BY CONNOR STEPHENS
Established in 1965 in the U.S State of Washington, Pickleball is a sport on the rise, having been named the fastest growing Sport in the United States for the past 3 years running. It is estimated that nearly 5 million U.S residents currently play the sport in some form, and the rise of this unique Sport isn't just limited to the 1 Nation.
At the beginning of this year, the Pickleball Australia Association reported that Pickleball is growing 20 percent per year in Australia, so what exactly is this sport? And why is it growing so rapidly?
Pickleball is a racket sport that resembles pieces of Tennis, Ping Pong, and Badminton. Played in either singles or doubles, players hit a plastic ball with paddles over an 86 cm net until one side is unable to return it back over.
While it shares many similarities with the sports highlighted above, the paddle in Pickleball is larger than what is used in table tennis, and the hard plastic ball used in pickleball produces less bounce than tennis balls. On each side of the net is a 7-foot area, known as the “non-volley zone”, where the ball must bounce before it is hit.
A massive attribute Pickleball holds is that it is a sport for all ages, meaning that when it comes to the elderly, Lawn Bowls now has competition. It is an easy sport to learn, and an easy way to be both active and social at the same time.
The United States have orchestrated both the U.S National Championships and a U.S Open Tournament for Pickleball, and high profile sports people such as Nick Kyrgios, Naomi Osaka and Tom Brady have invested in Pickleball leagues.
After witnessing the success of these Championships in America, Tennis Australia are planning to offer the sport to clubs around the nation, so don't be surprised if we continue to see this sport rise.
An estimated 12,000 people currently play Pickleball around Australia, with the Victorian State Association being formed in September 2020, and has already grown to over 400 members. Gold Coast is the most popular city for Pickleball, with over 2000 of its residents partaking in the sport.
The Australian Pickleball Championships have recently been played at the Blacktown Leisure Centre in Sydney, being held from September 29 to October 2, where a total of 689 players registered for the tournament, a massive increase from the 433 that participated last year!
Pickleball is on the rise in Australia, and don't be surprised if it hits your televisions some time soon!