What do you get when you combine tennis, badminton and ping-pong? The fastest growing sport in America! Over five million Americans play pickleball and numbers have doubled since 2014.
The reason for its popularity is that it is easier to play than tennis and less stressful on the joints, which is why it is considered a sport for older people. However, while 17% of players are over 65, over a third are under 25.
Playing pickleball allows you to work on your balance, agility, reflexes and hand-eye coordination without putting excessive strains on your body. The court is the same size as a badminton court, with a lower net, special paddle and a ball like a whiffle ball. It is played in singles and mixed doubles with a winning score of 11. Each player needs to win by two points. There is a USA Pickleball Association that promotes the growth and development of the sport, not only at a national but also international level. The USAPA provides rules, tournaments, rankings and materials.
A normal tennis shoe is perfect; it has grip, ankle support and a rubber sole with tread for the court that enables quick lateral movements.
The paddle is square, and they differ in weight and size of grip. From basic wood to edgeless graphite, follow what feels good.
Pickle balls, softer and lighter, are less bouncy and easy to hit. Indoor and outdoor differ, and the size of the hole is relative to the bounce.
Justin Maloof, USAPA Executive Director
“Our website has a feature called Places to Play; we track facilities where pickleball is played. In 2013, we recorded 527 new places to play. That is an average of 44 new facilities a month. For us, a Place to Play is a place where pickleball games are actively set up. It can be anything from a health club that has designated pickleball courts to a rec center that is now offering pickleball in a gymnasium that is lined for play. We are seeing dedicated facilities with eight, 10 or 12 pickleball courts. In park and rec facilities, we’re seeing conversion of underutilized courts – basketball courts, etc. – being lined for pickleball.”