The Craze Continues: APP Reveals 36.5M American Adults Played Pickleball in 2022
Pickleball has swept the nation across all populations and is expected to continue – and fitness operators are taking note
The Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) has released its 2023 APP Pickleball Participation Report, which YouGov conducted on its behalf. According to the report, pickleball, which appears to be everywhere these days, is one of America’s fastest-growing sports.
In fact, pickleball grew significantly more than previously thought in the months between August 2021 and August 2022, with 36.5 million people (14% of adult Americans) participating in the sport at least once during the 12 months.
The APP Pickleball Participation Report also says 8.5 million people played pickleball eight times or more in 2022.
The pickleball trend is expected to continue, with 45% of the 36.5 million pickleball players saying they plan to play more frequently in the next six months than in the previous six months.
YouGov, an international market research and data analytics firm, compiled the pickleball report by polling approximately 2,500 adults in the United States aged 18 and up.
Tom Webb, Chief Marketing Officer of the APP, said that the report’s results show that pickleball is growing much faster than anyone thought and that it affirms pickleball has earned its spot as one of America’s favorite sports.
“In 2020, a pandemic year, previous reports stated that over four million people picked up a paddle to play pickleball, with that number reportedly growing to over five million in 2021. Those numbers appear to have been conservative, but what the APP’s report shows is that the popularity of pickleball has exploded,” Webb said. “Pickleball courts continue to be built and installed nationwide, and people from coast to coast are trying the sport for the first time, and immediately falling in love with pickleball.”
He added that pickleball offers a spectrum of offerings that span professional and elite athletes to amateur players to recreational players who gain considerable enjoyment from the sport due to its ease of learning and low cost of entry.
“I fell in love with pickleball the very first time I played, and now I have the honor of being able to compete across America, and internationally, in a sport that is so quickly becoming part of our culture,” shared Megan Fudge DeHeart, a professional pickleball player.
“As the sport grows, so does the recognition of what it takes to be a pro, and that’s hugely rewarding. The number of fans at our events increases with almost every competition, and now we know just how big the sport is, that will only continue to increase. I’m excited for the future of our sport – for the players today, for those who will continue to flock to pickleball, and for my children who also love the sport, and have a lifetime of playing pickleball ahead of them.”
The APP was founded in 2019 and officially sanctioned by USA Pickleball. The 2023 APP Tour schedule includes 16 tournament stops, including International and Collegiate Series events.
Fitness clubs, such as Life Time Fitness, have also jumped on the pickleball bandwagon. The company currently operates over 350 permanent pickleball courts and plans to add an additional 600 by the end of 2023. Life Time also offers pickleball lessons, leagues, and tournaments.
“If you had told me a year ago that I would be spending so much time playing, thinking about, and talking about this sport, I would have cheerfully challenged you. But now I’m obsessed,” Life Time founder, chairman, and CEO Bahram Akradi said in an interview last fall. “With the existing footprint of our athletic country clubs and incredible coaches and pros, we saw the opportunity to lead this sport and we took it. We will be not just the biggest provider of pickleball but also the best.”
YouFit Gyms also added the racket-based sport, announcing last fall that it would launch 28 indoor courts at various gyms and recently partnered with Break the Love so members can easily book time on the court.
Additionally, LA Galaxy is opening a public recreational park this month that hosts pickleball and other activities to create opportunities for youth and adults to engage in an active lifestyle.
Courtney Rehfeldt has worked in the broadcasting media industry since 2007 and has freelanced since 2012. Her work has been featured in Age of Awareness, Times Beacon Record, The New York Times, and she has an upcoming piece in Slate. She studied yoga & meditation under Beryl Bender Birch at The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute. She enjoys hiking, being outdoors, and is an avid reader. Courtney has a BA in Media & Communications studies.