5 Things You Should Know.
1. What is it? The sport of pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong on courts that are 22 by 44 feet. Four pickleball courts fit on the average tennis court. The scoring in pickleball starts at one and finishes at 11. The sport was actually invented in the mid-1960s as a sport for children played in the backyard.
2. What’s with the name? The game is named after Pickles, the dog of one of the sport’s founders.
3. Participation is growing fast. According to the SFIA, participation in pickleball has increased every year since 2014, the first year that participation was tracked. In 2014, there were 2.5 million pickleball players in the U.S. By 2018, that number had risen to 3.3 million. Participation in the sport is expected to rise in 2019, as well. The endeavor is a favorite among the senior set and is now expanding rapidly into younger age groups as well. Given that 70- to 84-year olds will represent the nation’s largest demographic group by 2028 due to the aging of Baby Boomers, the number of players should continue rising in the U.S. The Sunbelt states of Florida, Arizona, California and Texas are hotbeds for the activity, but there are also major pickleball pods in communities in Michigan and Wisconsin. Once upon a time, idle tennis courts in communities were converted to skate parks. But more often today, they are becoming pickleball playgrounds.
4. Equipment 101: Paddle, Ball, Footwear & Apparel. A pickleball paddle is smaller than a tennis racquet but larger than a table-tennis paddle. Today’s paddles are made from several materials including wood, graphite and aluminum. Wood paddles in the $20 range are at the low-end while lightweight graphite paddles at $100-plus are on the premium end. The ball is similar to a whiffle ball — pickleballs are lightweight with holes. As far as shoes and clothing, it is similar to tennis, with no real dress code for most pickleball matches. Fila is betting on the sport with a new footwear collection targeted to pickleball players. In general, comfortable tennis shoes are the go-to shoes for pickleball players.
5. It’s a retail opportunity. Beyond the pickleball retail specialists such as Pickleball, Inc. and Pickleball Central, sporting goods retail big dogs such as Dicks Sporting Goods, Academy Sports + Outdoors and Play It Again Sports have all embraced the pickleball category. With equipment prices at affordable and wide price ranges (under $10 ball packages to $100-plus paddles) and an expanding player demographic, the pickleball retail opportunity has plenty of green grass ahead of it.
FILA Launches into Pickleball with Footwear and Apparel Collection
With its sights set on the fast-growing pickleball category, Fila is launching the Volley Zone and Double Bounce, two new shoes designed specifically for pickleball players.
The Double Bounce, MSRP $65, is available now, while the Volley Zone, MSRP $100, will be available on FILA.com and at specialty retail in January. Apparel is in the works for Spring 2020.
“We see an incredible opportunity in the pickleball marketplace to deliver apparel and footwear that is specifically designed to the needs of this sport,” says Mickey Rivera, Fila’s director of sales for tennis & pickleball. “We know that pickleball players are amazingly passionate, and we wanted to create a line of products and a Fila Pickleball identity that reflect the uniqueness of the sport.”
Fila is incorporating some similar features from its tennis footwear into its pickleball line. The Volley Zone performance pickleball shoe borrows traits from Fila’s Axilus 2 Energized tennis shoe, including being lightweight and flexible. The Volley Zone has a herringbone rubber outsole for added traction and durability, pivot areas in the forefront of the shoe for added traction, and Energized midsole for extra cushioning.
The Double Bounce, an opening price point court shoe, also has forefront circle pivot areas with a high abrasion rubber outsole and mesh upper panels for breathability. Both shoes feature a Fila Pickleball logo, which pays homage to the brand’s classic visual identity, while creating a unique logo design for the pickleball category.
Selkirk Is Amped Up
Pickleball brand Selkirk’s Amped series of pickleball paddles includes five different models — Invikta, Epic, Maxima, S2 and Omni. Suited for all styles of play, and available in vibrant colors, Selkirk’s Amped Series paddles are designed to deliver increased power, precise ball control, and a larger sweet spot — the most critical benefits to maximize performance for players of all levels.
Selkirk recently re-signed pro Cammy MacGregor to a two-year deal as a Team Selkirk Advisory Staff member. A former Top 75 women’s professional tennis player, MacGregor is now a top ranked professional pickleball player, and also serves as a pickleball and tennis pro at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, CA. Selkirk plans to release a Cammy MacGregor signature Selkirk paddle, which will be inspired by her style of play.