Pickleball Needs $900 Million Investment to Keep Up With Demand
The 2023 State of Pickleball: Participation & Infrastructure Report highlights the investment needed to keep up with pickleball’s meteoric rise, leveraging data never available before. This in-depth analysis of pickleball participation and facilities in the United States is a joint effort of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) and Pickleheads, an online platform for pickleball.
As cited in SFIA’s Topline Participation Report, pickleball has continued its incredible rise in America, increasing by 85.7% year-over-year and by an astonishing 158.6% 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. This highlights the unprecedented growth and increased awareness of the sport, leading to the importance of leveraging facility data in addition to more detailed participation breakdowns.
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 to 34. The 18-to-24 and 65-plus 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 Del., Fla., Ga., Md., N.C., S.C., and 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 Ariz., Calif., and Utah) had the highest number of dedicated courts per 1,000 participants (4.6), over twice the national average. The Middle Atlantic region (N.Y., N.J., and Pa.) had the lowest court coverage with one dedicated courts per 1,000 participants.
“The SFIA has been at the forefront highlighting pickleball’s rise as the fastest growing sport in America. Now, leveraging our facility data, we can see this impressive growth has created an exciting challenge for the industry – addressing the court shortage in the U.S.,” said Brandon Mackie, co-founder and COO, Pickleheads. “With over $900 million of investment needed in court infrastructure, the coming years should be very exciting for the pickleball industry.”
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% below national averages for dedicated courts per 10,000 people. With more than 70% of pickleball courts currently temporary in nature, there remains a large opportunity to build dedicated facilities, especially in America’s core metropolitan areas.