According to a recent article written by Jane Bryant, a BBC correspondent in New Hampshire, pickleball (a game with Olympic aspirations) has been experiencing a surge in participation. During the past year of pandemic restrictions and health concerns due to COVID-19, pickleball has offered a relatively safe way to maintain fitness and social connections.
“And although many activities, such as team sports, became difficult to access or were shut down because of the pandemic, an extra 8.1 million Americans became more active last year, with pickleball, hiking, and cycling leading the way,” according to the article.
The Sport and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) claims that pickleball participation grew by a whopping 21.3% last year. This trend has been reflective of the past five years as pickleball’s allure has captured an increasing number of participants year to year.
Unlike many sports that require comprehensive instruction to play at the entry-level, an hour’s worth of basic instruction will put a player on the court enjoying a game. The quick lesson, a pair of court shoes, a paddle, a ball, a place to play, and a good attitude will gain entry to this highly accessible sport. Though pickleball is easy to learn, it can remain challenging to play at higher levels as skills improve, which keeps competitive players engaged.
Though pickleball is particularly popular among seniors, the number of “younger people” that are enthusiastic about the game is also growing. Reportedly, many have been first exposed to it by an older member of their own family. Pickleball lends itself well to fun, competitive games with players of mixed generations.
A whole new industry around pickleball is developing as the demand for certified pickleball instruction, camps, and tournaments is exploding with the increase in participation. Competitive tournaments, with monetary prizes for the pro-level, have drawn the attention and allegiance of a growing number of world-class athletes. Former collegiate and professional competitors in tennis, badminton, table tennis, racquetball, and other racquet sports are taking up the game and “are most likely to become professional players” according to Stu Upson, Chief Executive of USA Pickleball, the sport’s national governing body.
The fact that pickleball has such a strong social element has made it particularly appealing during the pandemic. Pickleball has offered an avenue to stay safe outdoors, maintain fitness, and, most importantly, stay connected with others. Pickleball players are very excited to meet others who play and will coax those who do not into trying it. I suggest you paddle-up because sooner or later a player will succeed in luring you onto the court to share the unbridled enthusiasm for the sport.
To join SaddleBrooke Pickleball Association Inc online, visit the website at www.spa.clubexpress.com.
See you on the courts!