Pickleball — a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong — surged in popularity over the past two years. But the sport's rapid rise is much more than a pandemic-fueled fad. For the last several years, the sport of pickleball has been dubbed the “fastest-growing sport in America.” According to the 2019 Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) Participant Report, there are currently approximately 3.3 million players in the United States.
State of play: Pickleball participation grew by 21.3% between 2019 and 2020, prompting the Economist to declare it "the fastest growing sport in America." 4.2 million Americans now play at least once a year.
What they're saying: "Pickleball is the only sport where my whole family — from my kids to my parents — can play together and have an absolute blast," says Dave Fleming, 54, a senior pickleball pro.
How to play: Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island (near Seattle) by three dads, including future Rep. Joel Pritchard. The three dads in Washington state faced a dilemma familiar to beleaguered parents in 2021: how to keep their restless children entertained. They threw together wooden paddles, a badminton net, and a perforated plastic ball. The sport “pickleball” was born, deriving its name—according to one legend—from a dog named Pickle, which kept running away with the ball.
NBC Nightly News: Find out why the Pickleball craze is sweeping the nation. Originally aired March 18, 2014 on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Story by NBC News Correspondent Mark Potter.
Ever wonder how this amazing game that you love so much got started? Watch the video.