June 9, 2016
Contrary to popular belief, pickleball is not reserved for just the 50+ age group. In fact, PGA golf professional Michael Putnam plays regularly with his buddies and San Diego Padre teammates play pickleball during spring training. A high school softball player in Hawaii picked up the game as a cross training tool to improve her reaction time.
Some play to improve foot speed, hand eye coordination and even switch the pickleball paddle from right hand to left in order to train their non-dominant side. Kids suffering from concussions and other injuries are playing because of the lightweight paddle, smaller court and less chance for injury. Whatever the reason, people are picking up paddles and playing.
Pickleball courts can be found in community parks, schools, rec centers, living communities, rv parks, tennis clubs and more. Parks and Rec Departments are getting overwhelming requests from community members for a place to play pickleball. In response, courts are being installed anywhere there’s a solid surface. Asphalt, concrete, on underutilized tennis courts, basketball courts, roller hockey slabs and even parking lots are perfect for pickleball.
Parks are meeting the demands of the public and are appreciating the increase in activity. Underutilized surfaces are being repurposed for courts without needing to increase real estate and as the sport grows additional courts are being added. Columbus has seen such a demand that they are redesigning a local park and have plans to build 12 pickleball courts.
Putting size in perspective, 1 tennis court can be converted into a maximum of 4 pickleball courts. In this case, 16 pickleball players will use a court surface that was designated for just 4 tennis players in the past. Depending on space and overall layout, some place just 2 pickleball courts on 1 tennis court and in some cases, 6 pickleball courts replace 2 tennis courts.
Indoor pickleball picked up popularity in the 80’s among elementary schools and has been included in the curriculum ever since. High school gymnasiums can hold up to 8 courts, depending on the gym size and the use of retractable bleachers. Kids find pickleball to be exciting, athletic and some are seeking out competitive play. Recently a 9-year-old enthusiast joined a pickleball club in Boise and recently a 21-year-old won the US Open Pickleball Championships in Naples, FL.
The USAPA (United States Pickleball Association) has been instrumental in driving recent popularity of the sport throughout the US. Over 1,400 USAPA Ambassador volunteers are keyed into local pickleball resources, they help players find courts, programs, clinics, tournament opportunities and answer general questions about pickleball. Just click on the USAPA website and find an ambassador near you.
With a 132% increase over the last 3 years, Justin Maloof, Executive Director of the USAPA gave us additional details. On a national level, the US Open Pickleball Championships aired May 20th on CBS Sports, clips can be found on YouTube – Pickleball Channel. In November, the 2016 USAPA Nationals VIII tournament may earn network exposure as well. Regardless, the event will be live streamed via the USAPA website. Other exciting advancements include the distribution of Pickleball Magazine in all Barnes and Noble bookstores.
Internationally, pickleball associations have already been established in Canada, Spain, India, England and France. Justin is expecting applications to be submitted from the Netherlands, China and Japan. With rapid international growth, pickleball professionals hope that someday pickleball will secure Olympic status.
Sports Imports has been providing pickleball net systems to Recreational Facilities, Schools, Universities and enthusiasts since the early 1980’s. We recently launched our new outdoor Parks & Rec equipment, the PRPB pickleball net system can be found on the Sports Imports website at sportsimports.com.
Sports Imports is partners with the NCAA, AVCA, USA Volleyball and NFHS. Our volleyball net systems are found at the Center of Every Championship and have been trusted by coaches and athletes since 1976.