Why is Pickleball So Dang Popular?

Pickleball has taken the world of middle-aged recreation by storm. Since 2019, it’s the fastest growing recreational sport in the U.S. and is fast, becoming a favored pastime for many middle agers. In this blog post, we’ll delve into what pickleball is, the essential gear needed to play, the reasons behind its popularity among older individuals, and provide some interesting statistics that highlight its growing appeal.

What exactly is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Played on a smaller court than tennis, it involves either two or four players who use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. The game can be played indoors or outdoors and can be played by complete newbies, seasoned veterans and even professionals. There’s even a World Championship tournamen.t is accessible to players of various skill levels.

Essential Gear

Paddle: Pickleball paddles are typically made of lightweight materials such as wood, composite or graphite. The choice of paddle is an individual preference. Choosing the right paddle can have a postive  can impact on a player’s performance. Don’t be surprised if you try a couple different composites and thickness.  A thinner paddle will give you more pop and power. And bonus for newbies, a thinner paddle gives you more agility. The thicker paddles will absorb some of the ball’s energy giving you more control.,

Then there’s the grip.  If you have small(ish) hands you’ll probably find you’ll do better with a paddle with a thinner grip. The negative here is there’s less padding. So maybe just beat your opponent in the fewest number of strokes possible.  A thicker grip obviously provides more padding but will better suit those with larger hands. 

Try a few different paddles as you get more comfortable with the game. After a while, you’ll settle on the composite, grip and thickness that best suits your hand size and playing style. You may go through a few paddles as your play evolves until you land on one that you really like.

Ball: The pickleball itself is unique, featuring small holes to reduce wind resistance. And since there are indoor and outdoor courts, there are indoor and outdoor balls. Outdoor pickleballs are designed to withstand wind, rougher playing surfaces and other outdoor elements. So they are heavier and more durable than indoor pickleballs. Indoor pickleballs have larger holes and are lighter weight than those used outdoors.  While there’s no rule against using an indoor ball outdoors and vice versa, you probably don’t want to do that. You’ll find yourself not enjoying your game too much – even if you win.   Outdoor pickleballs are heavier and more durable and designed to withstand rougher surfaces, wind, and elements. Indoor pickleballs are lighter, have larger holes, and are optimized for better performance on a smooth court. Using an outdoor ball on an indoor surface won’t be a good experience for anyone.Outdoor and indoor balls may vary, so players should choose accordingly based on their playing environment.

Court: Pickleball courts are smaller than tennis courts. Tennis courts are 78 feet long by 36 feet wide for doubles play.  In contrast, pickleball courts are 44 feet long by 20 feet wide for doubles play.  For both tennis and pickleball the net is 36” high in the center of the court. When the inventors of pickleball first laid out the court, they used the badminton height for the net – 70″. But quickly they changed it to the tennis court net height of 36″.*

Eyewear: Protective eyewear is being recommended more often now. Regular sunglasses could work, but pickleball glasses are designed for the rigors of the sport. Whether you’re a casual player or a hard-core competitor, wearing proper protective eyewear don’t fog up, cut glare, and provide more clear vision. More importantly, protective eyewear can prevent injuries caused by impact from the ball or a racquet and even accidental collisions with other players on the court. As with the other gear, eyewear is an individual choice and there are many options available.

Reasons for Popularity

Social Aspect: Pickleball provides an excellent opportunity for socializing and forming connections. Many middle-aged players appreciate the sense of community that comes with the game, fostering new friendships and strengthening existing ones.

Low-Impact Exercise: Pickleball offers a low-impact alternative to the higher intensity of tennis and to other high-impact, high-intensity sports.  The game doesn’t move as quickly as tennis so it’s a great choice for those looking for a more joint-friendly activity. However, there are some common injuries that pickleball players experience.

According to everydayhealth.com, players over 40 have a higher injury rate than those between 25 – 34.  But fortunately because it’s a relatively, low-impact sport and (normally) non-contact most injuries are minor. The most common injuries are sprains and strains – ankles, hamstrings, knees, shoulders. A good way to help prevent these types of injuries is to warm up and stretch before starting your match.  Overall, the game’s structure allows players to engage in physical activity without excessive strain on the body. 

Quick Learning Curve: Unlike some sports that require extensive training, pickleball has a relatively short learning curve. It was conceived as a fun family activity by the inventors back in 1965 to keep a diverse age group entertained on a long holiday weekend. Players can usually pick up the basics and begin enjoying the game quickly without becoming overwhelmed by complex rules.

Fun Facts and Stats

According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), pickleball participation in the United States has grown by over 21% annually in recent years. SFIA estimates that 8.9 million Americans play pickleball.

The SFIA estimates that this rise in membership will drive the need for more than 25,000 new courts at an estimated cost of $900 million to keep up with demand.

The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) reports a significant increase in the number of registered players, with a 650% rise from 2013 to 2022.

Pickleball is played in over 5,000 locations across the United States, highlighting its widespread popularity and accessibility.

Conclusion

Pickleball’s rise among middle-aged individuals can be attributed to its inclusive nature, social benefits, and low-impact exercise appeal. As participation continues to surge, the sport is likely to remain a favorite pastime for those seeking an enjoyable and health-conscious activity during their middle years.

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Why is pickleball so popular?
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  • Mary Cook

    Mary Cook, also known as “MC” and “Mother Mary,” is heralded as one of the world’s few content whisperers. She is the creative force and Marcom Director at ThirtyFiveSixtyFour. Armed with a degree in English from UCLA, Mary is not just your average wordsmith—she’s a grammar nerd with a penchant for storytelling that captivates and resonates.

    Born into a big, close-knit family with seven siblings, Mary is committed to keeping family connections and gatherings alive with boisterous fun and games. Mary brings a lot of energy to everything she does. She’s as dedicated to her role as Marcom Director as she is to her role as favorite auntie to her 22 crazy, loving nieces and nephews.

    A life-long athlete, Mary’s passion for sports has transformed into a love for the adrenaline rush. When she’s not weaving words for our podcasts, you’ll find her carving waves on a jet ski or navigating desert trails in her RZR. Mary’s adventurous spirit is as diverse as her ability to craft compelling narratives for our audience.

    In a world that often craves attention, Mary thrives behind the scenes. Her meticulous attention to detail and commitment to excellence are the driving forces that elevate our Marcom strategy. As the wordsmith-in-chief, Mary ensures that every piece of communication reflects the essence of ThirtyFiveSixtyFour.

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About the Author

Mary Cook, also known as “MC” and “Mother Mary,” is heralded as one of the world’s few content whisperers. She is the creative force and Marcom Director at ThirtyFiveSixtyFour. Armed with a degree in English from UCLA, Mary is not just your average wordsmith—she’s a grammar nerd with a penchant for storytelling that captivates and resonates.

Born into a big, close-knit family with seven siblings, Mary is committed to keeping family connections and gatherings alive with boisterous fun and games. Mary brings a lot of energy to everything she does. She’s as dedicated to her role as Marcom Director as she is to her role as favorite auntie to her 22 crazy, loving nieces and nephews.

A life-long athlete, Mary’s passion for sports has transformed into a love for the adrenaline rush. When she’s not weaving words for our podcasts, you’ll find her carving waves on a jet ski or navigating desert trails in her RZR. Mary’s adventurous spirit is as diverse as her ability to craft compelling narratives for our audience.

In a world that often craves attention, Mary thrives behind the scenes. Her meticulous attention to detail and commitment to excellence are the driving forces that elevate our Marcom strategy. As the wordsmith-in-chief, Mary ensures that every piece of communication reflects the essence of ThirtyFiveSixtyFour.