Why Pickleball Has Become a Viral Sensation in the U.S.

When you’re in the mood to get active with friends, numerous sports are at your disposal. If you enjoy tennis and badminton, you’ll likely love pickleball too. Check out this guide to learn more about why pickleball is gaining in popularity so quickly and how you can add it to your hobbies.

What Is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a four-player sport that happens on a court, much like tennis. The four players pair off into two teams on either side of a low net across the court. They use solid paddles slightly larger than ping pong paddles to hit a pickleball to each other, only letting it bounce once off the court. Whichever team gets to 11 points first wins the game.

Why Is Pickleball Gaining in Popularity So Quickly?

Pickleball is gaining in popularity so quickly because USA Pickleball, the sport’s leading organization, rebranded the sport in 2020 with a new marketing approach. Instead of exclusively advertising to older communities looking for an activity that’s easy on the knees, they began making ads for people of all ages.

Brand ambassadors, influencers and partnerships with youth organizations have made the sport more widely known as a fun activity for everyone. Since taking off in communities across the country, the sport rose from 4.2 million participants in 2020 to 13.58 million in 2023.

Is Pickleball an Eco-Friendly Sport?

Playing pickleball can be a sustainable sport for people with eco-friendly values. If you set up a net in your backyard, you won’t need to burn fossil fuels to attend a professional court. All you need is an area that’s 20 feet wide and 44 feet long to ensure your game has a court-sized space.

The sport also leaves no mark on the environment because hitting the ball back and forth won’t rip up the grass or soil wherever you play the game.

Some pickleball manufacturers also create paddles with recycled materials to further reduce each player’s carbon footprint. Comparing potential equipment will give you the best choices for your sustainable lifestyle.

Are There Professional Pickleball Leagues?

There are numerous professional pickleball leagues because the sport is gaining in popularity so quickly. National leagues include:

  • Major League Pickleball (MLP)
  • National Pickleball League (NPL)
  • Professional Pickleball Association (PPA)
  • Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP)

The first two associations — MLP and NPL — organize individual and doubles games. The final two are team games only. Additionally, the National Collegiate Pickleball Association organizes competitions for college and university students.

Can Anyone Learn How to Play Pickleball?

Anyone can learn how to play pickleball by watching a helpful video or attending a lesson. It doesn’t take long to learn because you don’t need extensive training to participate, unlike other sports such as gymnastics. If you have good hand-eye coordination, you’ll easily get used to serving and scoring.

It’s also an excellent sport for people with disabilities. Kids with Down syndrome host their own games, while other people who use adaptive wheelchairs organize competitions at local courts. 

Why Did Pickleball Go Viral?

In addition to USA Pickleball’s new marketing efforts, the sport went viral in recent months due to TikTok. People have posted about how competitive it gets and even given the sport a relaxing evening vibe with sunset lighting and moody music. Some people even recorded themselves playing pickleball in a hurricane because they love it so much.

It’s hard to resist a trend that people clearly adore. Entertaining videos posted by individual players might even be more effective than brand marketing in some cases. Research shows that 60% of consumers buy something after a family member or friend posts about it. Capturing people’s interest in the same way with pickleball videos makes it more appealing to people scrolling through their social media feeds.

Benefits of Playing Pickleball

There are numerous mental and physical health benefits of playing pickleball regularly. See if you’d like to experience any of these positive effects by incorporating the sport into your life.

Cardio Exercise Improves Your Heart Health

When you get active and feel your heart beating faster than normal, that’s great for your body. The heart chambers get stronger with each round of exercise, reducing the chance of heart disease as you age. If you play pickleball long-term, you’ll stay healthy while having more fun.

Socializing Boosts Your Mental Health

Spending time with people you love is an excellent way to improve your mood. Living without experiencing social circumstances induces and exacerbates mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Even if your pickleball games only last for 15 or 30 minutes, you’ll feel happier after socializing on the court.

Improving Your Skills Makes You More Confident

You might feel nervous about trying a new sport because you’re not already good at it, but give yourself a chance. Socializing, getting better at a sport and seeing yourself succeed at things boosts your confidence by decreasing anxiety related to doing those things again. You can take your improved confidence into every aspect of life, even your next pickleball game.

Enjoy Playing Pickleball With Loved Ones

Now that you’ve learned more about why pickleball is gaining popularity so quickly, try it out for yourself. Ask a few friends to grab paddles and head to a local court. You may find you love the entertaining sport just as much as the time you’ll share with your loved ones.


Beth Rush
Author: Beth Rush

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