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There is little doubt that the game of pickleball has seen an increase in popularity recently. From its beginning back in 1965 in Bainbridge, Washington, the game has come a long way. Because of the growth of the sport, it’s hard to provide accurate estimates of the number of pickleball players out there. But the number that seems most popular recently is that over 2 million people in the U.S. alone are enjoying it. And that’s a huge increase over just 6 years ago. Growth estimates are that the numbers have risen about 64% since 2010.

Pickleball is most popular with people over 60 years of age. Recent numbers show that 68% of all pickleball players are over 60. The game is extremely popular at senior centers and recreation facilities and is becoming more popular everyday. Industry experts predict that in a few years there could be as many as 8 million players playing the game.

The USAPA, which stands for the USA Pickleball Association, has seen their membership numbers also rapidly increase since 2010. Not only membership numbers, but they have tracked the number of pickleball courts (courts specifically for pickleball) as well as places to play (includes basketball gyms or tennis courts fitted to the game) and those numbers have also risen dramatically over the same span.

It’s hard to pinpoint why the dramatic increase in recent years, but many think it is most popular with those of the baby boomer generation. Primarily because of its similarity to tennis but with less physical effort required to play. The game also lends itself nicely to playing with a partner in a doubles format. Doubles play actually provides even less court space to cover and allows players to partner up which makes it even more of a social experience.

Part of the rise in popularity of the game is that it is now extending outside of retirement community settings and is starting to pop up in other locations where it has never been. This is in part because programs are being initiated in elementary, middle schools and high schools around the country.

With the number of pickleball tournaments growing, more people are being exposed to the game which is also bringing in many new players. Those numbers will only grow as this sport begins getting more exposure.

Pickleball is also not just popular in the U.S. Although the U.S. boast the highest percentage of players, it’s estimated that over 30% of players worldwide come from outside of the United States. Many of the same reasons that pickleball is popular in the U.S., also applies to players from other parts of the world.

So if you’re one of those people who has yet to give pickleball a try, what are you waiting for?

February 17, 2017 — Chase Leavitt