Pickleball: The Fastest Growing Sport in the US
Pickleball incorporates elements from tennis, badminton, and table tennis and is played using paddles. Badminton is the court of choice for this game, with a small, perforated plastic ball and paddles that are twice as large as those used for table tennis. Its popularity has soared in recent years, with the Sports & Fitness Industry Association reporting that there are now over 4.8 million pickleball players in the United States. This figure represents a 12.8% jump from 2020 to 2021, following a 21.3% jump the previous year. Pickleball, with a year-to-year growth rate of 11.5%, is the fastest-growing sport in the United States according to the USA Pickleball Association.
Pickleball is an easy game to learn, fast-paced, social and appeals to all ages and physical abilities. It is played on a court with no walls or fencing and can easily be played on a tennis court. On either side of the net is an area known as “the kitchen,” which is a no-volley zone. The sport has been shown to improve blood pressure and cardiorespiratory fitness and is also thought to offer emotional benefits such as warding off depression.
The rise of pickleball has breathed new life into public sports facilities. Area pickleball clubs have helped raise money to renovate or upgrade parks across the country—particularly those at Midway Memorial Park and J. Bryan Floyd Community Center. Ace Pickleball Club is the first franchise to offer technology-enabled indoor pickleball courts with monthly memberships. The HUB is hosting San Diego's inaugural USA Pickleball-sanctioned tournament from January 13 – 16.
The county has opened its first 26-court pickleball palace which welcomes pickleballers of all levels and offers a restaurant and bar, six “smart courts,” a pickleball pro shop, and more. Memberships and drop-ins are available. Pickleball is offered on Mondays from 6-8:30 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. There are also Pickleball 101 and Pickleball 202 clinics offered for those looking to learn more about the game.
The ethos of Pickleball is one of sportsmanship and camaraderie.
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