Pickleball’s popularity is soaring

Sense of community helps grow the sport

Good Game: Ronda Parcels and Myles Hradec after a doubles pickleball match. Parcels and Hradec play at Briar Hill Community Centre in Calgary. (Photo by Josh Salvucci/The Press)

Pickleball may not come to mind when you’re talking about the most popular sport, but certainly should be.  

“Since the pandemic, everything in the sport has changed,” says Myles Hradec, and experienced pickleball player in Calgary. “We used to be able to walk in, get a court, but since COVID hit, everything changed.”

In spite of the crowds, Hradec still has a diehard passion for the sport.

“The community is really huge now. Things are exploding and it’s hard to get a court, but it’s just so much fun.” 

About 1.37 million people that play pickleball every month in Canada, according to a survey by The Sport Information Resource Centre. That number is information from 2023 so it is surely going to be even higher in 2024. 

“The growth is astronomical,” said pickleball player Leonard Bedford. “And the nice thing is that everyone can play the sport no matter what your age is.” 

Sports Destination Management reports the average age of a pickleball player is 35 years old in 2023. The players in the age range of 35-44 increased by 86 per cent from 2022.

This shows that the sport has become popular no matter the age range that you are in. 

“It is just so great to get some exercise, get out and meet new people,” Bedford said. “It is whatever you put into it. No one will push you.

“If you want to be a superstar, that is up to you.”

The reason why there is no pressure on people is because it is truly a community sport. Sometimes the sport can be secondary to the friendships it can bring. 

“You play with a variety of people and you get to know their names,” said Kate Granson, a former gym teacher and now teaches pickleball lessons in Calgary. “You get to socialize and after a while, you can become friends. Getting to enjoy each other’s company and going out for a beer after makes it fun.”

With pickleball continuing to be on the rise, the heights for the sport are continuing to soar. The power of pickleball is bigger than you think. 

In The Zone: Myles Hradec returns a pickleball serve. Hradec plays doubles at Briar Hill community centre in Calgary. (Photo by Josh Salvucci/The Press)
About Josh Salvucci 5 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Josh Salvucci is working as a writer for The Press in 2024.