Pickleball: how to pioneer with the new padel
Another racket sport? Yes, sir. And not just any sport. Pickleball, a mix of tennis, ping-pong and badminton, has become the USA’s fastest-growing sport of 2022. Other countries are quickly following suit, from Australia to Belgium and even padel-loving Spain. Indeed, pickleball is taking over the world, one country at a time. What is pickleball? Why is it that popular? And how do club owners capitalize on the hype with sports turf that boosts players’ performance?
What is pickleball?
Mid-sixties, last century. Three middle-aged men from Washington (USA) invent a new game for their children to play on a family vacation. During that summer, through trial and error, they modify the rules and finetune the equipment. Afterwards, the game is quickly picked up in the broader community and by 1900 pickleball is actively played in all 50 states. A new sport was born.
Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court, with a slightly adapted tennis net. Players only need a perforated ball and lightweight paddles – which look like over-sized ping-pong paddles – to get a game going. And the rules? Well, they’re very straightforward, making pickleball a great introductory sport.
The first rule of pickleball is “don’t talk about pickleball”. No, not really. But now that we’ve got your attention, these are the basic rules:
- Pickleball is usually played in doubles, 2 a side.
- You only score points on your own serve.
- The ball must bounce once per side.
- The first team to get to 11 points wins.
Why is pickleball so popular?
We all understand why padel made such a breakthrough in recent years. The glass cage principle and explicit doubles format added something new for most racket lovers. With pickleball, the unique features are less visible at first sight. But make no mistake, the sport has some major benefits for both players and clubs.
4 main benefits for pickleball players
#1 For all skill levels – You don’t have to be a physical or technical hero. Pickleball is more about agility, which explains why the sport attracts a wide variety of players.
#2 For all ages – Small court, light paddle, soft ball, less intensive. No wonder pickleball is a big hit among seniors, who see it as a great way to stay in shape. Also children can easily play.
#3 A social event – Similar to padel, the doubles format encourages social connectivity. The smaller court size allows players to share laughter and interact without having to shout.
#4 It’s affordable – The game is not restricted to those who can afford pricey equipment. A paddle, a ball and shoes is all you need, while expensive private lessons won’t be necessary.
4 main benefits for clubs
#1 Reasonable investment – For the price of one padel court, you can install various pickleball courts. Moreover, the latter are smaller, allowing you to optimize space at your club.
#2 New revenue streams – With pickleball, you’ll give added value to your loyal members and attract a whole new segment, from seniors to families and children.
#3 An emerging sport – In most countries, pickleball is still in its early stages and courts are scarce. Jumping on the bandwagon now can make your club stand out from the crowd.
#4 Community building – You’ll have a unique offering for the people living near your club, while you won’t have any complaints about noise (which is sometimes a problem with padel).
How to become a go-to pickleball club with sports turf?
If you get serious about installing pickleball courts, you’ll have to decide on the surface sooner or later. And that’s where you can make a true difference. Isn’t there just one recommended surface? Not really. Clubs sometimes repurpose their existing tennis court, others go for new clay, concrete, asphalt, polyurethane or artificial grass surfaces. Anything goes.
That said, many pickleball players and clubs have a clear preference: sports turf. Here’s why:
√ Players’ performance – Quite simply, players perform better on sports turf. The softer surface offers more friction, slowing the ball down and leading to a better playing experience.
You won’t deal with unpredictable ball movements or high bounces.
√ Players’ health – With that many seniors playing pickleball, you want to offer them the most comfortable experience possible. As a soft surface, sports turf cushions potential falls and is gentle on the joints.
√ Customizable – Sports turf for pickleball exists in many different colors. Looking to add your logo on or near the court, most suppliers will make sure your surface is a 100% on brand.
√ Low maintenance – You’ll be able to host several subsequent games with minimal pauses in between. Indoor or outdoor, sports turf only needs your attention for a few minutes a day.
√ Easy installation – That is, if you get your sports turf from a renowned dealer with an own installer network, such as Turfgrass. The result: a pristine, high-performing pickleball court.
Are you starting to get the hang of it? Great, you’ve just been pickled.