6 Reasons Everybody is Playing Pickleball, and You Should, Too

Forget kung-fu fighting. Everybody is playing pickleball. Kids, dads, grandmas, and everyone else are picking up pickleball paddles and hitting the court. Why is it that people across multiple generations, who can’t agree on jeans style, hair-part location, or what social media platform to use, all seem to agree that pickleball is a fun, worthwhile way to spend an afternoon? What has made this activity with a funny name the fastest-growing US sport every year from 2019 to 2022, and likely 2023 as well? What has brought more than 36 million players in the United States, and many more internationally, out to the pickleball court? Here are the six A’s that contribute to pickleball’s popularity and incredible growth:

1. Approachability:

Pickleball has a quick learning curve, making it easier to jump into than many other sports. You don’t have to spend months trying to learn how to hit a powerful overhand serve, as in tennis. Pickleball is served underhand: just drop the ball and take a swing.

Unlike golf, that can be highly frustrating when you lose more balls than even make it onto the green. Pickleball only requires that players hit a small, wiffleball-like ball over the net. Most players can effectively participate in a game the first time they pick up a paddle. Pickleball for beginners is still quite fun, which makes it easy to start playing and enjoying immediately.

Take someone who might shy away from trying to become good enough at golf to avoid embarrassing themselves or competent enough at tennis that they can reliably return the ball. Instead, put them on a pickleball court where they can begin enjoying themselves and fully participating immediately. It’s no wonder pickleball is growing so fast.

2. Accepting Culture:

In general, pickleball players are a welcoming bunch. It’s not an exclusive club that doesn’t want outsiders to join. Picklers love to share their enthusiasm for the sport with newcomers. If you show up to a court, you may even find someone willing to lend you their paddle so you can give it a try. Other players will talk you through the rules or gently remind you to announce the score before you serve rather than getting annoyed that you don’t quite know what you are doing.

Often, a more skilled player will even play down to a beginner’s level so everyone can still enjoy themselves. Pickleball was created to fill time and make memories with family and friends. That spirit lives on in the game. While there are undoubtedly competitive pickleball tournaments and events, most players just want to have a good time. There’s no need to feel shy or hesitant if you’ve never played. You’ll learn quickly and likely find that other players are incredibly welcoming, supportive, and helpful.

3. All Athletic Abilities:

While the fastest-growing demographic of pickleball players is people under 24, half of all serious picklers in 2021 were over 55. There are wheelchair pickleball rules, and many senior living neighborhoods have painted pickleball lines on their tennis courts.

This demographic mix is because pickleball lends itself to any physical or athletic ability level. There are professional pickleball teams with an incredibly high level of athleticism represented. And there are 80-year-old men and women enjoying friendly games with friends.

While pickleball resembles tennis in some ways, you play it on a smaller court with a light, plastic ball that doesn’t travel with the same speed or power as a tennis ball. A beginner pickleball paddle is smaller and lighter than a tennis racket, making it easier to swing and control. That’s why your grandma can play pickleball even if her most agile days are behind her. And it’s why so many people feel comfortable spending an hour or two on the weekend playing pickleball, regardless of their fitness level or athleticism.

4. Availability:

As pickleball grows in popularity, more courts are being built. That includes private courts in backyards and public courts. In response to the demand for pickleball surfaces, many public or community tennis courts have added additional lines so you can use them for pickleball.

This growth in the number of courts means more people have access to the surface needed to get out, strap on some pickleball shoes–or just a pair of old sneakers–and swing a pickleball paddle with friends or against fierce competitors.

5. Aerobic Activity:

Even though it is less physically demanding than tennis, pickleball is still a great workout. That means it appeals to health-conscious people who want a more fun or social activity than marathon running or peddling a bike to nowhere in their basement.

A Western Colorado University study found that pickleball players’ average heart rate was 109 beats per minute during a game. And they burned an average of 354 calories per hour, which puts pickleball in line with other moderate-intensity activities like hiking and water aerobics. Picklers also experienced meaningful improvement in blood pressure and cholesterol.

If you want to ramp up the intensity, you can switch from doubles to singles so that you have to cover more of the court and try to return all the balls hit your way. Or you can do pickleball drills with a friend or coach so that you are hitting more shots with fewer breaks in between. Pickleball is a scalable workout that can adjust to your fitness level and increase the challenge as desired.

Simply put, pickleball is good for your body. It may feel like you are just enjoying time with friends, but it’s improving your health as you play, providing exercise under the cover of fun.

6. Affordability:

Golf requires expensive green fees every time you play. You could easily spend thousands of dollars filling your bag with clubs. Considering hockey? Check out the ice fees and equipment costs. Most group sports are quite expensive, but pickleball is an exception. You can play for free on public courts. While pickleball equipment like specific pickleball apparel or shoes is available and can improve your game, you only need paddles and a ball to get started and find out if you enjoy pickling. Since beginner pickleball paddles are inexpensive, becoming an active, frequent pickleball player costs very little.

With so much to offer it is no wonder that pickleball has seen incredible growth in popularity. It’s a game for everyone, regardless of age, experience, knowledge, athletic ability, or financial status. So what are you waiting for? Join the millions of people enjoying their time and creating memories and friendships on the pickleball court.

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