A Look Inside Pickleball’s Explosive Growth

A Look Inside Pickleball's Explosive Growth

Are you athletic and passionate about playing sports? If you are looking for a good and healthy way to spend your free time, you can play pickleball! Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country, with millions of enthusiastic trainers, coaches, and players. Curious about the games and its booming popularity? Read on to learn more.

Fast Facts on Pickleball

A Look Inside Pickleball's Explosive Growth
  1. Pickleball was created in Bainbridge Island, Washington in 1965.
  2. Invention credits go to three fathers Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum.
  3. The sports namesake is linked to Pickles the Cocker Spaniel, owned by Pritchard, because the dog kept chasing the ball while the owners were playing.
  4. The rules of the game are a mix of table tennis, badminton, and tennis regulations.
  5. The sport has a governing body, USAPA or United States of America Pickleball Association.
  6. For players around the world, the International Federation of Pickleball helps regulate the sport in countries like Canada, France, Great Britain, and Spain.
  7. Pickleball is now included in the curriculum of many grade schools and junior high schools.
  8. Pickleball can be played as both singles and doubles sport.
  9. This can also be considered as an adaptive sport, meaning you can play it on wheelchairs.
  10. The first annual US Open championship started in 2016, while the first world tournament was held in 1976 in Washington.

Who is Interested in Playing Pickleball?

A Look Inside Pickleball's Explosive Growth

If there’s one great thing about the sport, it’s that it can be played by anyone from a wide age range. It’s a non-contact sport that does not require extreme physical skills because the ground to cover is not much.

Pickleball is recommended as an excellent option if you are older or not in great shape and still looking to be active. But, that does not mean that the sport is only for the elderly, even the youth can still enjoy this sport. Pickleball is versatile in the way that it can be casually played on a lazy afternoon, or be intensely hard-fought like a competition.

Pickleball by the Numbers

A Look Inside Pickleball's Explosive Growth

a. Searches over TimeNon-Volley Zone

From this data supplied by Google Trends, this set of data shows interest in the sport via the number of people searching the term on Google. 100 means peak popularity, while 50 means half popular, and 0 means not enough data.

This information is measured for interest in pickleball in the United States based on searches using Google.


January 2010 8

February 2011 10

February 2012 15

February 2013 17

March 2014 34

March 2015 35

May 2016 45

March 2017 54

March 2018 70

July 2018 82

June 2019 100

This information is measured for interest in pickleball in the United States based on video searches using Youtube.


January 2010 7

April 2011 7

February 2012 16

January 2013 12

April 2014 25

January 2015 37

July 2016 56

February 2017 87

May 2017 91

June 2019 100

The top 10 queries on Google related to pickleball are:

  1. Pickleball court
  2. Pickleball paddle
  3. Pickleball tournaments
  4. What is pickleball?
  5. Pickleball tournament
  6. Pickleball courts
  7. Pickleball near me
  8. Pickleball central
  9. Youtube pickleball
  10. Pickleball video

b. Interest based on State

According to Google Trends, these are the top 10 states where Pickleball is a significant search term:

  1. Utah – 100
  2. Arizona – 92
  3. Delaware – 54
  4. Maine – 51
  5. Florida – 49
  6. Idaho – 48
  7. Minnesota – 44
  8. Montana – 43
  9. Colorado – 43
  10. Kansas – 41

c. SFIA Repo

The Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) published a Pickleball Participant Report that produced the following information on the sport and its players. There are now 3.1 million players in the United States last 2018, which is a 12 percent increase compared to 2017. Here are more details explained in the 2016 report:

  1. In 2016, 1.57 million declared that they are casual players who play at least one to seven times a year.
  2. Around 930,000 are core players that play at least eight times within a year.
  3. In terms of gender, casual players are 63% male and 27% female.
  4. For core players, 73% are male, and 27% female.
  5. In playing more actively:

0.8% are aged 6 to 17,

5.5% are aged 18 to 34,

19.2% are aged 35 to 54,

31.8% are aged 55 to 64,

and 42.7% are aged above 64.

6. For casual playing, the numbers are a little different:

ages 6 to 17 are 18.5%,

ages 18 to 34 are 11.7%,

ages 35 to 54 are 29.4%,

ages 55 to 64 are 7.7%,

and ages 64 and up are at 5.4%.

USAPA and Their Role in the Sport’s Growth

A Look Inside Pickleball's Explosive Growth

The USA Pickleball Association was formed in 2005 to promote the sport across the country. Envisioning a bright future for the game, the organization regulates and maintains the official rules, sanctions, and tournaments for the uniform approach in playing. They also provide professional player rankings and also host the annual USA National Pickleball Championships Tournament. The association is composed of an executive director, board of directors, ambassador corps, and the organization members. All of these positions are voluntarily held and requires payment of dues.

As part of their mission, the USAPA has a network of around 1,800 ambassadors who have committed to show support and promote the playing of pickleball in their local areas. They serve as representatives for any activities related to pickleball and monitor if all games and tournaments abide by official pickleball rules.

The USAPA has a Community Grant Program and a High School Grant Program that proves their commitment to sharing the sport. They reimburse $250 for communities and $350 for schools for purchasing pickleball equipment for pickleball player training programs, physical education classes, and after-school programs. As of January 2019, the USAPA has helped 131 communities and 22 high schools with a total allocation of $40,000.

Reasons Why Pickleball is Gaining Popularity

Here are some reasons why pickleball is massively exploding in the United States, and why you should take the chance to play.

  1. People are migrating from tennis to pickleball. – Since pickleball is less intense than tennis and is played on smaller courts, more and more people are attracted to switch sports. It is relatively easy to pick up in terms of rules, and the service is less technical compared to tennis.
  2. People enjoy an inclusive and open community. – Pickleball is gaining fame because of how they welcome new members. While they are competitive matches, there is a large number of local clubs that have a very casual atmosphere that is perfect for beginners. 
  3. Pickleball does not really require too much equipment. – You only need paddles, a ball, and you can make do with a makeshift court or a portable pickleball net like the founders of the sport used to do.
  4. Pickleball is a very social activity. – It allows people to meet others and expand their network. Because playing it is so fun, you will see yourself laughing and relieving stress.
  5. It is effortless to set up playing locations. – In fact, due to public demand, many parks and recreation areas are converting their tennis courts for pickleball use. It can be played both indoors and outdoors, so it is an attractive option.
  6. There are several health benefits that you can get from playing this sport. – This is a significant reason why the aging population chooses this sport: to remain active and healthy. In basic terms, you can already see that pickleball can give you opportunities to exercise your body and mind.
  7. The sport is open for everyone. – Pickleball is one of the few athletic activities where you can see teenagers, pregnant women, parents, and grandparents enjoying the same sport. Pickleball is very family-friendly and can be an exciting way for families to spend time and bond together.

Top Pickleball Communities in the US

As the popularity of pickleball increases, so do the places where you can play get more available. According to USAPA, there are 6,885 places to play in their database. Here are some great communities where you can play pickleball.

  1. The Villages in Central Florida – Known as the Mecca of pickleball, this is the largest adult community in the world and has top-notch pickleball facilities that you can enjoy. There are around 100 courts that you can play on, and they have a very active club that hosts tournaments all year round.
  2. Solivita in Kissimmee, Florida – Home of the 1,000-player team, “Smashers,” this community has an extensive resource of pickleball courts where 17 are outdoors, and many are lighted for playing at night.
  3. PebbleCreek in Goodyear, Arizona – In this community, there is a long list of recreational activities you can enjoy. The residents have eight pickleball courts for a fun game with friends. Their pickleball club creates events for all skill levels throughout the year and tournaments for those with competitive spirits.
  4. Sun City Anthem in Henderson, Nevada – Pickleball enthusiasts will enjoy the Liberty Center, the community’s newest amenity complex. They have eleven pickleball courts and a home team that organizes many social events.
  5. Anthem Ranch in Broomfield, Colorado – This welcoming community is perfect for adults looking to keep fit, active and social. Their recreational center called Aspen Lodge has four pickleball courts where they can spend their time playing as much as they desire.

Final Thoughts

There’s no denying that pickleball won’t stop gaining more popularity in the years to come. With a diverse player pool and an increasing number of passionate supporters, many expect that the sport will continue reaping success. Don’t miss the chance of learning and trying out this sport. Grab a paddle and play pickleball now!

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