Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States and worldwide. According to Google Trends, the interest in searches in the United States around the game began taking off in 2021, a year after the pandemic started. This paddle sport is a mixture of multiple sports, making it easy for new players to understand. It is also relatively inexpensive to play, which makes it accessible to people looking to give the game a try. Not only that, but the game is for all ages and skill levels and is fun to play, making it the perfect match of affordable, fun, and easy to learn to play.
So, what are some of the reasons that pickleball is so popular? Are there leagues and tournaments popping up around towns and cities for people to play? Are there any professional leagues for people to make money playing pickleball?
Here is the complete breakdown as to why pickleball is so popular.
Pickleball is an Easy Game to Learn
Pickleball takes elements of different paddle sports and puts them into a brand-new game. For example, pickleball is a mix between ping-pong (table tennis), tennis, and badminton. These three sports have a ball, paddles, a court, and a net to hit the ball over against your opponent. The objective of all three sports is to either have your opponent hit the ball out of bounds or be unable to return it to you due to hitting the net or having the ball bounce (x) amount of times on the court.
You and your friends have played either ping-pong, tennis, or badminton, so learning pickleball with its rules will be easy. The game’s concept is similar to these three sports, meaning the learning curve to play is relatively low.
It is a Relatively Inexpensive Game
The beauty of pickleball is how accessible it is to players since it doesn’t cost much to play. For example, you can turn a tennis court into a pickleball court with only minor modifications with tape. From there, you can pick up a set of paddles and the plastic ball, and you are ready to play.
Unlike other sports that require additional equipment, like cleats for soccer or ice skates for hockey, pickleball can be done with your everyday sneakers. The clothing you wear is the same as you would for the gym, so you don’t have to buy anything extra to wear to play pickleball.
It is a Good Game to Play with Friends of All Skill Levels
Pickleball players range in different ages and skill levels, making it popular. Unlike some sports, like hockey, where players need to know how to ice skate before even learning the rules of the game, which makes the entry-level high, pickleball’s barrier of entry is low. You can play a pickup game with friends interested in the sport or join a league with players who want to play against each other regularly. All you need to do is show up to the court with a paddle and ball, and you are ready to play.
Another benefit of pickleball is that you can play the games via doubles. Playing doubles is a great way to play with friends and stay active together. Also, playing doubles does not make the court bigger, which is ideal if you can’t cover as much space due to age, ability, or previous injury, unlike doubles tennis, where the courtliness gets bigger.
It is a Good Form of Exercise
Playing pickleball is a good form of exercise and also develops strong hand-eye coordination for players. Getting outside (or indoors) to play pickleball is an excellent way to get exercise in a fun way. Since the games can take less time to complete than other sports, getting 30 minutes of play throughout the week is an excellent way to stay healthy, which is especially important for older players who might be less active now.
Also, you can play pickleball without keeping score if you only want to exercise. You and your friends can volley the ball back and forth to each other without keeping the score, which can keep the experience short when playing.
It Has Numerous Pickup Leagues
The game of pickleball is growing as America’s fastest-growing sport, according to CBS News, which means more towns are creating tournaments for their residents to play. Community centers and other recreation departments are bringing pickleball tournaments to their town, which is a good and safe way to keep players healthy and involved in their community. These town leagues have different age and skill level groups, which means the game is accessible to more players to play against similar players.
It Has Professional Teams + TV / Streaming Deals
The USA Pickleball Association and other groups have tournaments and membership benefits for people to get involved in earning money from pickleball. Along with the USA Pickleball Association, there is the PPA and MLP, which have professional pickleball players compete in tournaments all around America year-round to make money. These games not only have crowds and sponsorships that flock to these events, but you can find these games on TV and streaming services.
The Game is Year Round
One of the benefits of pickleball is that it can occur year-round. Unlike some sports, like baseball, where you can’t play outside in the snow, pickleball can occur either outdoors or indoors year-round. When it is in the winter, chances are you will find numerous community centers around your town having pickleball tournaments inside, using their indoor basketball or tennis courts. The game can go outside when the weather gets warmer, so players can play year-round.
A Breakdown of the Growth in Popularity
One way to measure the game’s growth is by looking at the search interest of pickleball on Google Trends. Google Trends is a tool that calculates and measures the interest in a given topic based on the number of searches that occur during a time frame. Essentially, from 2018 – 2022, the game’s growth took off in 2021, a year after the pandemic started.
As more people became comfortable seeing each other a year after the pandemic began, pickleball was an excellent option that kept a social distance from others while doing something as a group. Since the game is relatively inexpensive to play, people could pick up the game and play and give it a shot with their friends as something new. Being outside, playing a fun game with friends, and having it be inexpensive were the perfect match. Also, after a year of the pandemic, being outside and playing with friends was a significant mental health boost for many individuals.
Outside of the pandemic, the game continues to grow in popularity due to celebrity sponsorships. For example, Tom Brady invested in Major League Pickleball on October 13, 2022. Seeing top celebrities get into the game and invest helps increase the game further.
Conclusion: Why is Pickleball So Popular?
In summary, pickleball is a popular game for numerous reasons. First, the game is a mixture of paddle sports people might already be familiar with. The game is relatively cheap, meaning players can try it out without exceeding their budget. Unlike some sports that require lots of equipment to buy, pickleball is not.
The game is also fun for all ages and skill levels. Players can play with friends, in tournaments, or compete professionally. Since the game is accessible to all skill levels and ages, the game can be enjoyed by everyone.
Finally, the game took off in search interest a year after the pandemic began. As more and more people started going outside and meeting up with friends to be social, pickleball was a new option to do something different at a safe distance. Since the game was easy to understand and play, and players began playing this as a way to stay healthy and fit with friends, the game only grew in popularity.
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