The National Mall is commonly packed with local commuters and tourists from around the country and the world, but now there are also pickleball enthusiasts heading that way to play their favorite game.
From Thursday through Saturday, nine temporary pickleball courts are open along the National Mall, right next to the World War II Memorial.
“We couldn’t be in a more picturesque setting,” said Helen White, one of the players who went to check it out.
The free, three-day event has various programs, including on-site pickleball lessons and clinics, and even some exhibition match play with professional players.
“I’m in the tournaments and I am very competitive,” said Janet Green, who made the trip to the National Mall from Richmond, Virginia. “This gives me a really good competitive outlet without being overboard.”
She added, “It keeps me in shape.”
The courts are open both for people who made reservations and for those who simply show up and want to play.
“Pickleball requires you to act quickly and make quick decisions,” Andy Leighton said.
Leighton, who has Parkinson’s disease, said the game is a tool he uses to stay sharp.
“What my neurologist tells me is that exercise is not only like medicine — it is medicine,” Leighton said. “The more pickleball I can play, the better.”
The event is sponsored by the health insurance company Humana and the Trust for the National Mall, a nonprofit dedicated to enriching and preserving the National Mall.
In 2022, more than 36 million Americans played pickleball.
According to Sports & Fitness Industry Association, more than half (52%) of core pickleball players in the U.S. — those who play eight or more times a year — are 55 and older.
Almost one third (32.7%) of all core pickleball players are 65 and older.
“Humana is committed to championing seniors, promoting healthy and active lifestyles and fostering social connections,” said Bruce Broussard, president and CEO of Humana. “We are excited to bring pickleball — an accessible, inclusive and friendly sport — to one of the most special places in our country.”