Pickleball has transformed from being a sport favored by the elderly into a pop culture phenomenon. Here’s how it happened.
Over the past few years, Pickleball has undergone explosive growth. In early 2021, the Association of Pickleball Players conducted a survey, revealing that approximately 5 million people were actively participating. A more recent survey extending into 2022 discovered that 36 million people had taken up pickleball paddles.
However, many people are now pondering how and why the sport achieved such rapid popularity.
The Origins of Pickleball
The origins of pickleball date back to 1965 when three friends in Washington attempted to play badminton but encountered a shortage of rackets. They resorted to using ping pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. After introducing the game to friends and family, it quickly began to spread.
Although initially inspired by badminton, pickleball gained recognition as a simplified version of tennis, catering more to older players as a slower-paced alternative.
How Did Pickleball Get So Popular?
The recent surge in pickleball’s mainstream popularity can be attributed to several key factors.
During the pandemic, as people practiced social distancing, they sought new ways to stay active and enjoy the outdoors. Pickleball offered a unique solution, combining both, along with the added advantage of using paddles to avoid direct contact.
Another contributing factor to pickleball’s growth is its simplicity. Originally perceived as a sport for older individuals, this characteristic also makes it easy to learn and play.
Furthermore, consumer-grade pickleball equipment is quite affordable, with a starter set available on Amazon for as little as $30.
Since experiencing this explosive growth, pickleball has garnered significant attention from influencers and celebrities. In August, YouTuber David Dobrik even hosted a celebrity pickleball tournament, while professional athletes like LeBron James and Tom Brady have invested in professional pickleball teams. Additionally, major brands such as Sketchers and Carvana are pouring more resources and attention into the sport.
So, if you’re in search of an easy-to-play, cost-effective, and enjoyable sport, it might be time to pick up a paddle.