New report: Pickleball skyrockets 52%

Jump from 4.0 to 4.5. Phillies reinvent the game.

The numbers are in. Pickleball holds the top spot for America’s fastest-growing sport again in 2023. Find out how much the game has grown and which sports are at risk of being passed by pickle below.

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In This Issue:

⚾️ Around the horn
🪜 Make the jump to 4.5
📈 Pickleball growth

Let’s play ball.

Three Keys to Go From 4.0 to 4.5

Have you reached a plateau? Think your game is as good as it's going to get?

We asked pro player Eric Roddy to write his best tips for moving past the 4.0 plateau... Here is his advice:

1. Use the drive as a situational third shot, not necessarily your “go-to”

Listen, I love to drive as much as the next guy. A player with a killer drive can be almost impossible to stop when they are hot, and the drive plays a much more prominent role in mixed than in gender doubles.

With that being said, driving is much riskier than a solid third shot drop, and should be used more as a change of pace than as a “go-to,” especially since your opponents’ fourth shot volleys will only get better as you move up in skill. Drop the ball the majority of the time, and use the drive as a good change-up.

2. Don’t be a hero on the serve and return

Pickleball is fun because almost every single point (at least in doubles) is a minimum of 3-5 shots, if not more.

As you develop a stronger serve and return, it can be tempting to risk more on these two shots to get free points or easier third or fourth shots. While this might be necessary if you and your partner need a spark in a lopsided game, I strongly advise against it.

Find a serve and return that is relatively high and deep that you can make 95-100 percent of the time, and hit it. Missing a serve or return — especially in a close game late — can be a killer. Consistency > power.

Roddy explains tip three and a bonus tip here.

Selkirk Launches New Paddle

Selkirk is excited to introduce the Vanguard Control: an Elite Raw Carbon Paddle with Supreme Spin.

The Vanguard Control's Raw QuadCarbon Fiber Face, combined with the Vanguard X5+ honeycomb core, goes beyond providing a satisfying bite spin; it's crafted with precision using a non-thermoformed process to enhance the paddle's control capabilities.

Available in three distinct shapes - Invikta, Epic, and S2 - each paddle is crafted to suit your unique style. If you're seeking consistency without compromising on spin, this paddle is your ideal choice. Check out the Vanguard Control Series paddle today and redefine your game!

Pickleball Growth Outpaces All Other Sports in 2023

We have said it before but we will say it again, pickleball is America’s new favorite pastime. Even MLB players are trading their gloves for paddles (more below).

You want data? Fine, we’ve got your data right here.

The Sports and Fitness Industry Association announced that pickleball is again America’s fastest growing sport. The game saw a 52 percent increase in participation last year. That is on top of the 86 percent increase in the previous year.

There is still a long way to go to catch some other mainstream sports but continued growth is key. The SFIA estimates pickleball participation to have reached 13.6 million players last year. For reference, tennis has an estimated 23.8 million players and basketball tops the list at 29.7 million.

Send it Around the Horn

The Philadelphia Phillies are getting into the pickleball swing of things while they train for the upcoming season in Florida.

The team has adopted a new cross-training technique that they call 'Pacoball' after outfield coach Paco Figueroa. The game is played 2 vs 2 on a 60’x60’ court without a net. Players hold the paddle in their non-dominant (glove) hand and the pickleball is swapped for a racquetball.

Figueroa believes the game contributes to quickness and confidence. It helps his players get a jump on the ball and aggressively approach it with their paddle.

Having a paddle in their glove hand benefits coordination and wrist manipulation. It’s safe to say we’re expecting the Phillies to bring home some Golden Glove awards in the outfield this year.

If you’re headed to any spring training games this season, keep an eye out for Pacoball in the pregame. Whether your preference is Cactus League or Grapefruit League, you can find courts to keep you busy between innings.

Pickleball in the French Riviera?

Imagine soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of the French Riviera, sharing laughs with new friends as you warm up for epic morning rallies on the courts of Nice, France. This can be your reality, fellow dinkers.

From May 6 - 11, 2024, elevate your pickleball skills with Nike's Director of Pickleball, then unwind with local wines and seaside strolls. Pickleball de France's retreat offers a serious pickleball camp (levels 3.0 - 4.0 are welcome) combined with a cultural dive into the breathtaking Mediterranean lifestyle.

Get a sneak peek of the action, check out the curriculum, and explore planned activities (hint: rosé tastings and Monte Carlo outings included). Spots have almost filled up—join players from around the world and reserve yours now. Click for details.

College Pickleball Grows 142% in 2023

One reason pickleball has seen sustained growth is the inclusion of younger players. Yesterday DUPR released statistics on the growth of collegiate pickleball last year.

Overall they saw a 142 percent growth in the number of college participants. The number of players grew from 151 to 365. The number of schools competing more than doubled, going from 16 to 36.

Not only did the number of players receive a bump, but the skill level of college competitors is also on the rise. The average DUPR of the Top 10 players rose from 4.765 to 5.549.

With more colleges putting in courts and students adopting the game, it’s pretty safe to say these numbers will only be going up in 2024.

Agassi Links Up with Life Time

Andre Agassi has not been in the news this much since 2003. From the Pickleball Slam 2 to joining the board of DUPR, Agassi has taken retirement to a new level.

Andre’s latest appointment is a new beast all its own. Yesterday Agassi was named as the inaugural chair of Life Time’s newly formed Pickleball and Tennis Board.

In 2023, Life Time Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Bahram Akradi made a commitment to become the nation’s leader in pickleball courts and programming. The company now has 630 courts in 130 clubs.

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