The Rise of Pickleball: A Fast-Growing Sport in Colorado

An Emerging Trend in Colorado

The sport of pickleball has been rapidly gaining popularity across America, and Colorado is no exception. This unique game, described as a combination of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong, has seen a significant increase in participation, with numbers nearly doubling from 2021 to 2022. According to the local newsletter, it is now considered the fastest-growing sport in the country.

Pickleball’s surge in popularity was not solely due to the pandemic, but COVID-19 certainly played a role in its growth. Being an outdoor, socially distanced sport with low barriers to entry, pickleball became a go-to activity for many during a time when other sports were restricted. The Denver-based racquet and paddle sports outfitter, Game-Set-Match, experienced a surge in interest, with half of their customers stating that they played pickleball. This rise in popularity has led to a shift in perception, with the sport now being taken more seriously and even attracting mainstream professional athletes.

Breaking Stereotypes

One misconception about pickleball is that it is a toned-down version of tennis for seniors who can no longer keep up with traditional racquet sports. However, this image is quickly fading. Pickleball has gained recognition from professional athletes, including tennis stars like Kim Clijsters and household names such as LeBron James, Kevin Love, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady. Major League Pickleball is expanding its teams, further solidifying its position as a competitive sport.

One of the appealing aspects of pickleball is its affordability and ease of learning. Unlike other sports that require extensive equipment, all you need to start playing pickleball is a paddle, some balls, and a place to play. It is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of any age and skill level. While not everyone may make it to the professional pickleball tour, they can still have fun and engage in a reasonably competitive game.

Essential Equipment and Where to Play

To start playing pickleball, you will need a pickleball paddle. There is a wide range of options available, from inexpensive wooden paddles to high-quality graphite models. Local stores, such as Game-Set-Match, offer demo programs where you can try out different paddles before making a purchase. This allows players to experience the differences in weight, power, and accuracy before committing to a specific paddle.

Another important consideration is the choice of pickleballs. Indoor and outdoor pickleballs differ in size, with indoor balls being larger and slower, while outdoor balls are smaller and faster. Various sporting goods stores offer a variety of pickleball options, supporting the local business community.

Denver provides numerous opportunities for players to enjoy pickleball. Denver Parks and Recreation manage several outdoor courts spread across different locations in the city. These courts are available on a first-come, first-served basis, free of charge. Additionally, private facilities like Cherry Creek’s Gates Tennis Center, Arvada’s Simms Street Recreation Center, and Littleton’s Cornerstone Park offer dedicated pickleball courts that can be reserved for a fee.

For those looking to improve their skills or engage in more competitive play, Denver Parks and Recreation offers pickleball classes and clinics. These programs cater to players of all skill levels, providing a supportive environment for learning and growth. Leagues, competitions, and tournaments are also available for those seeking a more competitive experience.

Expanding Opportunities

Pickleball is not just limited to traditional sports facilities, as the concept of “pickleball bars” is emerging. Pickleball Food Pub in Westminster, with its indoor courts and full bar, provides a unique experience for pickleball enthusiasts. It offers leagues, lessons, and events for both beginners and experienced players. The upcoming opening of national chain Chicken N Pickle in Glendale signifies the growing demand for this sport. Other establishments, such as 3rd Shot Pickleball and Camp Pickle, have plans to open their own locations in the near future.

In conclusion, pickleball has quickly become a favorite sport in Colorado, attracting people of all ages and skill levels. Its rise in popularity can be attributed to its appeal as an affordable, easy-to-learn, and socially distanced activity. With the continued expansion of facilities and opportunities for play, pickleball is sure to establish a lasting presence in the Colorado sports scene.

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