Aging gracefully – pickleball in your 70’s. Here is a reprint of the May 2014 Surprise Pickleball Newsletter (Surprise, AZ). Thank you to Suz Liley for allowing me to share. And my disclaimer: Bob Youngren is my dad 🙂
Are they freaks of nature or is there some secret to turning 70 and still being superb pickleball players? Bob Youngren and Rich Scaare, two of the most talented and congenial men to ever play pickleball recently participated in a joint interview exploring some of the skills and attitudes that have made them great.
Q: RICH AND BOB: You’ve both played pickleball for over 15 years and you’ve still got game. Do you even feel like there are any changes in your play since turning 70 in the very very recent past?
Rich: I feel like my game either peaked when I was a lad of 65 or else the kids under 50 have gotten a lot better. I work hard at maintaining my old skills by playing a lot. My reflexes are as good as ever, but my ability to play all day and still get up the next morning is gone, replaced with aches and pains.
Bob: Physically I might be a little slower. Mentally I think I’m still 50.
Q. Emotionally do you feel the same?
Bob: I feel I’m as competitive as when younger. Winning is still fun, but now I simply enjoy playing pickleball at a high skill level.
Rick: Same here. I don’t feel the need to win at all costs. BUT–I’m thankful just to still get to play.
Q: Have you made any changes in your game that you might not have made if your age had stayed the same?
Rich: Actually, the change I loved was turning 70 and being able to compete in the 70-74 age group. That probably isn’t the change you were looking for.
Bob: I’ve learned to dink more rather than relying on all power.
Q: Specifically, how do your speed, footwork, reflexes, eyesight and endurance compare?
Bob: I use orthotics in my shoes, neoprene calf support, Advil is my best friend and I have a protein smoothie for breakfast.
Rich: You know, I really feel that my speed and reflexes are about the same due to playing regularly. But my energy and stamina have diminished in the past five years. And my eyesight–now there’s a problem. Forget “watch the ball all the way to the paddle.” I’m playing by Braille.
Q. I have my own ideas, but in all modesty, what do you think has made you so successful?
Rich: Probably my quickness and reflexes, but I would trade them for being tall like Pat Kane, with that long reach of his.
Interviewer’s note: I think I can safely say except in the NBA, for every tall, long armed great athlete, there are hundreds of tall guys who would trade their reach for Rich’s quickness and sprint all the way to the podium. Trust me.
Bob: I have quick hands and foot speed. I can be competitive and still keep a sense of humor.
Interviewer’s note: Watch him play some time. Bob can lay both hard and soft shots on any line on the court with uncanny precision and diabolical ease.
Q: What one thing would you like to bring back from your glory days?
Rich: I wish I had started younger. It might not have changed my ability, but I could have played even longer,
Bob: More hair under my pickleball cap.