Pickleball has been named the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. for the third year in a row.
According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association report, pickleball participation almost doubled in 2022, increasing by 85.7% year-over-year and by a 158.6% over three years.
With a report of more than 36.5 million people playing pickleball at least once from August 2021 to August 2022 by the Association of Pickleball Professionals, the sport could be a great way to get new members through your facility doors.
There are some clubs that are already going all-in on the sport.
Frank Lawrence, the CEO of Little Rock Athletic Clubs, said what got them through COVID-19 were their paddle and racquet sports. Because of that, his focus in 2023 is all around pickleball. Lawrence shared on a recent Thought Leaders panel that Little Rock Athletic Clubs is about to invest a significant amount of money and build a large indoor pickleball facility.
The Houstonian is also constructing an outdoor pickleball facility that will feature eight standalone courts and food and beverage options.
“It’s a trend that’s not going away,” said Cher Harris, the general manager of The Houstonian Club. “We sell memberships on it. They are loud and proud, demanding, and they’re very social. It’s growing beyond anything else.”
Additionally, since early 2022, Life Time has constructed indoor and outdoor pickleball courts at a rate of five new permanent courts each week. The company now has nearly 500 courts, intending to exceed 1,000 by the end of 2024.
However, before diving into the offering it’s important to do your research. Here are tips to help you offer the sport successfully:
- Connect with players in your community to understand their wants, needs and how to best serve them.
- Connect with professionals to design and create the best layout, surface and environment.
- Consider the noise. Players get really involved in the sport. Placing courts next to spas or mindful studios may cause disruption with other members.
- Advanced players may grow frustrated with those who are beginners or intermediate. Ensure you have enough class times for all levels of players.
- Have clear rules in place of when the courts can be used and/or how to reserve play time. This is especially important if you are constructing courts on basketball courts.
Want to learn more about the fastest growing sport? Listen to our podcast episode Everything to Know About Pickleball with Anish Manrai or watch our Thought Leaders panel on Navigating the Pickleball Craze.
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