A total of 14% of U.S. adults, equal to 36.5 million people, played pickleball at least once from August of 2021 to August of last year. That number was highlighted in the Association of Pickleball Professionals 2023 Pickleball Participation Report, a report that lent credence to the oft-made claim that pickleball is the United States’ fastest-growing sport.
The sport — which combines tennis and racquetball — is booming in the Midwest, too, with several companies opening indoor pickleball centers that feature food, drinks and pickleball courts, including Smash Park, which is planning new pickleball centers in Omaha and the Minneapolis area after having already seen success in Des Moines, Iowa.
In Michigan, you can even play the sport atop the Amway Grand Plaza hotel in downtown Grand Rapids. The hotel is one of six Hilton hotels across the country that have added pickleball courts as a way to help attract guests.
What’s behind the pickleball craze? It’s easier to play than tennis. It’s a simple game to learn. And it’s fun. It’s also a bit like bowling in that you can play it and then take a break with some pizza, burgers or beer. Just ask the people behind Smash Park, Chicken N Pickle and other pickleball entertainment centers.