HotelPlanner Confirms the Pickleball Boom is Real

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The pandemic led to the rapid rise and fall of many different hobbies and interests, as people stuck in their own homes struggled to find ways to pass the time. But one activity seemed to weather the storm of the pandemic and emerge as an bona fide object of fascination for casual players and sports industry leaders alike: Pickleball. A fun combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, Pickleball is capturing the attention of Americans everywhere due to its unique blend of athleticism, socialization, and strategy. In fact, the number of players nearly doubled to 8.9 million in the US last year – an annual increase of around 85%. According to research from APP Pickleball Participation Report, the latest numbers from 2023 claim that 14% of Americans played a game of pickleball at least once in the last 12-month period, becoming the fastest growing sport in the country.

To cater to the rising demand, new players nationwide are organizing local teams and competitions. While pickleball communities and local groups are growing quickly and building new playing surfaces, the sport’s popularity has just as quickly transformed the game from a leisure activity to serious competition. A number of reports have been made throughout the country, from Texas to New York City, reporting on aggressive turf wars and “pickleball invasions”. So, with springtime upon us and the warm weather guaranteed to draw more pickleball fanatics to the courts, here’s more on where this sport came from and the reasons behind its surging popularity.

What is pickleball and why is it so popular?

Despite being relatively unknown just a few years back, pickleball was invented more than 50 years ago by three innovative fathers. In 1965, boredom ran true for the children of Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallaum, the creative founders of pickleball. That summer in Bainbridge Island, Washington, the fast-paced game of pickleball was created in the hopes of creating another entertaining option for their kids in place of their usual activities. As a paddle sport, pickleball is played on a smaller court with wooden paddles and a perforated plastic ball. It can be played either as a single or double with nets that divide the court slightly lower than in tennis.

There are many reasons why pickleball has become so loved by people across the country. For starters, it’s an incredibly engaging game that can be played by people of all ages and abilities. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a casual player looking for a fun time, pickleball offers an exciting experience that can be difficult to find in other sports. The sport’s simple rules and limited equipment provide a fun solution to exercise, as it requires quick reflexes, sharp hand-eye coordination, and plenty of movement around the court. Most importantly, pickleball is incredibly social. Coming out of the pandemic, an extremely isolating time for the entire world, pickleball was the outlet we were all looking for to not only bring us back outdoors, but bring us together through a lighthearted game anyone and everyone can play.

Are there professional pickleball leagues and professional teams?

Yes, there’s a professional pickleball league that was founded in 2021. Steve Kuhn, a former hedge fund manager, launched Major League Pickleball, which has 24 teams competing across six events this year. In early 2022, the Professional Pickleball Association was just bought by Tom Dundon. The PPA hosts the official pickleball tournament every year which features special events and competitive experiences. This year the tour is sponsored by Carvana with a total of 25 events with a single-season purse of $5.5 million. Organizations like these can help promote the growth of pickleball and provide a platform for players to compete at the highest levels of the sport. With the growing popularity, professional athletes and major names in the sports industry are even investing in teams. Along with a group of investors, Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, basketball star LeBron James, and tennis phenomenon Kim Clijster have all purchased pickleball teams. It doesn’t stop there, USA Pickleball, national governing body for the sport of pickleball in the US, announced a multi-year partnership with HotelPlanner, the world’s largest group booking platform, to provide accommodations and booking services for all pickleball USA events.

The rise of pickleball can be attributed to a combination of factors, including its engaging gameplay, accessibility to players of all ages and skill levels, and the growth of professional leagues and organizations. As more and more people discover pickleball, it’s clear this dynamic sport is here to stay, and we can expect to see its popularity continue to soar. There’s never been a better time to try your hand at the spirited and uniting game of pickleball.