The Rise of Pickleball in Colorado: A Growing Sport for All Ages

Pickleball: More than Just a Recreational Beer Sport

Pickleball, a badminton, tennis, and ping-pong hybrid, has taken the United States by storm, and Colorado is no exception. The popularity of this fast-paced game has surged in recent years, with participation nearly doubling from 2021 to 2022. While pickleball was already on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic, its inherently distanced outdoor nature made it the perfect activity during the lockdowns. As other sports took a backseat, pickleball enthusiasts emerged, transforming this game into a serious and competitive sport.

Breaking Stereotypes and Attracting Professional Athletes

Gone are the stereotypes that pickleball is a toned-down version of tennis for seniors. Mainstream professional athletes like Lebron James, Kevin Love, and Tom Brady have invested in major league pickleball, which is expanding and gaining more recognition. Even tennis stars such as Kim Clijsters and Nick Kyrgios have been seen embracing the sport. With the growth of major league pickleball, the game is catching the attention of athletes from various disciplines, attracting a younger and more diverse player base.

Affordable and Accessible for All

One of the appealing aspects of pickleball is its affordability and accessibility. Unlike other sports that require expensive equipment or memberships, pickleball only requires a paddle, some balls, and a place to play. The relatively low-cost entry makes it an attractive option for people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether you’re a casual player looking for some fun or a competitive player looking for a reasonably competitive game, pickleball offers enjoyment for everyone.

Equipping Yourself for the Game

To get started with pickleball, you’ll need a few essential items. Pickleball paddles come in various materials and price ranges. From inexpensive wooden paddles to advanced graphite models, there’s an option for every player. Game-set-match, a local racquet and paddle sports outfitter, offers a range of paddles for all skill levels. They even have a demo program that allows players to try out different paddles before making a purchase.

Choosing the right pickleballs is also crucial. Indoor and outdoor pickleballs have slight differences in size and weight to accommodate different playing conditions. Game-set-match offers a variety of pickleballs for players to choose from, with a price-matching guarantee to support local businesses.

Court shoes are essential for stability and preventing injuries while playing pickleball. While there aren’t specific pickleball shoes, any court shoe with lateral stability and a non-marking rubber sole will work. Brands like Mizuno, Asics, and Babolat offer court shoes recommended by experts in the sport.

Finding Places to Play Pickleball

Denver and its surrounding areas offer various options for pickleball enthusiasts. Denver Parks and Recreation provides free outdoor pickleball courts at locations such as the Northfield Athletic Complex, Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Skyland Park, and more. These courts operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

For those willing to pay, Cherry Creek’s Gates Tennis Center and Arvada’s Simms Street Recreation Center have dedicated pickleball courts available for rent. Cherry Creek’s Gates Tennis Center offers ten pickleball courts for hourly rental, while Simms Street Recreation Center has 24 outdoor courts and offers free play during specific times.

In Littleton, Cornerstone Park features six pickleball courts equipped with lighting for evening play. Players can reserve these courts online at varying prices depending on residency and time.

Pickleball classes and leagues are also available for those looking to improve their skills and engage in more competitive play. Denver Parks and Recreation, Gates Tennis Center, Apex’s Simms Street Recreation Center, and South Suburban Parks and Recreation all offer learning opportunities and clinics for players of all levels.

New Pickleball Venues on the Horizon

The growing popularity of pickleball has led to the emergence of pickleball bars and dedicated venues. Pickleball Food Pub, located in Westminster, offers eight indoor courts along with a full bar and leagues. Superior’s Eatery also tested the concept in 2021, opening four outdoor courts for patrons. More nationwide chains are jumping on the pickleball trend, with Chicken N Pickle planning to open a location in Glendale in July and targeting a Thornton outpost in 2024.

Looking ahead, 3rd Shot Pickleball plans to debut 13 indoor courts and a bar in Wheat Ridge, and the creator of Punch Bowl Social has announced plans to open Camp Pickle locations in Centennial in 2024 and Globeville in 2025. These new venues will offer even more opportunities for pickleball enthusiasts to enjoy the game and connect with other players.

In conclusion, pickleball has evolved from a recreational beer sport to a serious and competitive game attracting players of all ages and backgrounds. Its affordability, accessibility, and growing presence in Colorado make it an exciting activity for both casual players and those seeking a more competitive edge. Whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned player, pickleball offers something for everyone in the beautiful state of Colorado.

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