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National Pickleball Day, celebrated each August 8th, is a grand day to recount a legend about the sport’s origins. The inventors of the game were seeking just the right kind of ball. It had to be bouncy enough to keep a volley going, dead enough to usually stay within a badminton-sized court. No ball tried seemed to achieve that happy medium.
Then one creator had a brainstorm. “Let’s get Pickle’s ball!” he cried, referring to the pet dog and its favorite toy. They grabbed the ball, put it into play and it displayed just the right balance of bounce and stiffness. The name pickleball was born.
Apocryphal or fact? We may never know. But one thing’s beyond debate. When included in a residential building’s amenities, a pickleball court is proving to be one of the most effective selling points of modern condominium sales teams. That’s because an ever-increasing number of prospective buyers can’t resist the prospect of engaging regularly in what is arguably the nation’s swiftest-expanding, most social sport.
Pickleball rules. So says the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s annual Topline Participation Report, which tracks participation rates of Americans 6 and older across 120 different sport, fitness and outdoor activities. “Pickleball continues its incredible rise,” the report’s authors concluded. It has become, they continued, “the fastest-growing sport over the last two years, with participation seeing a 39.3% growth.”
USA Pickleball’s 2022 Pickleball Fact and Media Sheet reports pickleball grew in 2021 to more than 4.8 million players in the U.S. Of that total, 3.5 million were casual players competing 1 to 7 times a year. And for those who associate pickleball with retirement communities, it’s interesting to note average age for all players continues declining. It reached 38.1 years in 2021, a drop of 2.9 years from 2020.
“Just a few years ago, pickleball was a niche pastime, with almost no mainstream awareness,” Related Group Senior Vice President Nick Perez says.
“Fast forward to today, and the sport is making national headlines as one of the fastest-growing hobbies in the country. It’s been an incredible rise.”
Perez should know. At his company’s Casamar, in Pompano Beach, Fla. residents continue to book the pickleball court, which is set alongside the sunrise and sunset pools, and within sight of dramatic Atlantic Ocean views. “It’s important for Related to meet our buyers’ needs and incorporate offerings in our products that are fresh and exciting,” Perez says. “That’s why we’ve added a full-size pickleball court . . . It’s been a strong selling point for the property, which is now nearly 60 percent sold.”
At luxury condominium ONE Park Tower by Turnberry at SoLe Mia in North Miami, pickleball is one of the long list of outdoor and active amenities that build community and contribute to wellbeing. That’s also the case at The Standard Residences in Midtown Miami, where residents can partake of a spirited game in an air-conditioned venue called The Stadium. Residents awaiting their turns on the court can cheer on their neighbors from the bleachers. The Standard Residences provides all pickleball gear, including uniforms, paddles, balls and even sweat bands.
“Our buyers are excited to have pickleball on property,” says Carlos Rosso, founder of Rosso Development, developer of ONE Park Tower and The Standard Residences. He adds another appeal of the game for developers is it takes less space than tennis.
“It has been a big draw and popular addition to our slate of amenities. Pickleball is an incredibly social game that can be played by people of all ages and appeals to all demographics. Parents can play with their kids, grandparents with their grandkids. It’s fun and brings people together.”