The Rise of Pickleball: America’s Fastest-Growing Sport

The Rise of Pickleball: America's Fastest Growing Sport
The Rise of Pickleball: America's Fastest-Growing Sport

This post was most recently updated on September 12th, 2023

Pickleball is taking the country by storm. Originally invented in the 1960s, this quirky paddle sport has exploded in popularity over the past decade. With fun gameplay and a welcoming community, it’s easy to see why people of all ages are picking up pickleball paddles and heading to the courts.

What is Pickleball?

For those unfamiliar, pickleball is a racquet sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. It’s played on a badminton-sized court with a slightly modified tennis net, using solid plastic perforated balls and composite or wooden paddles.

Games are usually doubles or singles and scoring is similar to tennis. The major differences are the serve must be made underhand, and players can’t volley the ball out of the air. This creates a slower paced, more strategic gameplay as players carefully set up their shots.

Beyond these basic rules, pickleball can be played casually or competitively. Part of its appeal is that anyone can learn the basics quickly, but there is still skill involved at higher levels.

Why is Pickleball Growing?

Pickleball check marks a lot of boxes that have led to its rise. Here are some of the reasons behind its surging popularity:

  • Accessible for all ages: Pickleball is low impact but still gets your heart pumping. The smaller court and manageable paddle size makes it easy for seniors and kids to play.
  • Beginner friendly: Learning basic pickleball strokes like dinks, volleys, and serves doesn’t take much time. This makes it inviting to new players.
  • Social and fun: The lighthearted nature creates a welcoming community at pickleball courts. Many facilities offer open play times where you can mix it up with new people.
  • Good exercise: A match can burn 400+ calories per hour. The intervals of fast explosive moves followed by recoveries work your cardio.
  • Low cost and equipment needs: Paddles, balls, and nets are inexpensive compared to other racquet sports. And starter kits can be found for under $50.
  • Minimal space requirements: Only needing a badminton-sized space, pickleball can be set up in driveways, cul-de-sacs, or recreation centers.
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With these positives and more, it’s no surprise pickleball participation has doubled in the past 5 years. The POPRA shows it growing at a rate of 12% per year with nearly 5 million US players.

Pickleball Paddle Designs and Materials

One piece of essential gear for pickleball is your paddle. With so many choices out there, it can be tricky to select the right one. Here’s a quick guide to paddle designs and common materials:

  • Shapes: Most paddles are wide or elongated to cover more surface area. Wider paddles provide more power while elongated ones offer increased finesse. Paddles also vary in weight, balance, and grip size.
  • Faces: Performance paddles have a textured face that grabs and spins the ball. Composite materials like Fiberglass and Carbon Fiber are commonly used. Companies that once specialized in other fields like aerospace and medical supplies are now providing carbon fiber CNC services to the pickleball industry which means paddles are being made of the highest quality materials possible.
  • Cores: The core or inner material impacts feel and control. Options like Polymer, Nomex, Aluminum, or Polypropylene each have distinct properties.
  • Construction: How the face, core, and edge guard are arranged affects overall playability. Edgeless and vertical constructions are two popular methods.

With the right paddle that matches your game style, you’ll be crushing returns and aces in no time. It’s worth reading reviews and demoing several before buying.

Places to Play Pickleball

The pickleball boom has led to more dedicated venues popping up across the country. Here are some places to check out to get your fix:

  • Public parks: Many city parks now paint pickleball lines on their tennis courts. Some also have designated pickleball complexes.
  • Recreation centers: Gyms like LA Fitness and YMCAs are adding indoor and outdoor pickleball courts to meet demand.
  • Retirement communities: A vast majority of 55+ living facilities have courts available for residents. Some even host tournaments.
  • Country clubs: In addition to golf and tennis, pickleball is becoming a popular activity and social event at country clubs.
  • Tournament centers: Destinations like the East Naples Community Park in Florida or the Nationals Pickleball Center in Palm Desert, CA cater to competitive play.
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With pickleball still on the rise, more venues tailored specifically for the sport will undoubtedly continue opening. That makes it easier than ever for newcomers to find a place to learn and improve their game.

Pickleball Paddle Reviews from Pickleball Advisor

When shopping for your ideal paddle, be sure to check out PickleballAdvisor.org. Their unbiased reviews break down the top brands and models on the market.

Pickleball Advisor rates paddles on criteria like power, control, touch, spin, and durability. This gives you a sense of how paddles perform for different playing styles.

They also compare construction, materials, weight, grip sizes, and other key specs. For each paddle, you’ll find detailed pros and cons with insights from testers.

The reviews focus on value at all price points too. This makes Pickleball Advisor a great resource whether you’re on a tight budget or looking to splurge.

Beyond paddles, you can find reviews of pickleball nets, balls, bags, and shoes from top companies. The site is constantly updated with the latest gear.

Reading Pickleball Advisor reviews takes the guesswork out of finding equipment that raises your game to the next level. Check them out before making your next paddle purchase.

Pickleball’s Future Looks Bright

In 50 years, pickleball has gone from a backyard hobby to a full-on phenomenon. Today pickleball clubs, tournaments, gear, and training resources abound.

And with no signs of slowing down, it’s poised for even greater growth. The unique fun of pickleball will continue attracting players across generations.

From casual family games to pro competitions, there’s something for everyone. So grab a friend, family member or head to your local pickleball community and see what all the excitement is about!

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What is pickleball?

Pickleball is a fun, social paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. It’s played with a perforated plastic ball and paddles on a badminton-sized court.

Where did pickleball originate?

Pickleball was invented in 1965 by three dads in Bainbridge Island, Washington – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. It’s said they created the game to keep their bored kids entertained over one summer.

How do you play pickleball?

Pickleball is played either as singles or doubles. The serve must be made underhand and players cannot volley the ball until it bounces. Points are scored like tennis and games go to 11. It uses an underhand serve and no volleys are allowed until the ball bounces.

How do you score pickleball?

Points are scored only by the serving side. Games are played to 11 points, win by 2. Points can only be scored on serves and return shots, not off volleys.

What equipment is needed to play pickleball?

The basic pickleball equipment needed includes paddles, balls, a net, and court. Paddles and balls can be purchased from sporting goods stores. Many public courts now have permanent pickleball nets.

What are pickleball paddles made from?

Pickleball paddles are typically constructed from materials like aluminum, polymer, fiberglass, graphite, carbon fiber, or wood. Lighter and wider paddles are better for control while heavier paddles provide more power.

Where can you play pickleball?

Places to play pickleball include recreation centers, YMCAs, senior living facilities, parks, schools, and dedicated pickleball courts. Many tennis courts can also have their lines painted for pickleball.

How fast does the pickleball travel?

An average struck pickleball can travel between 25-40 miles per hour. However, professionals are able to hit shots up to 60+ mph using their body strength and paddle acceleration.

Is pickleball good exercise?

Absolutely! An hour of pickleball can burn 400 calories or more. It works your upper and lower body through the starting, stopping, and side-to-side motions required. The cardio activity makes it an excellent workout.

James Anderson
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