Table of Contents
by Ellen Blake
Do you play pickleball?
I was at a party last weekend and someone asked if I play pickleball. I responded that I don’t, but that my husband plays a few times every week. Another guest who overhead our conversation came over to add that he and his wife play pickleball too. Someone else standing nearby told us she also plays. The pickleball conversation went on for quite awhile. I met eight people that day who all play this sport regularly. I definitely felt I was missing out! It was interesting to me that this group of guests live in the same city, yet all play at different courts. Obviously, this sport was a big deal to alot of people with courts cropping up all over.
Why is pickleball so popular?
Why is pickleball so popular? Well, first of all, it’s not new as 2021 marks its 56th anniversary. The game, with its handmade equipment and simple rules, was invented in the Seattle area by three enterprising dads whose children were bored with their usual summertime activities. And the name? As the story goes, one of the founders had a dog named Pickles who would chase the ball and run off with it, so they called it.
As of 2020, Pickleball has 4.2 million players in the U.S., according to the SFIA 2021 Topline Participation Report. The known places to play totaled 8,735 at the end of 2020, and the number continues to grow.
As of 2020, Pickleball has 4.2 million players in the U.S., according to the SFIA 2021 Topline Participation Report. The known places to play totaled 8,735 at the end of 2020, and the number continues to grow. Every U.S. state now has pickleball venues, with senior residence communities, YMCA’s, local recreation centers, schools and parks the most common places that have courts.
So, to answer the question about why pickleball is so popular, in a nutshell, the game is an easy to learn paddle sport appropriate for players of all ages and skill levels. It’s easy on the joints, and combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. The only equipment needed is a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. Though a great sport for beginners, experienced players compete against each other in fast-paced, challenging and competitive games.
Why is pickleball so popular???
8 great reasons to play pickleball
Pickleball is healthy
Are you looking for great exercise for both your mind and body? Pickleball provides opportunities to work on balance, agility, reflexes and hand-eye coordination without excessively straining your body. It’s an excellent choice for 50Plussers who played tennis previously, but now have physical limitations.
Pickleball is easy to learn
First, the rules are simple, and the paddles are large, making the ball fairly easy to hit with little practice. In under an hour, new players generally find themselves volleying back and forth over the net. With court dimensions less than half the size of a tennis court, your serves and returns don’t need to be precise for the ball to stay in play. It doesn’t take long to advance your skills with practice.
PIckleball is social
Almost 60 percent of pickleballers say they play for social reasons. Courts are small, so it’s easy to hold conversations while playing. The most popular way to play a game is with a partner against another team of two. Generally, there’s opportunity for lots of interaction between players, even with strangers. It’s not uncommon with pickleball players to develop friendships or strengthen already existing bonds on the court.
Pickleball courts don’t require a lot of space
The dimensions of a pickleball court are 20 ft by 40 ft. More players can enjoy games in smaller areas than what’s required for a tennis court. In fact, you can easily have two games going on at the same time on one tennis court. The small size also means less running for players. It’s still a good cardio workout, but not as much as sports with more sprints required to return the ball.
People of all ages take up the game, from children strong enough to swing a paddle to older adults post retirement. For this reason, pickleball is a popular family activity.
Pickleball is a fun game for all ages
One of the beautiful things about pickleball is it is for everyone. People of all ages take up the game, from children strong enough to swing a paddle to older adults post retirement. For this reason, pickleball is a popular family activity. As long as a doctor gives the OK to play, whether you are 15 or 75 you can play.
Pickleball is affordable
For someone wanting to add exercise to their routine, pickleball is a fairly inexpensive way to go. Prices for paddles range widely, but for those just starting, you can find a decent paddle for less than $30 and a six-pack of balls for less than $10. There are no elaborate accessories involved– no shin guards, helmets, gloves or anything other than your favorite pair of athletic shoes.
Many pickleball courts are public, built and maintained by the local municipality, so often there is no entry fee. For-profit clubs, of course, do impose fees, but you get additional amenities like locker rooms, showers and maybe a coffee bar.
Pickleball is for all skill levels
One of the reasons newbies enjoy pickleball is because it’s so easy to learn, especially if you ever played ping-pong, badminton or tennis. And if you haven’t, no worries, you’ll pick it up.
The U.S.A. Pickleball Association has skill ratings ranging from 1.0-5.5. Those with a level between 1.0 and 2.0 are usually brand new to the game with a minimal understanding. A player with a 3.0 rating knows the terms of the game and can hit forehand, backhand and serve, and has the ability to develop a winning strategy. You are rated 5.5 if you are an expert who consistently plays at a high level and wins tournaments.
That being said, you can usually find a wide range of players with different skill levels on any given pickleball court. Some play better than others, but everyone agrees the game is a good time. Whether you’re a beginner who just wants to learn a new sport for fun, or you’re a seasoned player who craves more competitive play, pickleball offers something for everyone.
PIckleball is highly contagious
Pickleball is no longer a “new” sport or referred to as “up and coming”. People talk about it, and invite their friends or join to make now ones. Many seem addicted after playing only a few times, for all the reasons listed above. Parks and recreation departments try to meet the demands of the public, building new pickleball courts or repurposing tennis courts for pickleball games. This fun game can be played indoors or out, so you can play in any type of weather.
The bottom line
With so many reasons to play pickleball and few drawbacks, why not consider playing? It’s affordable, convenient, good exercise, gentle on the joints, fun and offers great social opportunities! I plan to join my husband later this week. Not sure where to play? Check out the USA Pickleball website.
- The USA Pickleball Association
- Places to Play
- Beginner’s Guide to Pickleball
- Pickleball: History of the Game
- Pickleball Rules of the Game
- The Explosion of Pickleball