A game, that started in the summer of 1965 in the summer home of Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum on Bainbridge Island, Washington, and was named after Pritchard’s dog, pickles, who was known to steal the ball while it was still in play, has recently become the fastest growing sport of USA with an average growth rate of 11.5% over the last five years According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s report, pickleball is the fastest growing team sport in America with a 21.3% increase in pickleball participants from 2019 to 2020.
With the total number of players reaching 36.5 million. According to the most recent statistics provided in the 2023 APP Pickleball Participation report from YouGov research, 14% of Americans played pickleball at least once during those 12 months. And pickleball was played eight or more times by almost 8.5 million people.
Pickleball already has two national professional tournaments, both founded in the last four years, and organizers are looking for corporate sponsors to help promote the sport in the United States and overseas as part of an Olympic bid.
But what had made the game immensely popular:
Pickleball is a fusion of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong, and gained popularity during the early days of the pandemic when practicing traditional team sports became impossible due to the coronavirus, hence many people flocked to paddle sports as a socially isolating method to keep active and outside.
Another reason responsible for the sport’s sharp growth rate is it is less strenuous, placing less physical pressure on the body making it equally popular amongst the elderly and young. The game doesn't reward players with more strength; instead, it emphasizes accuracy, placement, and teamwork. Additionally, the game has very simple rules and is easy to learn for beginners, can be learned in just a few lessons, and players can find tournaments at a varying competitive level. In comparison to tennis and badminton, it requires less strength or intensity to hit the ball, the paddles in pickleball are lighter and, as a stretch, even the pickleball is lighter.
Pickleball is very affordable to play. Once you buy the equipment you need, pickleball is extremely cheap to sustain. All you need is a pickleball paddle which, luckily, is easy to get. The game is played on a much smaller court as compared to tennis and there is no need to build a special court for it and can even be played re-purpose badminton, tennis, or basketball courts. The compact size of the court does not reduce the cost but since you’re close to other players, it provides for a fast-paced atmosphere to enhance hand-eye coordination, test reflexes, and socialize! Thus, making the game even more enjoyable.