The Rise of Pickleball: Denver’s New Favorite Sport

Discover the Growing Popularity of Pickleball

Pickleball, the fast-growing sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong, has become a sensation in Denver and across America. With participation nearly doubling from 2021 to 2022, and a three-year growth total of 158.6 percent, pickleball has captured the attention of both recreational players and professional athletes. In this article, we delve into the reasons behind pickleball’s rise in popularity and explore what you need to know to enjoy this new favorite sport.

A Sport for All Ages and Skill Levels

One of the misconceptions about pickleball is that it is a toned-down version of tennis for seniors. However, the reality is that pickleball attracts players of all ages and skill levels. Professional athletes, including tennis stars like Kim Clijsters and Nick Kyrgios, as well as household names from other sports like LeBron James, Kevin Love, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady, have all invested in major league pickleball. The sport is expanding from 12 to 16 teams this year, indicating its growing prominence among elite athletes.

Affordability and Accessibility

What makes pickleball particularly appealing is its affordability and accessibility. Compared to other sports that require expensive equipment or memberships, pickleball only requires a paddle, some balls, and a place to play. The low barrier to entry makes it an accessible sport for anyone interested in giving it a try. Additionally, pickleball is easy to learn, making it a great option for beginners. While not everyone may aspire to go on the pro pickleball tour, the sport offers a fun and reasonably competitive game for players of any age.

Gearing Up: What You’ll Need

To start playing pickleball, you’ll need a few essential items. Pickleball paddles come in a range of options, from inexpensive wooden models to high-performance graphite paddles. Prices can vary, but for beginners, an entry-level paddle priced at around $64 should suffice. If you’re unsure which paddle to choose, many sports outfitters offer paddle demo programs, allowing you to try before you buy. Pickleballs also come in two types: indoor and outdoor. Indoor balls are larger and slower, while outdoor balls are smaller and faster. Lastly, investing in court shoes, specifically designed for pickleball, can provide better traction and stability, reducing the risk of injuries.

Finding Pickleball Courts in Denver

Denver offers various pickleball courts for players to enjoy. Denver Parks and Recreation operates four outdoor courts within the city’s boundaries, including locations such as Northfield Athletic Complex, Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Skyland Park, and Huston Lake Park, among others. These courts are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Denver Parks and Recreation also offers indoor courts in rec centers across the city. However, due to noise and parking complaints, the popular pickleball hot spot Congress Park has implemented a moratorium on play since April 2023. The search for more court options continues, with plans for additional courts on hold as officials balance feedback from residents and noise ordinance restrictions.

Classes, Leagues, and Pickleball Bars

For those looking to improve their skills or engage in more competitive play, Denver offers a range of options. Denver Parks and Recreation, along with various recreational centers, host pickleball classes, clinics, and leagues throughout the summer. Notably, Gates Tennis Center and Simms Street Recreation Center are popular spots for pickleball enthusiasts. Additionally, pickleball bars have emerged, combining the sport with a social atmosphere. Superior’s Eatery and Westminster’s Pickleball Food Pub are examples of venues offering indoor courts, full bars, and even leagues. Coming soon, national chain Chicken N Pickle and 3rd Shot Pickleball are set to open locations in Glendale and Wheat Ridge, respectively.

Pickleball has quickly become a sensation in Denver, appealing to a wide range of players. Its affordability, accessibility, and exciting gameplay make it an excellent option for both beginners and experienced athletes. With the sport’s growing popularity, more courts, classes, and social venues continue to emerge, further contributing to Denver’s newfound pickleball obsession. So grab a paddle and get ready to join in the dinking, smashing, and drop-shotting fun that is pickleball—the sport that is taking the Mile High City by storm.

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