Last updated 11/29/2022

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — There’s a new sport taking Utah by storm: Pickleball, and it has nothing to do with pickles. 

Pickleball — part badminton, part tennis, part ping pong, and all fun — uses a paddle that resembles an oversized ping pong paddle and courts similar to tennis, only smaller. It’s an easy-to-learn sport, played both indoors and outdoors, and since 2021, everyone who’s anyone is playing.

“We’re thrilled to see the sport growing so quickly! It’s a sport that you can pick up and learn in just a few hours, and it’s accessible to all, including both the younger and older generations. It’s a multigenerational sport, one that grandchildren can play with their grandparents, and more importantly, it’s a lot of fun!” Melissa Zhang, Director of Communications and Content for USA Pickleball, said.

Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, Wash., by three dads, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. The game was invented for their kids when their usual summertime activities weren’t enough. 

“I love the feeling you get when you hit the ball just right. In the sweet spot, and it clacks right over the net,” casual gamer Jonathan Reddoch said. 

Reddoch is just one of many pickleball players who started playing in the last few years. According to the 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) Single Sport Report on Pickleball, since last year, the sport has grown to 4.8 million players in the US. That’s a 14.8% increase from the previous year, and it’s made a huge impact in Utah as one of the top sports in the state.

Mindy Gibson, the pickleball coordinator at Life Time South Jordan, says it makes sense that Utah loves the sport so much because the sport is all about community.

“Pickleball really enhances that because it’s an all ages sport. An 85-year-old can play with a nine-year-old easily,” Gibson said.

Pickleball is a simple and easy-to-learn game for everyone. The basic rules can be learned in a single session. Here are few rules from USA Pickleball to get you started: 

  1. Pickleball is played either as doubles (two players per team) or singles; doubles is most common.
  2. There must be one bounce per side.
  3. You must serve at the baseline.
  4. Serves cannot land in the no-volley zone.
  5. Games are normally played to 11 points, win by 2.

To learn more about the rules and how to play, check out USA Pickleball’s YouTube Channel.

When you feel ready, put on some casual clothes and check out your local park or recreational center for a chance to play a casual game or in a tournament. Don’t worry if you don’t have any pickleball buddies, there are tons of strangers who can’t wait to play with new people. 

It’s the welcoming community that Reddoch loves so much, and he thinks that’s part of the reason for its growing popularity. 

“Pickleball is more than just a sport,” Gibson said. “It’s being involved in play, and play is vital to our wellbeing and pickleball really fits into that.”

Life Time South Jordan recently added six new pickleball courts for anyone interested in trying the sport.

Here’s a full list of pickleball courts.