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Why Is Pickleball So Popular in the United States Nowadays?

A pickleball pad and ball are shown in this blog feature image. The text on the image is Why Is Pickleball So Popular in the USA.
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Want to know, “why is pickleball so popular”? You are at right place. Pickleball has seen exponential growth in the number of players since 2018 to 2023 last and still increasing in 2024. That it is now named as the fastest-growing sport in the United States.

Last November, the 2023 BioFreeze National Pickleball Championships broke the all-time attendance record of a pickleball tournament, with about 50,000 attendees attending the games over a week with a live TV viewership of 2.6 million people.

Its growth as a racquet sport has not gone unnoticed by tennis enthusiasts, who are often skeptical of the sport and its merit. And they are rightful to be cynical.

More and more tennis courts are being changed to pickleball courts as the latter’s popularity grows.

Sam Querrey is a professional pickleball player and a former tennis athlete with a career-high singles rank of no. 11, has said, “As far as a participation sport, I think pickleball will pass tennis in 10 years.” This begs the question: why is pickleball becoming so popular?

We explore the nature of pickleball to understand its appeal to the masses below.

What is Pickleball

The first pickleball game was played in the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington. The sport emerged from badminton, tennis, and ping pong.  Fast forward to today, and pickleball has become a sensation, attracting players of all ages.

The sport’s charm is in its simplicity, yet it also involves strategic gameplay, which keeps it interesting for players who employ physical and mental tactics to perform well.

The pickleball court is smaller than one-half of a tennis court. It uses a net similar to tennis − except the net’s height is lower − and a ball similar to the plastic whiffle ball with hollow perforations.

The players engage in fast volleys and rallies, outsmarting each other with complex shots. It’s a game where grandparents can challenge grandkids, and laughter is just as essential as skill.

Pickleball’s rise in popularity is no accident. It’s easy to pick up, encouraging as a beginner, bringing you to a friendly community, and adaptable to various playing strategies.

On the court, two players play pickleball
Pickleball is enjoyed across the board by children, adults, and seniors alike.

Why Is Pickleball So Popular

One of the main reason is that any age can learn and can play easily this sport.

If the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) is to be believed, pickleball players almost doubled between 2021 and 2022.

There are regular updates on USA Pickleball’s website for new pickleball court site locations. Let’s discuss the appeal of the sport.

Why Is Pickleball Becoming So Popular

The popularity of pickleball can be attributed to the sport’s universal appeal, gentle learning curve, tight-knit community spirit, and ability to provide a fulfilling yet accessible workout. Let’s unravel the secrets behind the widespread adoration for this engaging and lighthearted game.

Universal Appeal

Pickleball’s universal appeal spans generations, attracting retirees and the under-24 crowd alike. In a general pickleball club, you’ll find people of all ages, from retirees to young professionals and children.

The court’s smaller size, less intense pace, and the prevalence of doubles matches make it accessible to all skill levels and generations, creating an environment where players of varying ages can enjoy the sport together, fostering inclusivity and community.

Its adaptability and social nature make it a game where grandparents can challenge grandkids, fostering a sense of inclusivity that transcends age barriers.

Easy To Pick

Pickleball stands out for its gentle learning curve, making it an attractive option for beginners. The game’s simple rules, the plastic whiffle-like ball, and a manageable paddle ease newcomers into the sport. Easy rules and pick-up motivate people to keep at a sport.

Unlike mainstream sports with steep learning curves, pickleball provides a friendly entry point, ensuring that virtually anyone can grasp the basics and enjoy the fun without feeling overwhelmed.

Gives Access To A Welcoming Community

Another reason why pickleball is so popular is that, beyond the court lines, pickleball creates a tight-knit community where friendships flourish.

The social nature of the game, combined with its inclusive atmosphere, fosters a sense of belonging. Players share laughter, camaraderie, and a love for the sport, creating an environment that transcends the competitive aspect.

Pickleball’s community extends beyond local courts, connecting players in a network of shared experiences and mutual enthusiasm, reinforcing that it’s more than just a game.

Requires Mild Exertion

While pickleball delivers a fulfilling workout, its moderate intensity sets it apart as an inclusive fitness option. Compared to more physically demanding sports, pickleball’s slower pace and smaller court size make it accessible to individuals with varying fitness levels.

The game offers a fantastic way to stay active without excessive strain, providing an enjoyable exercise experience. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or looking for a fun and health-conscious activity, pickleball’s blend of exertion and enjoyment makes it an ideal choice.

When Did Pickleball Become Popular

In 2001, pickleball was introduced in the Arizona Senior Olympics drawing hundrend players, which was the largest event to be played at that point. Later, events would begin growing to nearly three hundred players.

Pickleball’s distinctive blend of tennis, badminton, and ping pong also proved ideal for all ages and skill levels, attracting a whopping 4.8 million players in the U.S. in 2021.

Celebrity Investments

However, the sport’s elevation to stardom goes beyond its inherent appeal. Major League Pickleball (MLP), founded in 2021, emerged as a critical player to boast pickleball’s status from a backyard entertainment to a state-level sport.

It introduced 24 teams in the arena and grouped them at Premier and Challenger levels. Like England’s soccer system, the unique structure introduces a promotion system that excites the league.

The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on traditional sports, with cancellations, closed facilities, and a lack of spectators, further fueled the rise of outdoor activities, with pickleball emerging as a prime choice.

As pickleball continues its expansion, facilitated by leagues like MLP, the sport’s narrative is now entwined with celebrities, creating a unique blend of entertainment and sports that has captured the public’s imagination.

In all honesty, to answer the question, “Why is pickleball becoming so popular?” we can’t miss the influx of celebrity investments in the sport, which helped propel pickleball into the mainstream.

Renowned figures like LeBron James, Naomi Osaka, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Eva Longoria, Drake, and Michael B. Jordan. The star-studded ownership roster highlights the sport’s cross-industry allure, which helped pique more people’s interest.

Population and Geographical Distribution of Pickleball Popularity

Pickleball’s popularity is skewed toward middle and old age in the US:

This infographic image shows the number of active pickleball players by gender.
Age distribution of pickleball players in the U.S. in 2021.

The game is also male-dominated, though a steady increase in female players is visible through the years:

Gender-wise composition of total number of pickleball players in the U.S. in 2021.

Where Is Pickleball Most Popular in The World

Pickleball enjoys the most popularity in the world for obvious reasons. It was invented in USA and ties very well with our communal landscape. The efforts of U.S. organizations and tournaments promote the sports Canada, Australia, Japan and other countries.

Once MLP started organizing its events, the sport saw manifold growth, attracted celebrity investments, and fostered a burgeoning pickleball culture, firmly establishing the United States as the nucleus of its global community. As of 2023, there are about 36.5 million pickleball players in the US, MLP reports.

States That Love Pickleball

While the question of which state loves pickleball most is subjective, some statistics provide objectivity to these opinions. The West Coast, notably California, is a nucleus for the sport, boasting a staggering 794 known locations, making it the premier destination for the sport in the United States.

Following closely behind, Florida takes the second spot with 770 locations, solidifying its reputation as a pickleball stronghold. Texas secures the third position, offering 519 locations for enthusiasts to indulge in this rapidly growing sport. States in the Northeast, including New York, have witnessed a surge in pickleball popularity.

Moving beyond states, Seattle was found to be the most pickleball-friendly city in the country, with 4.1 courts per 20,000 people in June 2023. It has 49 known locations, with Denver following suit as the second city with 37 courts, while Portland completes the top three.

State-by-state pickleball locations show the number of players in each state
State-wide distribution of pickleball courts in 2021

Reasons To Play Pickleball

Pickleball has become more than just a recreational activity; it’s a cultural phenomenon that continues to captivate hearts nationwide.

The sport has a fortunately intriguing blend of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, this fast-paced sport has gained widespread popularity recently. In exploring why pickleball has become popular, we unveil the unique aspects that make it an enticing choice for players of all ages and skill levels.


Pickleball is an inclusive sport catering to individuals of varying ages and skill sets. The sport’s rules, resembling pong, make it easy for beginners to grasp quickly.

The adaptability of pickleball fosters an environment where beginners and experts alike can have a good time. This inclusivity is one of the reasons why pickleball has become popular, breaking down barriers to entry that often hinder participation in other sports.

Communal Bonding

The camaraderie and social interactions fostered by pickleball contribute significantly to its widespread appeal. Unlike some sports that may have steep learning curves, pickleball’s engaging and collaborative nature makes it a perfect setting for forming new connections and strengthening existing relationships.

The sense of community on pickleball courts is a refreshing way to meet new people and build connections, making it a favored choice for those seeking physical activity and a social outlet. This sense of community is a fundamental aspect of the reason why pickleball has become popular.

Health and Fitness Benefits

Beyond its social aspects, pickleball offers a full-body workout that contributes to improved physical health.

Engaging in pickleball enhances cardiovascular fitness, agility, and hand-eye coordination. The sport’s dynamic nature ensures players maintain an active lifestyle while enjoying the game.

This combination of health benefits is another reason why pickleball has become popular among those looking for an enjoyable way to stay fit.

Adaptable to Various Settings

Pickleball’s versatility shines through its adaptability to different playing environments. Whether indoors or outdoors, on dedicated courts or makeshift setups, pickleball can be enjoyed in diverse settings.

The flexibility to play in various locations contributes to its widespread adoption and aligns with the modern lifestyle where accessibility is critical. This adaptability is a crucial factor and one of the reasons why pickleball has become popular in urban and suburban areas.

Frequently Asked Questions

To summarize our discussion, “Why pickleball is so popular?”, we will sum up our major points with frequently asked questions.

The communal atmosphere on pickleball courts fosters new connections, which turns the sport into a social activity rather than just a sport. The mild exertion game also has several health benefits contributing to its mass appeal. You don’t have to possess extreme athletic prowess to excel in the game, which makes the game more accessible for people of all ages.

Pickleball offers a unique fusion of simplicity, social interaction, and health benefits. As a sport that accommodates all skill levels, it has become a go-to activity for diverse age groups seeking recreational fun and competition. Its low-impact physical requirements and indoor/outdoor switching capabilities make it a friendly sport for any weather and setting.

The reason why pickleball is so popular is that it has an irresistible blend of accessibility and excitement. The game’s quick learning curve and adaptability make it an ideal choice for players of all ages and skill levels. The lively and social atmosphere on the court fosters camaraderie and shared enjoyment, creating a sense of community. The game’s simplicity and the joy derived from rallying with friends or teammates contribute to the widespread affection, making pickleball a beloved pastime for enthusiasts worldwide.

Pickleball is a perfect blend of tennis, ping pong, and badminton, which requires mental strategies more than athletic prowess to succeed. This means people of all ages can find something of their interest and aptitude there.

The sport is accessible to all ages, is versatile in its gameplay, and can quickly turn into a social activity because of its mildly exertive nature. Pickleball’s adaptability to various settings, from indoor courts to makeshift outdoor spaces, and the sense of community and camaraderie on the pickleball court make it an easy go-to activity one can enjoy with friends and family.

Pickleball has been the fastest-growing sport in the United States since 2018. The sport has captivated the interest of about 36.5 million people in 2023, a phenomenal surge from previous years. Between 2021 and 2022, the sport saw an 85.7% increase in players. The sport’s accessibility, easy-to-learn rules, and adaptability contribute to its rapid growth, making it a go-to choice across ages and skill levels.

As pickleball courts multiply across the country, the sport’s unprecedented rise underscores its status as a cultural phenomenon. It solidifies its position as the fastest-growing athletic pursuit in the United States.

Pickleball has been the fastest-growing sport in the United States since 2018. eSports is the fastest-growing sport in the world.

Seattle stands as the undefeated champion regarding population-wide availability of pickleball courts. Apart from Seattle, New York City boasts 279 pickleball courts and multiple facilities allowing players to practice. Other cities with impressive courts for their population size are St. Peterburg, Lincoln, Madison, St. Paul, etc.

Pickleball benefits your heart, brain, strength, and balance. To avoid injury, ensure a proper warm-up, wear the right shoes, and play at your own pace.

Pickleball’s Appeal: A Cultural Phenomenon in the U.S.

The exponential rise in pickleball players across the United States reflects a perfect storm of factors. There’s a pandemic-induced need for safe and entertaining recreation, celebrity investments injecting exposure and glamour, and the sport’s innate appeal to the masses.

To answer the simple question of why pickleball is popular, we would like to answer that it is a blend of accessibility, celebrity allure, and communal joy that has extended its role beyond being just a sport. It is a cultural phenomenon. As pickleball continues to conquer new territories, it is a testament to the dynamic evolution of sports culture in the U.S.

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Charles Melton
Charles Melton
Charles has competed professionally for the past 11 years, having picked up the sport in sophomore high. He remembers the first time he held the paddle and made a shot toward his P.E. coach. Since then, he hasn’t looked back. He likes to write and play with Darcy the pug in his free time. He is associated with The Pickleball Professionals.