sports

Why Pickleball Growth Is Incredible

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YinYang

Why won’t people shut up about pickleball? It’s a fair question. Pickleball is so hot right now, like Hansel in 2001.

But just like Derek Zoolander warmed up to the flashy Male Model of the Year’s charm, you too will warm up to pickleball...as soon as you decide to step on the court.

[ MORE: Pickleball is the Sport of the Future ]

Most articles credit pickleball growth to the fact that Grandma can play sans the risk of a broken hip and that it’s generally easy to play.

While partially true, it’s a lazy narrative. I’m here to give you the full scope of the sport's surge into the spotlight, and why the pickleball growth is poised to continue... exponentially.

The Sport Is An Equalizer

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RichLegg

Everyone can play with everyone. Grandpa can play with little Johnny. Mom can play with Dad. And what’s more, grandpa, Little Johnny, mom and dad can all play a legitimately competitive match together. Why/how?

Well, the same reasons that people claim it to be ‘easy.'

The court is smaller, which means there’s less ground to cover. Grandpa doesn’t have to move as much.

The ball is perforated. Ever played wiffle ball? You crack the ball square off the face of the bat and it explodes with velocity. But then, it decelerates aggressively, and the ball is caught for an out.

Same thing. Player A smashes a juicy overhead to the open court and it looks like the rally is over, but instead, the ball slows just enough for player B to get a defensive paddle on it and the point continues.

The result? Longer points, and more importantly, more intense ones.

My uncle’s favorite part about the game is that you can take four random people, stick ‘em on the court, and they’ll be guaranteed to have at least one chaotic, scrambling rally that leaves everyone out of position, out of breath, and doubled-over in laughter. It’s a good time.

You don’t need to be in peak athletic form, and you don’t need a sports background.

Were you a band geek? Great. Are you Jared before the Subway Diet? Perfect. Are you an all-time great NFL receiver? Cool, Larry Fitzgerald plays, too.

Pickleball Is Highly Social

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kali9

The game is highly social. The court is smaller, and thus players are more proximate. This lends to conversation, camaraderie, and a feeling of togetherness.

Former competitive tennis studs will tell you that pickleball serves as a refreshing foil to tennis’ ultra-competitive, Mean Girls culture.

Simply put: you’ll make friends. And as alluded to above, you’ll double-over in laughter with your new friends. Some good ole’ fashion bonding.

Minor Learning Curve

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YinYang

The learning curve is essentially non-existent (at least for casual play). Anyone can pick up a paddle and play competitively their first time on the court.

In fact, it’s delusion-inducing. Like golf, but on steroids.

As you walk off the court, that little voice in your head whispers: “You know, if you just practiced a bit more, maybe you could go pro."

And that’s how the addiction begins.

Longevity

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RichLegg

You can play for hours. Like, hours and hours. And you can play the next day and the next day.

On top of that, it’s good for you. If you’re a fitness tracker enthusiast, your strain will look like you just ran a marathon.

The quick stops and starts will cause your heart rate variability to read like a HIIT-trainer’s dream.

Professional Level

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MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images / Contributor

Money is pouring in at the pro level. Investors? Could be you...well, it could have been you. You’re already too late:

Carolina Hurricanes owner and billionaire Tom Dundon just bought the Pro Pickleball Association. He’s got big plans.

Major League Pickleball just launched in Austin, with financial backers like noted speaker Brene Brown and Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry.

And the most recent development? Gary Vaynerchuk bought a Major League Pickleball team.

Yup, the guy known specifically for predicting the next big thing (Short-form video, NFTs, Collectibles, TikTok, to name a few) just bet big on the burgeoning sport.

Perhaps Vaynerchuk will be involved in expanding pickleball growth the same way he has with other ventures.

There are two pro tours and one pro league. Ex-tennis studs are rushing into the sport with hopes of being the next Ben Johns or Anna Leigh Waters (look them up).

Easy Accessibility

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RichLegg

The barrier to entry is nominal. Want to play tennis? Gotta find a court. Want to go cycling? Better start saving for that bike.

Want to play pickleball? Grab some chalk, a $100 kit with everything you need for four players and spin up a game in the street.

Not to mention, every dormant tennis-court across the country is just waiting to be converted into a pickleball court. In fact, it’s leading to tennis vs. pickleball feuds in towns across America.

All in all, it seems like all of the forces in the world are converging in pickleball’s favor.

Celebrity Players

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Clive Brunskill / Staff

For better or worse, Hollywood is obsessed with pickleball.

No seriously, look at this list of A-listers who play: Ellen Degeneres, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Larry David, David Dobrik and the list goes on.

I probably don’t need to tell you that people tend to follow Hollywood’s lead.

So the next time you hear someone talking about pickleball and wonder “why won’t people shut up about it?”

Here’s a short summary: The pickleball explosion is here to stay and the sport is pretty awesome.

Thomas Shields is the founder of The Dink, a pickleball news and media company dedicated to the blossoming sport.

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