Pickleball continues to be the fastest-growing sport in the US, and a new report says we’ll need more than 25,000 new courts in the coming years to keep up with demand.
Pickleball has exploded in popularity in recent years and, as of 2022, has 8.9 million players.
A new report says we’ll need more than 25,000 new courts to meet current and future demand.
The report found the average player is 35 years old, but the sport is also a hit with Gen Z and seniors.
America’s hottest sport is growing so quickly that we’ll need to build thousands of new courts — 25,784, to be exact — in the coming years to keep up with demand, a new report found.
Pickleball — which is a mix of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton — had 8.9 million players in 2022, an 85% increase from 2021, and is the fastest-growing sport in the country, according to the State of Pickleball: Participation & Infrastructure Report.
The research, produced by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) and the pickleball group Pickleheads, is based on a nationwide survey of 18,000 people in the US in 2022.
In order to fulfill current and future demand, there will need to be 25,784 new courts built in the country over the coming years at a cost of $902 million, the report found. For context, there are currently 51,937 pickleball courts across more than 12,000 facilities in the US, per the report.
“The sustained growth of pickleball in the past six years is virtually unprecedented,” SFIA president and CEO Tom Cove wrote in the report. “Pickleball is booming, and it is here to stay.”
To satisfy the growing interest in the sport, courts have sprung up in abandoned big-box stores at malls and been built on existing courts intended for other sports, like basketball and tennis.
“It’s almost like the gold rush — who’s gonna get their footprint faster,” Jorge Barragan, CEO of pickleball court operator The Picklr, previously told Insider of the race to build courts.
The sport draws younger and older players alike. The average age of a pickleball player is 35 years old, according to the report. While the largest number of players are between 25 and 34 years old, the sport is equally popular among those 18 to 24 years old and those 65 and older.
There are several factors behind the pickleball craze.
The sport is relatively easy to learn and is considered low-impact, making it appealing across age groups.
It also draws people for its social component — it’s become a hip hobby and networking activity in Silicon Valley — while remaining safe to play socially distanced, which can help explain its surge in popularity during the pandemic.
While the sport continues to grow in popularity, pickleball may also drive up unexpected medical costs. A UBS analyst note in June estimated the sport would be responsible this year for $250 million to $500 million in medical costs from pickleball-related injuries.