Pickleball: It's Kind of a Big Deal

Author: Thomas Huberty and Caroline Ashworth

People playing pickleball."

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), pickleball participation has increased by 158.6% from 2018 to 2022, with an especially large increase of 85% year-over-year in 2022.

Pickleball, a sport accessible to all ages, is a cross between ping-pong and tennis. It is played on a small court, either indoors or outdoors, with short-handled paddles and a wiffle ball. While the scoring system is complex, the objective is simple: Hit the ball back and forth so that your opponent cannot return it.

It is no longer just an obscure, learn-it-in-high-school-gym-class game. It is a sport involving real competition, which is reflected not only in the individual matchups between friends but also in the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA). Fun to watch and growing in ratings, the PPA puts pickleball on the big screen.

However, pickleball competition isn’t just for professionals — the university offers singles and doubles pickleball tournaments open to all students. For beginners not quite ready to compete, RecSports also offers introductory workshops that teach the basic skills and rules of the game.

Additionally, the Pickleball Club of Notre Dame is very active, hosting biweekly practices for members and sending its top players to the Pickleball National Championships. They even sell merchandise, allowing players to show off their dedication to the sport.

And for those who don’t want scheduled activities, there are open courts in North Dome at the Joyce Center, with paddles and balls provided. However, due to its popularity, these courts can be busy during some of the afternoon hours; so if you go, it’s best to get there a bit early.

Pickleball isn’t just a sport for the elderly. So grab your paddle, head to the courts and channel your big dink energy.