Report Details Pickleball's Unexpected Demographics, Municipal Court Shortages

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The Sports & Fitness Industry Association and Pickleheads this week released the 2023 State of Pickleball: Participation & Infrastructure Report, which provides insights into pickleball's meteoric rise. 

As cited in SFIA's 2023 Topline Participation Report, pickleball has continued its incredible rise in America, increasing by 85.7 percent year-over-year and by an astonishing 158.6 percent over three years. With 8.9 million participants in 2022, the number of new participants in pickleball exceeded the total number of pickleball participants in 2021. 

“We are excited to collaborate with Pickleheads to create this first-of-its-kind report – leveraging an even more detailed and expansive overview of the fastest growing sport in America,” states Tom Cove, President & CEO, SFIA. “This partnership and new research product will help inform the conversation around pickleball and enable the industry and community to address the opportunities and challenges.”

Counter to some preconceived perceptions of the sport, the average age of a pickleball participant is 35, while the age group with the most participants is 25-34. The 18- 24 and 65+ age groups were tied for the second highest most participated age group.

Pickleball participation grew in every region in the United States in 2022 with the South Atlantic region (including DE, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA) leading the way with 1.9 million pickleball players. The Pacific (1.5 million) and East North Central (1.4 million) regions were the second and third most participated regions. The Mountain region (including AZ, CA, UT) had the highest number of dedicated courts per 1,000 participants (4.6), at over twice the national average. The Middle Atlantic region (NY, NJ, PA) had the lowest court coverage with 1.0 dedicated courts per 1,000 participants.

Many of America’s largest metropolitan cities are far behind in satisfying pickleball demand for court infrastructure, with New York and Los Angeles both 98 percent below national averages for dedicated courts per 10,000 people. With over 70 percent of pickleball courts currently temporary in nature, there remains a large opportunity to build dedicated facilities, especially in America’s core metropolitan areas.

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