The Rise of Pickleball: Colorado’s Hottest New Sport

An Introduction to Pickleball

Colorado locals are flocking to the latest sports sensation: pickleball. What was once seen as a recreational activity has now exploded in popularity, with participation rates nearly doubling between 2021 and 2022. This unique sport combines elements of badminton, tennis, and ping pong, played on a miniature tennis court with whiffle balls and beach paddles. Pickleball has captured the attention of mainstream professional athletes and has become more than just a pastime for seniors. It’s a rapidly growing sport that is gaining recognition and respect across the country.

Pickleball’s Popularity Surge

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, pickleball was on the rise. Rachel Heise, the general manager of Game-Set-Match, a local racquet and paddle sports outfitter, explains that pickleball’s outdoor, distanced nature made it an ideal sport during the pandemic. The survey conducted by Game-Set-Match revealed that half of the respondents played pickleball, with 58.5 percent intending to play it in the coming year. Pickleball has evolved from being labeled as a “beer sport” to a serious competitive endeavor, with its own U.S Open and increasing attention from professional athletes such as Lebron James, Kevin Love, and Tom Brady.

Easy and Affordable Access to Pickleball

One of the appeals of pickleball is its accessibility and affordability. To get started, all you need is a paddle, some balls, and a place to play. Game-Set-Match offers entry-level paddles for as low as $64, and their demo program allows players to try out different paddles before making a purchase. Pickleballs for either indoor or outdoor play are readily available, and court shoes are recommended to prevent injuries. Special pickleball-specific shoes are not required, but shoes with good lateral stability and durable rubber soles are recommended.

Where to Play Pickleball in Colorado

Colorado offers various outdoor pickleball court locations, including the Northfield Athletic Complex, Martin Luther King Jr Park, Skyland Park, Huston Lake Park, Bear Valley Park, and Eisenhower Park. These locations provide free, first-come, first-served access to the sport. Additionally, there are indoor pickleball courts available in recreational centers across Denver. However, due to noise and parking complaints, there was a temporary moratorium on play at Congress Park. Plans for more pickleball courts are in place, with ongoing discussions to balance the demand from players and the concerns of area residents.

Further Learning Opportunities and Pickleball Bars

For those interested in learning pickleball skills or participating in leagues, there are several options available. Denver Parks and Recreation, Gates Tennis Center, Apex’s Simms Street Recreation Center, and South Suburban Parks and Recreation all offer pickleball classes and clinics. The Gates Tennis Center also hosts a co-ed pickleball doubles league, catering to players of different skill levels. Additionally, pickleball bars such as Pickleball Food Pub in Westminster provide a unique social atmosphere for players to gather, play, and enjoy refreshments.

The Future of Pickleball in Colorado

The rise of pickleball shows no signs of slowing down in Colorado. National chain Chicken N Pickle plans to open a location in Glendale, with more expansions expected in the future. 3rd Shot Pickleball intends to debut a new facility in Wheat Ridge, while the creator of Punch Bowl Social has announced plans to open Camp Pickle locations in Centennial and Globeville. These establishments will enhance the pickleball experience and offer even more opportunities for players to enjoy this exciting sport.

Join the Pickleball Craze

Pickleball is not just a passing fad; it has become a legitimate and thrilling sport for people of all ages and skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a beginner looking for a fun and competitive activity, pickleball offers an inclusive community and exciting gameplay. With easy access to equipment, numerous court locations, and learning opportunities, there has never been a better time to join the pickleball craze in Colorado.

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