This year, the sport of pickleball celebrates its 55th anniversary. In addition to this milestone, there is more to celebrate in the world of pickleball: the game continues to be the fastest-growing sport. According to the United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA), pickleball currently has 3.3 million players in the U.S.
Even the pandemic can’t halt the popularity of this sport. If anything, it has increased the popularity of the game even more. Similar to other sports, pickleball is a game where people can easily create a court and play anywhere – an asphalt driveway or an existing concrete tennis court. This has been a great temporary fix for “picklers” to get everyone in their household to join in on the fun while staying safe at home. The game is also ideal for social distancing since its rules include a no-volley zone of seven feet on either side of the net.
There are many physical and mental benefits gained from playing pickleball, which also contributes to the continued popularity of this sport during an ongoing pandemic. The game can improve cardiovascular health and help people achieve weight loss goals, thanks to the running from each square of the court to volley the ball back and forth. As with many forms of exercise, the game reduces stress due to the released endorphins.
As the popularity of the sport continues to increase and new, safe procedures at recreation areas and outdoor courts are adopted during the pandemic, so will expectations of playing conditions. Here are some factors to consider as you build or upgrade your courts to adapt to this growing phenomenon.
Shock absorption should be considered for all age levels
Pickleball was invented to entertain people of all ages, especially families. The equipment needed is minimal, and the rules are easy to understand. As kids become student-athletes, pickleball offers the opportunity to continue playing a game they love while improving speed and hand-eye coordination, benefiting skills for other sports. Everyone loves the sport for a variety of reasons, notably for the low-intensity exercise and camaraderie with others.
It’s important to keep in mind the various age groups and skill levels of those playing on your pickleball court as you design or reconstruct it. Courts designed with an adhered rubber energy absorption mat create a cushioned surface that reduces impact and stress on a player’s body, regardless of age. For community use and well-being, a minimum shock absorption level of 20% or above is recommended, and ideally a minimum of 30% or higher for competitive play. Regardless of location, pickleball courts should be constructed with a cushioned surface that offers shock absorption to protect athletes’ muscles, tendons, and joints. Offering a pickleball court that provides shock absorption (aka force reduction) and energy restitution helps reduce the risk of injury, and the comfort of the court allows athletes to play for longer periods of time.
Slip resistance is the key to outdoor courts
Keep in mind that slip resistance is a key attribute of a good pickleball court, especially for outdoor courts where rainy weather might limit playability. The Action Herculan® PB Pro Series dries very quickly thanks to its polyurethane topcoat surface. This surface type provides slip resistance, which is important for all players, especially older players with reduced flexibility. This system also offers excellent UV resistant properties, also making it ideal for outdoor courts.
Another court option is the Action Herculan® TC, which provides an eco-friendly cushioned court that has excellent shock absorption and can minimize the risk of injury. Action Herculan® TC can be used as an indoor or outdoor pickleball sports surface.
If you’re considering installing or upgrading existing pickleball courts in an indoor facility and prefer the look of hardwood maple flooring, pickleball can also be played on our sports floor systems for squash and racquetball.