Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America, but it’s not new. The paddle sport was created in 1965 and combines three sports: badminton, tennis, and ping pong.
Pickleball has an estimated 3.1 million players in America, a significant jump from 2.4 million in 2014. They expect the numbers to keep climbing every year.
So why is it so popular now?
The sport is described as being light, fun, and addictive, making it perfect for people of all ages, sizes, and skill levels to pick up a ball and paddle and play. There are also strategic rules set in place to keep the sport competitive, but still fair and light for everyone playing.
Pickleball has hundreds of courts around the United states and is even being integrated into prisons and schools, as well as having national competitions.
The YMCA in Manlius has about 60 pickleballers and some pick up paddles every Monday and Wednesday night to serve up some fun. But a large part of why people keep coming in or coming back is the social aspect.
United States of America Pickleball Ambassador Sean Leonard said that: “It’s kind of like dancing, the songs you really wanna dance to. You find that at the end of the night, I sort of broke a sweat and I wasn’t even thinking about it.”
He not only has a lot of fun playing with his larger than life sound effects, but he’s using the sport to connect people and create comradely on a larger scale.
“To me, Pickleball can change lives, you know, so what I’m doing here is sort of trying to create the container where that can happen,” said Leonard.
Leonard wants to keep the side conversations, laughter, connections and story sharing going even if it’s off the court.