Why You Should Start Playing Pickleball (America’s Fastest Growing Sport) 

You probably didn’t know pickleball is America’s fastest-growing sport, did you? It’s so popular, in fact, that the number of pickleball players in the United States grew more than 21 percent from 2019 to 2020, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). In total, there were 4.2 million pickleball players in 2020. With the explosive growth of many recreational outdoor sports among adults during the pandemic, the number of new pickleball players in 2021 has likely swelled even higher.

Besides being tons of fun, pickleball is a great low-impact sport to get you moving and burning calories. The game’s social aspect also makes it welcoming to many casual and beginner athletes.

man swinging pickleball paddle on court
Man playing pickleball

What is Pickleball, and How is it Played?

Imagine if you put the games of tennis, ping pong, and badminton into a blender with a wiffle ball and hit puree—voila—you’d have pickleball.

Pickleball is played on what looks something like a miniaturized version of a tennis court. The net is low and resembles a badminton net. Players use paddles to volley the ball—which is a slightly heavier version of a Wiffle ball—back and forth over the net. Games are played to 11 points (or a 2-point advantage if tied). Pickleball can be played indoors and outdoors, in singles or doubles, but you’re far more likely to see games of doubles.

The pace of play can be quite fast with experienced players but can also be slowed down. To ensure the game is played at the speed most comfortable for you, pair up with players who have similar goals. 

The rules are a little quirky—easy to follow, but it might take a few times of playing to remember! For a breakdown of the rules, visit USA Pickleball.

Not Just for Retirees

Sure, there are plenty of seniors who play pickleball. And jokes abound about pickleball being a sport where tennis players go to die. But in reality, pickleball attracts players of all ages. In fact, SFIA says 8 to 34-year-olds make up the most significant percentage of casual pickleball players (play seven times or less per year). Seniors aged 65 and older still comprise the largest group of regularly playing pickleballers (play 8+ times per year).

The widespread appeal of pickleball is arguably because it is played by the young and the old. And because it’s played on a small court with reasonably close contact, pickleball lends itself to being socially interactive. Regular pickleball players tend to become fast friends.

How to Start Playing Pickleball

The best way to start playing pickleball is to take a lesson if they are offered near you. Many facilities offer group lessons, which is a great way to learn the rules and connect with other newbies who can become pickleball partners after the lesson. A lesson will give you a simple breakdown of the rules and tips on things like how to serve, how to position yourself, and how to hold the paddle.

If a lesson isn’t an option, link up with a friend who plays pickleball and can teach you the rules. Again, the rules are pretty simple once you can remember them. 

The equipment you’ll need is minimal—a paddle and pickleballs. When it comes to courts, you’ll find a variety of options. Because of pickleball’s growing popularity, many cities now have designated pickleball courts. Some will have nets; some require you to provide your own. Private facilities will rent pickleball courts, and fees are usually nominal.

Time to Play!

Now that you know a bit more about pickleball, it’s time to start playing. Find a pickleball court in your city/state by checking out the Adults Play Sports directory (and be sure to bookmark it since we update it regularly).