t know. Would you describe yourself as fairly competitive?
[00:30:52] Karen Stones: It’s funny. I wouldn’t, but everyone else around me would.
[00:30:55] Rick McCord: Yeah, I’m. I would say it serves me well. And it’s also. It could be a weakness. Right. It serves me well. Being in tennis and other sports really multiplies the fact that you need to be competitive. But going into pickleball, I saw, remember my experience from the outside is there’s a lot of laughing, there’s a lot of smiles. And it took me an adjustment to go over there like Lila, my, my, my cousin, she’s nothing but smiles and fun, but she has no problem playing a really hard game and taking me down. But. So I kind of think it’s instead of competitive slash friendly, I think it’s more friendly slash competitive. And that’s okay. So you can. Winning is fun, but losing, you know, you just got to let it roll off your back. And I had to adjust to that. But I think that serves me better, detaching myself from winning first and having fun second. Now I make it about fun first and connecting to another person. And, you know, whenever I catch myself kind of getting serious, oh, wait, let me put a smile back on my face, you know, and make sure I kind of remember, laugh and learn. I make a bad shot. I’m not going to throw my racket, you know, I’m not going to get mad. I’m not going to storm off. I’m going to have fun with this. I’m going to have more fun with this than I’ve ever had. Some of the players I play with, they take it a little seriously. I tend to gravitate to those that are fun first, but competitive. I want to be around them. Somebody walks in with a scowl on their face, grouchy face. I don’t really like playing with them. I find I like, you know, some of my favorite people, like Lila, I mentioned, and this other one person in KJ. They’re just always happy, delightful people to be around. And I don’t know, that’s a great way to start the day or end your day is to be around people like that. So I think I got to be like them. I want to be that kind of partner to the other person that I’m playing with.
[00:32:53] Karen Stones: We were talking the other day about our phone book in our, you know, on our mobile device, and we both had different analogies. So I currently am in a relationship, and I have been for a while, but I was dating for some time, and you would reach out to people on these apps, and you would exchange numbers, and you would put next to their name. Rick – eHarmony or Joe – Tinder, whatever it is. And so you know where to reference these people, because they’re not necessarily close friends, but you need to know who they are when they pop up. And so tell me about what your phone looks like.
[00:33:40] Rick McCord: Yeah, there’s a lot of first name, last name pickleballs. So there’s a big family of pickleball. So Dave Pickleball, KJ Pickleball, Steve Pickleball. And I just. I associate them to like, oh, we want to have a quick game. I mentioned the accessibility of it, the easiness to pick up a game. It’s not so easy to do that. Sometimes in tennis or other sports, I literally can go out to a group and say, anybody want to meet at the park today at noon? This is like 30 minutes from that time, and it’s going out to a bunch of people. And, yeah, I can get there, you know, and again, I don’t need to have a perfect number. It doesn’t have to be perfectly four. We could have 5678, and we can work in really fast because the games are fast. So, you know, again, if you’re looking to find some friends quickly, and I just track people by last name, first name Pickleball. It’s kind of funny, but I think everybody does that. Somebody asked me, what’s your. What’s your name? And they. I watched him put them in me. And as Rick Pickleball, you know. Yeah, yeah, I’m Rick Pickleball.
[00:34:42] Karen Stones: So what Rick pickleball are some of the funny, funny terms that you might hear out on the court.
[00:34:49] Rick McCord: I was joking with you about this. I said, you know, when you start to hear the terms, you kind of raise your eyebrow a little bit. Like, you hear paddle, dink, dinking, stay out of the kitchen banger. And you’re thinking, what the heck am I getting into?
It’s like a 50 shades of gray game or something.
So it’s just kind of a silliness of the game. You hear that don’t get pickled, nasty nelsons, you know, like, you just hear these funny expressions. You know, all of us pickleball players, we use them like their everyday language, lingo. But yeah, if you’re walking by, you’re kind of like, what the heck’s going on over there with these? Yeah, you know, I’m a, I’m a, I’m a good tinker. You know, you go around and say that, you know, because it used to be an expression of kind of taking somebody down. Don’t, don’t be a dink, you know? Now if you want to be a.
[00:35:40] Karen Stones: Good dink, I’m just, I’m dying over here. This, this is funny.
[00:35:46] Rick McCord: You have to have fun with it.
[00:35:48] Karen Stones: Yeah. I could see how this would bring a smile to your face. Getting some exercise, whether that’s intense or, or even just getting outdoors. For goodness sakes, too many of us get stuck, stuck in the office, sitting in our chair, or stuck at home. Just getting outdoors is a good step, let alone having fun with cool people. So, okay, I’m not.
[00:36:11] Rick McCord: Check boxes. Yeah, think of all the boxes that just checked off. And again, back to why you started this podcast, right? It’s about having this full living, you know, through our middle age. Like, keep adding things, keep adding people, keep adding experiences. Don’t stop, don’t get status quo. Have something to look forward to. Trips, people, vacations. Yes. That interests, hobbies, you know, things like that, I think are really some of the spices of life. I was, I’m a big history eye. As I said, I was reading about Winston Churchill. It was in his middle age that he picked up painting. He was a game changer from him. He suffered a little bit from depression and the High Stress of, of the jobs that he had, but he picked up painting and it changed his life. I don’t. So I think, I think we all crave something that is interesting, new, that we can add to our lives that we hadn’t done five years ago, ten years ago. I think that’s really cool. So pickleball could be it for now. And I’m never going to stop. I’m going to keep adding stuff in my life, but I have become Obsessed with pickleball. I was thinking, you know, am I really obsessed? Well, I with did Play four times last week and I probably averaged 2 hours per time. You know, it goes by really fast. I’m thinking that’s 8 hours of pickleball that I just played, not even blinking an eye. I think that’s pretty interesting.
[00:37:30] Karen Stones: Yeah, that, that is. Okay, so I’m going to ask you a tough question. You play out on the courts in Utah, so I’m sure some of your friends are going to listen to this episode. What would you rate your skill at? Ten being I’m a pro and one I’m a beginner.
[00:37:49] Rick McCord: Oh, that’s a great question. Now I got, this is a funny story. So when I started, I thought, oh, I’m coming from tennis. This is pickleball, right. So I’m going to be pretty dang good right out of the gate. And Lila, my cousin, was saying, oh, you got to go over to this place and play. But watch out for Cheryl. She’s pretty good. You can don’t try to play her and see kind of how you stack up. I go over there, find out who Cheryl is. She’s a great grandma. Okay. I’m not kidding. She’s in her late seventies.
[00:38:19] Karen Stones: So you’re thinking her, you’re going to cream her, right?
[00:38:22] Rick McCord: I thought Lila was pulling one on me. So I’m thinking, okay, we’ll play. She owned me. She destroyed me. She did. I got destroyed by a grandma. So it humbled me immediately. I’m not so good at this. And Cheryl, you rock, you know? And then I play with a lady named Jane. She’s 86. Unbelievable.
So I realized then that, okay, this game is a little bit deceiving. These people were really good, not because they were super athletic, but they had good technique and touch and stuff like that. So I started being very athletic, moving, you know, like a tennis guide. Sit back on the baseline and hit the heart ball hard and, you know, Cheryl, it. But then it would just touch it over the net and I would, I’d lose the point. So I had to learn. And I would say in three years, I would say I’m probably an advanced intermediate. That’s where I’m at.
[00:39:17] Karen Stones: Okay. Yeah. So 7.5.
[00:39:20] Rick McCord: No, I think in pickleball I’d probably be a 4050 is really, really good. 50 is right. Probably before you’re starting to think about playing severe, serious, seriously big time players. So I’d say I’m a really good intermediate.
[00:39:35] Karen Stones: Okay.
[00:39:35] Rick McCord: I’m happy, happy with my game. It’s fun to always get better, but I’ve kind of detached from, like, I have to get good, I have to be this level because again, I started to feel like it took away from the fun and I made that first, like, I’m using this to get a mental stress relief from life. Have the health, the outdoor, the vitamin ds. But I’m not going to get so wrapped around the axle that, you know, I’m going to have to become a 50 or go pro. But I’m always working on stuff. It’s always fun to try to get better, but I like where I’m at. I think it’s still fun to be where I’m at.
[00:40:11] Karen Stones: Well, I’ll make you a promise before we record another podcast.
[00:40:19] Rick McCord: Yeah.
[00:40:19] Karen Stones: So give me like a couple of weeks, but I’ll get out there, I’ll try it and I will report back. On my scale of, this is terrible to, this is amazing. I’m now obsessed, or I will be obsessed soon. I will report back.
[00:40:36] Rick McCord: Well, yeah, go find somebody that will be patient with you. Like Lila was patient with me, and just hit the ball over the net and then try to learn a little bit of play a game or two. And then when you have that put away where you get to smash it at somebody and you hit that powerful overhead, you’re like, oh, that felt good. You start to get like, wow. You start to walk back to your car, put your paddle in the trunk, and you think, maybe I could be Roger Federer, you know, because you felt like you didn’t suck that bad in your first attempt. Like, you can be good at it quickly and you have a few good points and rallies immediately. So the time to value, the speed, to have fun, I think it’s one of the better returns that you can have, right? Maybe you’ll meet somebody new along the way, that you’ll feel like, like I said, some of my favorite people in my life that I would never have had as close friends now are close friends. Not that you can’t have that in tennis, right. But it’s just a smaller circle again. I can show up in northern California and people remember me and I fit right in. And it’s really cool to be able to do that. And I think that’s one of my favorite aspects of it.
[00:41:49] Karen Stones: All right, well, thanks for sharing, Rick. You know that at the end of every episode. We always do a game and it’s called, you know, your old one or, you know, your middle aged one. So I have a couple for you. Are you ready?
[00:42:04] Rick McCord: Sure. Bring it.
[00:42:05] Karen Stones: Okay. You know your middle age when you can look at your closet and spot at least one to two items of clothing that no longer fit, but you’re keeping them because you think one day you will, oh, gosh. Do you have old school clothes or is this. Is this a female thing?
[00:42:28] Rick McCord: I probably have clothes that I should have thrown away a long time ago, like a typical guy. Like, are you still wearing that shirt? You know? Yeah, I still like that shirt. I would probably say some old jersey, you know, of an old, like, somebody that played on the 49ers, you know, 20 years ago or a jersey from somebody from basketball that I liked, you know, from the eighties or nineties.
[00:42:52] Karen Stones: Yeah.
[00:42:52] Rick McCord: That kind of defines me a little bit, maybe. Do I have any, like, members only jacket in my closet that would. That would definitely age me, right?
[00:43:02] Karen Stones: Well, no, those are back. Those are hot.
[00:43:06] Rick McCord: All right, I better pull that one out.
[00:43:07] Karen Stones: Wear one of those out to a pickleball game and see what people say. I guarantee you will get some. That’s badass. Yeah, for sure.
[00:43:15] Rick McCord: Really nice. I’m always going for that.
[00:43:17] Karen Stones: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Okay, here’s. Here’s my other one for you. You know you’re old. When a road trip that used to be, I would say non stop, you’ve made three bathroom stops.
[00:43:36] Rick McCord: Oh, wow.
[00:43:39] Karen Stones: Totally true.
[00:43:40] Rick McCord: I am one of those guys that my wife jokes. She’s like, you never have to use the bathroom. She thinks, I’ve got a problem with that. I can go. I don’t get up in the middle of the night, generally. I don’t. I don’t necessarily stop. So I’m the worst. Maybe I don’t drink enough water, but I haven’t crossed over into that yet, to be honest. I have a friend, though, joking aside, like, we go to the movies, he has to sit on the aisle.
[00:44:06] Karen Stones: Yeah.
[00:44:06] Rick McCord: Like, legitimately has to sit on the aisle, because then a two hour movie is going to get up three times. And I like Kevin, I don’t ever want to go on a road trip with you because this is a two hour movie and you’ve got up three times. So I’m. I don’t know. Maybe it’s one of my superpowers. It’s kind of. I don’t get it. You know, I wish it was something else, like, you know, understanding women’s feelings. Like my wife’s at times, but I’d rather. But for whatever reason, that’s my superpower. I don’t really have. That’s really.
[00:44:35] Karen Stones: I learned something new about you and I.
[00:44:37] Rick McCord: There you go. I was bragging about my superpower of not having to use the restroom.
[00:44:42] Karen Stones: That’s good. I was talking with friends, and we’ve actually raided, you know, gas stations because we do stop because some of us have children and they stop. But even when we’re driving together, someone always has to go to the bathroom within 20 minutes. And it’s like, okay, I can make it 30, but we gotta stop soon. So it’s definitely not something that would have happened in my twenties. We would charge out to Las Vegas, you know, five hour drive from LA.
[00:45:10] Rick McCord: Right.
[00:45:11] Karen Stones: Nonstop. Easy. Now there’s at least three or four stops.
[00:45:15] Rick McCord: Yeah. I think I could go the whole trip to Vegas from LA and be, wow, good shot. Even with a big gulp in my hand the whole way, I think I could do it. Like I said, I’m not trying to brag, but it’s. It’s true. Now, that’s not good for people that have to stop. Like, I’m like, oh, really? We’re making good time, and I’m thinking, all right, I gotta be. Gotta be patient with you guys that have to stop three times, you know?
[00:45:41] Karen Stones: Yeah. I’m not opposed to have some grace for you. Yeah. You could just put on the adult diaper and just charge, you know?
[00:45:51] Rick McCord: Please. No. Oh, gosh.
[00:45:54] Karen Stones: I know people that did that at a concert that they didn’t wanna miss, so they actually bought depends. It was a Taylor Swift concert, and I’m neutral about Taylor Swift. I don’t particularly listen to her. I don’t particularly like her. But they didn’t want to miss a moment, so they went to the store and bought some diapers. That was shocking.
[00:46:19] Rick McCord: And part of me thinks to find something you’re that passionate and excited about that you would go to that length. I actually kind of envy them. And then another part, I feel sorry for them. Sorry. I mean. I mean, I don’t have anything, like I would ever go to that extreme, honestly, to say, I’m so committed to this. I’m gonna. I’m gonna get an adult diaper. I don’t know, but like I said, I. Maybe I’m just should be envious that they have found that kind of passion for something.
[00:46:46] Karen Stones: Yeah. Yeah. Well, maybe you’ll need one one day when you don’t want to leave the pickleball court.
[00:46:54] Rick McCord: Yeah, there could be. Maybe there’s a business opportunity. You know, come up with pickle branded diapers. I think you’re onto something. That could be. This could be how I get rich in my retirement.
[00:47:08] Karen Stones: You never know. Well, Rick, thank you for coming on today. We can’t wait to have you on again.
[00:47:13] Rick McCord: Sure. Yeah. And I’m sure I’m going to hit a do a hard hitting topic next time about. I don’t know what that’ll be about, but it won’t be as hard hitting as the pickleball episode, right?
[00:47:23] Karen Stones: Exactly. All right. Thanks for joining us, Rick.
[00:47:27] Rick McCord: Okay, fun to see you. Thanks for having me on.
[00:47:30] Karen Stones: And that brings us to the end of another episode. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did. Okay, so if you haven’t already, make sure to hit that subscribe button so you never miss another episode. If you’re loving what you hear. I would be incredibly grateful if you took just a moment to rate and review this show on your favorite podcast platform. It helps others discover us and it’s a great place to share your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas for future episodes. For even more exclusive content and detailed show notes, check out our website at thirtyfivesixtyfour.com. As always, a huge, huge thank you for spending time with me today during this episode. I appreciate that you tuned in. I’m going to leave you the same way I do every episode. Remember, it’s not too late, you’re not too old, and you’re definitely not dead. Okay, until next time, friends.

  • Karen Stones

    Show host Karen Stones is the creative heart of ThirtyFiveSixtyFour. Born in 1979, Karen is a child of Generation X. As a podcast enthusiast, she noticed a major void in content catering to listeners her age. Karen found existing productions were either niche, evangelized negative perspectives on aging, or hosted by a well-meaning young adult who lacked the wisdom and life experience to provide meaningful insight. Thus, ThirtyFiveSixtyFour was born. The philosophy behind ThirtyFiveSixtyFour stands in stark contrast to the conventional midlife crisis narrative, advocating instead for midlife to be seen as a time of confidence, reinvention, growth, reflection, exploration and renewal.

    Karen has over twenty years of mass communication and marketing expertise. Her journey in media started early, as she interned for notable figures like Larry Morgan and Ryan Seacrest at the Los Angeles FM radio station STAR 98.7. During her university years Karen served as a disc jockey for the on-campus, student-run radio station. Following a successful career in the corporate world, she took the entrepreneurial plunge, founding 13 Jacks Marketing Agency in 2014. The agency currently oversees multimillion-dollar projects including global product launches, international events, specialized social media and advertising campaigns. Beyond her agency pursuits, Karen extends her expertise to coaching executives seeking to enhance their business strategies and personal growth. Based in Orange County, California, Karen is a dedicated mother to three and an outdoor enthusiast.

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About the Author

Show host Karen Stones is the creative heart of ThirtyFiveSixtyFour. Born in 1979, Karen is a child of Generation X. As a podcast enthusiast, she noticed a major void in content catering to listeners her age. Karen found existing productions were either niche, evangelized negative perspectives on aging, or hosted by a well-meaning young adult who lacked the wisdom and life experience to provide meaningful insight. Thus, ThirtyFiveSixtyFour was born. The philosophy behind ThirtyFiveSixtyFour stands in stark contrast to the conventional midlife crisis narrative, advocating instead for midlife to be seen as a time of confidence, reinvention, growth, reflection, exploration and renewal.

Karen has over twenty years of mass communication and marketing expertise. Her journey in media started early, as she interned for notable figures like Larry Morgan and Ryan Seacrest at the Los Angeles FM radio station STAR 98.7. During her university years Karen served as a disc jockey for the on-campus, student-run radio station. Following a successful career in the corporate world, she took the entrepreneurial plunge, founding 13 Jacks Marketing Agency in 2014. The agency currently oversees multimillion-dollar projects including global product launches, international events, specialized social media and advertising campaigns. Beyond her agency pursuits, Karen extends her expertise to coaching executives seeking to enhance their business strategies and personal growth. Based in Orange County, California, Karen is a dedicated mother to three and an outdoor enthusiast.