The Growing Popularity of Pickleball in Denver

The Rise of Pickleball in America

Pickleball, a unique sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong, has been steadily gaining popularity across the United States. Denver, Colorado, is no exception to this trend, with pickleball participation doubling from 2021 to 2022. This surge in interest can be attributed to a variety of factors, including the sport’s outdoor nature, its low-barrier-to-entry, and its ability to provide socially distanced entertainment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before COVID-19, pickleball was already on the rise, but the pandemic served as a catalyst for its explosive popularity. The inherent distanced nature of the sport made it an ideal activity for those seeking outdoor recreation while adhering to social distancing guidelines. As a result, pickleball became more than just a recreational “beer sport.” It now boasts its own U.S. Open and has attracted investments from mainstream professional athletes, including tennis stars like Kim Clijsters and Nick Kyrgios, as well as athletes from other sports such as Lebron James, Kevin Love, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady.

The Affordability and Accessibility of Pickleball

One of the key factors contributing to pickleball’s popularity is its affordability and accessibility. Unlike many other sports that require expensive equipment, pickleball only requires a paddle, some pickleballs, and a place to play. Paddles range in price, from inexpensive wooden options to high-quality graphite models. Game-set-match, a local racquet and paddle sports outfitter, offers a demo program where players can try out different paddles before making a purchase. This affordability and ease of learning make pickleball accessible to people of all ages and skill levels.

Gear and Court Options in Denver

To play pickleball, players need a paddle, pickleballs, and court shoes. Paddles come in various designs and materials, with prices ranging from $64 for an entry-level paddle to $250 for advanced players. Pickleballs also differ for indoor and outdoor play, with indoor balls being larger and slower and outdoor balls being smaller and faster.

When it comes to court options, Denver offers several outdoor pickleball courts located within the city’s boundaries. These courts are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Denver Parks and Recreation also has indoor courts in recreation centers across town. However, recent noise and parking complaints have led to a temporary moratorium on play at the popular pickleball spot, Congress Park. Plans for more courts at Sloan’s Lake Park and Rosamond Park are currently on hold, as officials work to balance feedback from area residents with the growing demand for pickleball.

For those looking to take their pickleball skills to the next level, Denver offers various pickleball classes, clinics, and leagues. Denver Parks and Recreation, as well as other facilities like Gates Tennis Center and Apex’s Simms Street Recreation Center, host clinics and learning opportunities for players of all skill levels. Competitive players can also participate in leagues and tournaments to showcase their skills.

The Future of Pickleball in Denver

As the popularity of pickleball continues to grow, the sport is branching out into new avenues. Pickleball bars, such as Eatery in Superior and Pickleball Food Pub in Westminster, offer indoor courts and a social atmosphere where players can enjoy food and drinks. National chains like Chicken N Pickle are also entering the Denver market, providing more options for pickleball enthusiasts.

In conclusion, pickleball has become a beloved sport in Denver, attracting players of all ages and skill levels. Its accessibility, affordability, and unique combination of different sports have contributed to its rapid growth. Whether you’re a beginner wanting to try something new or a seasoned athlete looking for a competitive outlet, pickleball offers an exciting and inclusive experience for all. So grab your paddle, find a court, and join the pickleball craze in Denver!

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