The Rise of Pickleball: A Sport for All

The Fastest-Growing Sport in America

Pickleball, the badminton/tennis/ping-pong hybrid invented in 1965, has seen a tremendous surge in popularity in recent years. According to the local newsletter, pickleball participation nearly doubled from 2021 to 2022, bringing the three-year growth total to 158.6 percent. It has become the fastest-growing sport in America, and Denver is no exception to this trend.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, pickleball was already on the rise. But as an outdoor, inherently distanced, low-barrier-to-entry sport, its popularity exploded during the pandemic. The sport attracted both recreational players and professional athletes, with big names such as Lebron James, Kevin Love, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady investing in major league pickleball.

A Sport for Everyone

One stereotype about pickleball that has gone by the wayside is that it’s a toned-down version of tennis for seniors. In reality, pickleball has captured the attention of people of all ages and skill levels. It offers an affordable and accessible way to have fun and engage in a reasonably competitive game.

To get started with pickleball, all you need is a paddle, some balls, and somewhere to play. Paddles range in price and quality, from inexpensive wooden paddles to high-performance graphite models. It’s recommended to try out different paddles to find one that suits your playing style. Game-Set-Match, a local racquet and paddle sports outfitter, offers a demo program where you can try out paddles before making a purchase.

Similarly, there are different types of pickleballs for indoor and outdoor play. Indoor pickleballs are larger to help slow them down, while outdoor pickleballs are smaller and move faster against the wind. It’s essential to have the right equipment to ensure an enjoyable game.

Courts and Community

Finding a place to play pickleball in Denver is relatively easy. The city’s parks and recreation department offers outdoor courts at various locations, including the Northfield Athletic Complex, Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Skyland Park, and more. These courts are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, there are indoor courts in recreation centers across town.

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, and South Suburban Parks and Recreation all host clinics and workshops for players at different levels. Tournaments and leagues provide opportunities for players to test their abilities and connect with other pickleball enthusiasts.

Moreover, the emergence of pickleball bars adds a unique social element to the sport. Eatery in Superior and Pickleball Food Pub in Westminster offer indoor courts, full bars, and even lessons for beginners. These venues provide a fun and social atmosphere for pickleball lovers to enjoy the sport.

The Future of Pickleball

As pickleball continues to grow in popularity, more opportunities to play and compete will arise. National chain Chicken N Pickle is set to open a new location in Glendale, and 3rd Shot Pickleball plans to debut an indoor facility in Wheat Ridge. Additionally, Punch Bowl Social has announced plans to open Camp Pickle locations in Centennial and Globeville in the coming years.

In conclusion, pickleball is not just a passing trend; it is a sport that has captured the hearts of people across the nation, including Denver. Its accessibility, affordability, and fun factor make it appealing to players of all ages and skill levels. With various opportunities to play, learn, and compete, pickleball is on track to become a staple in the local sports scene. So grab a paddle, find a court, and join the pickleball craze!

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