The sport known as pickleball has gained popularity in America in recent years. This blend of tennis, table tennis, and badminton seem to attract everyone, from novice to experienced people, who fancy racquet sports.
Pickleball has been steadily gaining popularity since 2014 but saw an unprecedented rise in players after the Covid pandemic. Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. for its ease of play, low physical impact, and accessibility to people from various financial backgrounds.
Pickleball is not just enjoyed by billionaire Bill Gates but seems to be America’s next big racquet sport, along with tennis. Yet, just a couple of years ago, it would not be unordinary for someone to be unaware of Pickleball’s existence. So, when did the fastest-growing sport in America become so popular?
When Did Pickle Ball Become Such A Popular Sport?
A brief look at the sport’s history is necessary to understand its gain in popularity. The game’s origins date back to 1965 near Seattle when three friends took it upon themselves to end their children’s boredom.
Hence, Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum, and William Bell came up with a new racquetball game by lowering the net of their existing badminton court and using ping pong paddles, not badminton racquets.
They created the blueprint for a game that can be played with a bat made of plywood on courts that can be existing badminton courts or just improvised courts in backyards, parking lots, and driveways. Pickleball gained popularity through word of mouth in the decades following, but the sport only saw its massive rise in popularity in recent years.
Interestingly, pickleball’s popularity rose exponentially during the Covid-19 pandemic, as the sport can be played at home or in the surroundings. Existing and new pickleball players alike were able to set up makeshift courts in parking lots, driveways, and even sidewalks.
Following the pandemic’s lockdowns, players could go back to clubs and establish new ones to meet the rising demand for pickleball courts.
Is Pickle The Fastest Growing Sport in the U.S.?
The amount of pickleball players across the U.S. has been increasing at a staggering rate since data collection began and still shows no signs of slowing down.
It has been estimated that coming out of the pandemic; the sport had about six million players spread across the country. It was identified then as the fastest growing sport in the U.S., with an impressive twenty one percent increase in players between 2019 and 2020.
Two years later, pickleball remains the fastest growing sport in America, with an outstanding forty-eight million players in the U.S. alone. At this point, it seems that the future of the sport can only be bright at this point.
Why Has Pickle Ball Gained So Much Traction?
It is truly astounding how much the sport of pickleball has gained in popularity in recent years. The rise in pickleball in the U.S. can be attributed to several things.
Here is a list containing the ten major reasons why this blend of tennis, table tennis, and badminton is so popular nowadays.
- Pickleball is easy to learn. The game’s rules are not complicated and easy to learn, even for novice players who do not have a background in other racquet sports. Bill Gates, an avid pickleball player, credits the sport’s simplicity as the main factor in its rising popularity.
- It is easier on the physique than tennis. Pickleball is a mini version of tennis that demands much less physical explosivity than other racquet sports. With less bounce, lighter balls, and reduced knee impact, the sport remains open to people prone to back or knee injuries.
- It is accessible to seniors. Retired seniors who are no longer in physical shape for harder impact racquet sports gravitate to pickleball due to its gentler approach that still gets their hearts going. About a quarter of pickleball players in the U.S. are over 65 years old.
- It is a fun workout. Despite being a lot smaller than a tennis court, pickleball is a sport that still gets a player’s heart and blood flow going while having tremendous fun. It does not matter how intensely pickleball players choose to play; the game is always entertaining.
- The equipment is cheap, and you need a little of it. Unlike some other sports, like golf, for instance, pickleball does not require you to have a lot of equipment. All you need is a paddle and ball (wiffle ball) for very affordable prices, thus not excluding the poorer population from the sport.
- Pickleball is a social sport. With its accessibility to all ages and low-skill requirements, pickleball can bring together the whole family. The sport can be played in both singles and doubles, which also brings the opportunity to make new friends at the local pickleball club.
- You do not need a big space to play. An amazing aspect of pickleball is that even if there is no tennis or badminton court around, you can still play pickleball on a hard surface the size of half a tennis court. People can make or buy their nets to set up at parks, basketball courts, or even parking lots.
- It is easy to learn for players used to other racquet sports. Pickleball can be easily picked up by people who have already enjoyed playing other racquet sports. They can expect to be able to get used to the new format in a matter of minutes and develop their skills quickly.
- Pickleball games are entertaining and fast-paced. In tennis, squash, and badminton, matches be hours long, so you may have to wait a while for a court to become available during a club’s busy hours. In pickleball, games are faced-paced and generally end rapidly, leaving no room for boredom or long waiting lists.
- Pickleball clubs are popping up everywhere. When pickleball started to become popular, many racquet sport enthusiasts took the opportunity to establish clubs to help the sport grow even more. Presently, most cities in the U.S. have pickleball clubs that organize events to introduce more people to the sport.
Pickleball has become a popular sport amongst many Americans not just for its easiness of play but also due to its financial and physical accessibility that spans people of all ages and skill levels.
Pickleball is definitely a strange name for a sport that is essentially a mini version of tennis. Nevertheless, this strange name has not hindered the rise of the sport in popularity in recent years. From humble beginnings in a town near Seattle in the 1960s, pickleball has taken America by storm.
The sport became famous following the Covid-19 pandemic when people sought fun and easy ways to exercise and spend time with family.