How popular has pickleball become? Here’s a key stat: A new report says that 14% of American adults — or 36.5 million U.S. residents — played the sport at least once from August of 2021 to August of last year.
That’s the headline-grabbing stat from the Association of Pickleball Professionals 2023 Pickleball Participation Report. The report listed plenty of additional numbers backing up the oft-repeated statement that pickleball is the United States’ fastest-growing sport.
One such stat? APP’s report said that 8.5 million U.S. residents played pickleball eight times or more during that same period stretching from August of 2021 to the same month in 2022. That’s an impressive level of commitment from a large number of players.
An even brighter future?
The future looks bright for the sport, too. According to the participation report, 45% of those 36.5 million players mentioned above said that they plan on playing pickleball more often in the next six months than they did during the previous six-month period.
“The first of what will be our annual APP Pickleball Participation Report clearly shows that pickleball is not only America’s fastest-growing sport, it is growing much faster than anyone really thought. Now, pickleball has to be viewed as one of America’s favorite sports.”Tom Webb, chief marketing officer of the APP, in a written statement
In a press release, Tom Webb, chief marketing officer of the APP, pointed to a steady growth in the sport from 2020 on. He said that in 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports stated that more than 4 million people played pickleball. That number grew to 5 million a year later.
Webb said that those numbers appear to have been conservative in hindsight.
“What the APP’s report shows is that the popularity of pickleball has exploded. Pickleball courts continue to be built and installed nationwide, and people from coast to coast are trying the sport for the first time and immediately falling in love with pickleball.”Tom Webb
The perfect storm for a pickleball growth spurt?
What’s behind the boom in pickleball? The APP says that the sport is easy to learn and play. It helps, too, that pickleball is an inexpensive sport, requiring little more than the cost of a paddle and some pickleballs.
And as Webb says, people can often play competitively the first time they hit a pickleball court.
As the sport’s popularity increases, a growing number of professionals are joining tours and competing in tournaments. These professional matches are steadily drawing more fans, according to the APP report.
“I fell in love with pickleball the very first time I played. As the sport grows, so does the recognition of what it takes to be a pro, and that’s hugely rewarding. The number of fans at our events increases with almost every competition, and now that we know just how big the sport is, that will only continue.”Megan Fudge DeHeart, professional pickleball player, in APP press release
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