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Pickleball Palooza

Michael and Sherry Martin
Doubles match of a pickleball tournament in Arizona

The lights are bright, the air is crisp, and the skyline of Grand Rapids is in the near distance as the night progresses. Weird sounds of a ball hitting a wooden surface, and drifting conversations from people talking fill the air. “I got left! I got left!” and “You got it! You got it!” are just some of the communication phrases that go on as tennis shoes screech on the courts — Specifically Pickleball courts. All of these sounds and movements are a normal standard at Lookout Park, the home of Grand Rapids’ most popular Pickleball courts.

However, it’s not just Grand Rapids that has felt the Pickleball fever. States across the U.S. have seen a steep rise in popularity for the sport that was previously geared toward the older generation. Nonetheless, it appears that Pickleball has found a way to become at the forefront of the younger people’s agenda. The only question is, how has it become so popular so quickly?

To understand this, one must first understand the game itself. Pickleball is similar to tennis; it can be played in singles or doubles (doubles are typically more popular), and its setup is similar with its rackets and net being necessary equipment. Despite the similarities, there are a handful of differences as well. The pickleball court is much smaller than a tennis court, with its dimensions being 44 feet long by 20 feet wide, compared to a tennis court which is 78 feet long by 36 feet wide. Although the pickleball equipment is used for the same principles as tennis, it’s vastly different. Instead of a racket, pickleball uses a paddle; rather than a tennis ball, a plastic ball similar to a wiffle ball is used. One final difference is the scoring. Pickleball points increase in increments of one, and after each point scored, players must switch sides of their court (left to right). Despite their similarities, pickleball and tennis remain distinctly separate sports.

But what allowed pickleball to evolve so quickly? According to USA Pickleball, in 2022 it was named the fastest-growing sport in the world for the second time in a row. There has been a 40% increase in popularity over two years, with 4.8 million players across the U.S. to date. This can be attributed to a few reasons, but three reasons stick out.

First: anyone can play. There’s a reason this game was popular with the older generation, and younger people have taken notice. It’s not a complicated nor physically imposing game, making it a convenient, fun game for most people no matter what athletic ability you have.

Second: it’s very convenient. Pickleball does not have to be a drawn-out game and it’s easy to understand. It can be a quick game depending on what score you go to, making it a convenient way for people who may not have a lot of time while also getting a fun workout in.

Finally: it’s incredibly fun. This sounds a bit obvious, but it’s a true statement. It allows friends to hang out, workout, and chill out.

As often as we see fads, trends, and popular waves of stuff coming in and out of our lives, it’s hard to believe that pickleball will fall off anytime soon. The game has struck a chord with a generation and seems to be vibrating with young people across the U.S. So for the time being, pickleball is here to stay.

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About the Contributor
Julian Zolenski
Julian Zolenski, Staff Writer
Julian Zolenski is a Senior at Forest Hills Eastern. This is his second year being on the Hawk Herald Staff. Julian enjoys a number of different things about his busy life including working as a line cook, playing with his dog, and hanging out with his friends. Right now Julian has a dream of being a Sports Commentator. He intends to accomplish this goal by majoring in Broadcast Journalism in his college future. Julian knows this is a lofty goal, but he will not let anything stop him from accomplishing it.   
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