Fifty-Five Years Of Pickleball: Growth Of The Sport

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By Pickleball Is Great  Special Contributor
This month Pickleball Is Great presents a series of articles looking at the first 55 years Of Pickleball. This is the third installment of four in that series.

Have you noticed how popular pickleball is becoming? Some facilities boast 30+ courts, and they seem to all be filled. Court time is at a premium as the sheer number of pickleball players continues to grow exponentially. The USAPA states that pickleball has grown over 650% in the past 6 years. Pickleball is truly one of America’s fastest growing sports.

  • Justin Maloof, executive director of USAPA, stated, “When the sport first caught on in the sunbelt states around 2009, it was at 55-plus centers and RV communities,” he says. “It snowballed from there. But these days, there are many municipalities and parks and rec departments that are setting up courts, making it accessible to a younger crowd.”
  • In 2019, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) reported that pickleball currently has 3.3 million players in the US.
  • USAPA’s database listed 7,928 places to play in 2019, averaging over 111 new locations added per month.
  • So how did it get so popular so quickly? Think about your first experience. Chances are you had initially heard about pickleball through a friend. A friend’s testimony to a fun, addicting, easy to play game is hard to beat. Joel Pritchard (co-founder of pickleball) loved inviting people over to play. One of his goals was to show people the game of pickleball and to get families playing together. Take a few minutes to watch part of his story on “Pickleball’s Birthplace – Bainbridge Island”:

    Today, there is even a pickleball-themed restaurant. Chicken N Pickle is a combo of indoor/outdoor courts and a chicken, beef and pork restaurant which also serves craft beers. The pickleball-playing owners launched the first location in Kansas City, then expanded to Wichita, and will soon open locations in San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and in Overland Park, KS.

    So… what will the next decade hold for pickleball?

    In the next and final installment of Fifty-Five Years Of Pickleball, we talk about the Pickleball Hall Of Fame.

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    Special Contributor
    Pickleball Is Great
    Mike Hoxie, Kathy Rambousek, Gigi Guerra

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