The Rise of Pickleball: A Sport for Everyone

A Growing Phenomenon in America

Pickleball, the fast-growing sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong, has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. According to the local newsletter, pickleball participation in America nearly doubled from 2021 to 2022, with Denver being no exception to this trend. What was once considered a recreational and casual beer sport has now evolved into a serious competition with professional athletes investing in the sport.

Breaking Stereotypes

One stereotype that has been shattered is the notion that pickleball is a toned-down version of tennis for seniors. Pickleball has gained popularity among mainstream professional athletes such as tennis stars Kim Clijsters and Nick Kyrgios, as well as household names from other sports like LeBron James, Kevin Love, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady. With major league pickleball expanding and the number of teams increasing, it is clear that pickleball is not just a sport for retirees but a competitive game enjoyed by athletes of all ages and backgrounds.

An Affordable and Accessible Sport

One of the main reasons for pickleball’s popularity is its affordability and accessibility. Rachel Heise, the general manager of Game-Set-Match, a local racquet and paddle sports outfitter, states that anyone can pick up pickleball as it only requires a paddle, balls, and a place to play. The sport’s low barriers to entry make it easy to learn and enjoy, regardless of age or skill level. Heise suggests visiting USA Pickleball’s website to review the rules and get started. While not everyone may aspire to go on the pro pickleball tour, anyone can have fun and engage in a reasonably competitive game.

Gear and Where to Play

To get started with pickleball, you will need a paddle, pickleballs, and appropriate court shoes. Paddles range from inexpensive wooden options to high-performance graphite models. Game-Set-Match offers a demo program where players can try out different paddles before making a purchase. Pickleballs come in indoor and outdoor variations, with outdoor balls designed to move faster against wind resistance. As for court shoes, any shoe with lateral stability and a non-marking rubber sole will suffice.

When it comes to playing pickleball, Denver offers various options. Denver Parks and Recreation provides outdoor pickleball courts at multiple locations across the city, which are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Private facilities like Cherry Creek’s Gates Tennis Center, Arvada’s Simms Street Recreation Center, and Littleton’s Cornerstone Park also offer pickleball courts for rent or reservation.

For those looking to improve their skills or join leagues, Denver Parks and Recreation and various recreational centers host pickleball classes, workshops, and clinics. Gates Tennis Center and Simms Street Recreation Center also organize leagues and tournaments for more competitive play.

In addition to traditional sports facilities, pickleball bars have emerged as social venues for pickleball enthusiasts. Superior’s Pickleball Food Pub and the upcoming Chicken N Pickle in Glendale are examples of establishments where players can enjoy the sport while also indulging in food and drinks.

Pickleball’s growing popularity has led to the expansion of the sport, both in terms of facilities and opportunities for play. As more people discover the fun and competitive nature of pickleball, it is likely to continue its upward trajectory in popularity. Whether you are a seasoned athlete or someone looking for a new recreational activity, pickleball offers a unique and accessible experience for everyone.

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