Pickleball is fast becoming America’s new favorite sport. Twenty years ago, there were fewer than forty places to play pickleball in the U.S. and Canada. Today, there are 10,724 known pickleball locations in North America, with over 44,000 courts.
NC Sharp, your source for the latest North Carolina sports betting news and information, used Google search trends and investigated profiles on social media platforms, podcast reviews, and YouTube channels for people who talk about pikcleball to find out what states have pickleball fever.
The top pickleball states
Pickleball is growing like crazy, but there is more growth in some states than others. Based on online search growth year-over-year, the states with the fastest growth are:
- Mississippi, with an 86% increase.
- New York, New Jersey, Nevada, and Ohio—These four states are tied for the second-fastest growth. Each of these states saw an 83% increase in online searches.
Florida is the dominant state in the pickleball world. Search on the internet is not growing as quickly as in many states because pickleball is already well established in the Sunshine State. Florida boasts the most courts per capita, hosts prominent tournaments like the U.S. Open, and enjoys a strong presence in retirement communities that adore the sport.
States with the most internet searches, based on Google search trends, are:
- South Carolina
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
On the other side of the Google search trends for pickleball, the states least number of pickleball searches:
- South Dakota
- New York
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
- North Dakota
What is pickleball
Pickleball is similar to tennis. Players use a paddle to hit a perforated, hollow, plastic ball over a net. Pickleball courts are indoors or outdoors, and the game can be played singles or doubles.
The game’s popularity has much to do with how easy it is to learn and play. It’s faster to learn than tennis and the pace is much slower. It’s also relatively inexpensive to get started. A set of four pickleball paddles and balls starts at $15.99, and many municipalities now have public courts.
The growth of pickleball
Pickleball was started in 1965 by Congressman Joel Pritchard to give his family something to do one Saturday afternoon. About ten years later, the National Observer and Tennis magazine had each published an article about pickleball titled “America’s newest racquet sport.”
The United States Amateur Pickleball Association (U.S.A.P.A.) was formed in 1984, and the first rulebook was published. By 1990, pickleball had informally infiltrated all 50 U.S. states. But the game was still poorly organized, with only about 150 purpose-built courts in North America.
In the 2000s, the game took off. Today, 4.8 million “picklers,” as players are known, play the game in the United States alone. Additionally, about 130 new locations are opening each month.
How to get started playing pickleball
You don’t need much to start playing pickleball. All you need is:
The pickleball paddle
The paddle is the primary piece of equipment. It can be made up of a variety of materials. Paddles typically have either plastic cores or aluminum cores and are covered with fiberglass or graphite. You can also find wooden paddles. Prices range from under $20 to over $200.
The pickleball ball
Pickleball balls are lightweight, 9-inch plastic balls with a smooth surface. Pickleball balls come in two types—indoor and outdoor. Indoor balls have 26 widely spaced holes, while outdoor balls have 40 closely spaced holes
A pickleball court
It’s fairly easy to find a court these days; more are being built daily. If your local park or recreation center does not have a court, you can find one near you on the USAPA website and search for locations.
The basics of playing pickleball
Since pickleball is a racquet (paddle) sport, anyone who has played tennis, ping pong, badminton, or paddle ball will understand pickleball quickly. If you have not played a racquet sport in the past, you’ll have no problem learning how to play pickleball.
One of the reasons pickleball is so popular is that it’s easy to learn, and you can play well almost immediately. Because the sport is so new, almost everyone playing is relatively new to the game.
Pickleball is played as either singles or doubles (two players per team). Doubles are the most common.
The court is rectangular and defined by the back or baselines and sidelines. It is divided by a low net, and each side is divided into 3 sections:
- Right serving area.
- Left serving area.
- Non-volley zone, nearest the net.
Starting the game
The game starts with a serve, which must be done underhand. The serve takes place outside the base behind on either the right or left service sides. The serve is made diagonally crosscourt and must land in the opposite diagonal court. You only get one chance to make the serve.
The double bounce rule
The ball must bounce once on the receiver’s side and once on the server’s side. After the two bounces, the ball can be volleyed (hit before it bounces) or allowed to bounce once.
The non-volley area nearest the net is also called the kitchen. Players may not hit the ball while standing in the kitchen unless the ball has bounced on their side.
Players hit the ball back and forth over the net. Play ends, and a point is won or lost when the ball is hit in the net, outside the court, or bounces twice.
Where picklers hang out
Pickleball really is America’s new favorite sport. It’s easy and fun to learn and play, and courts are springing up everywhere. If you are interested in pickleball, below is a list of sites to get started:
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