Pickleball by the Numbers

Photo, istock

The Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) and Pickleheads, an online platform for pickleball, recently released the 2023 State of Pickleball: Participation and Infrastructure Report. The key takeaway is that pickleball is seeing unprecedented growth and as a result the industry will need to spend more than $900 million to build courts over the coming years to satisfy current and future demand. This would require constructing 25,784 courts at a projected cost of $902.4 million.

Overall, the report highlights the unprecedented growth and increased awareness of pickleball, leading to the importance of leveraging facility data in addition to more detailed participation breakdowns.

“We are excited to collaborate with Pickleheads to create this first-of-its-kind report, leveraging an even more detailed and expansive overview of the fastest-growing sport in America,” states Tom Cove, SFIA president and CEO. “This partnership and new research product will help inform the conversation around pickleball and enable the industry and community to address the opportunities and challenges.”

Pickleheads co-founder and COO Brandon Mackie concurs. “Leveraging our facility data, we can see this impressive growth has created an exciting challenge for the industry — addressing the court shortage in the U.S.

“With over $900 million of investment needed in court infrastructure, the coming years should be very exciting for the pickleball industry,” Mackie adds.

Dink Again: Highlights From The Report

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. There were 8.9 million participants in 2022, an 85.7 percent increase from 2021 and a 158 percent jump from 2019.

In 2022, the number of new pickleball participants exceeded the total number of participants in 2021. This highlights the unprecedented growth and increased awareness of the sport.

Pickleball is a multi-generational sport. The average age of a pickleball player is 35, while the age group with the most participants is 25-34, with the 18-24 and 65-plus age groups following closely behind.

Pickleball participation grew in every region in the U.S. in 2022, with the South Atlantic region (including DE, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA) leading the way with 1.9 million players. The Pacific (1.5 million) and East North Central (1.4 million) regions were the second- and third-most participated regions. The Mountain region (AZ, CA, UT) had the highest number of dedicated courts per 1000 participants (4.6), at over twice the national average. The Middle Atlantic region (NY, NJ, PA) had the lowest court coverage with 1.0 dedicated courts per 1000 participants.

Many of America’s largest metropolitan cities are far behind in satisfying pickleball demand for court infrastructure. New York and Los Angeles are each 98 percent below national averages for dedicated courts per 10,000 people.

There are currently 51,937 pickleball courts in the U.S. Sixty-five percent are outdoor (33,710), and 35 percent indoor (18,227).

There remains a large opportunity to build dedicated pickleball facilities. Over 70 percent of pickleball courts are temporary in nature.