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Apple Watch study shows pickleball now more popular than tennis

Its popularity has made it the fastest-growing sport in the U.S.

People playing pickleball outside
Seattle Parks and Recreation / Flickr

One sport has become increasingly popular in the world of paddle and racket sports in recent years, and it’s known as pickleball. So, what is pickleball? Pickleball, in simple terms, is a racket or paddle sport that combines various elements of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong, and people play it indoors or outdoors. In recent years, it has been officially recognized as a sport with organized tournaments, leagues, and dedicated pickleball communities worldwide. 

Pickleball facts to know

Pickleball participation has grown by 158.6% in the last three years and is the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., according to the prestigious Sports & Fitness Industry Association. In fact, despite its unusual gameplay, it has surpassed tennis in terms of popularity, according to a new Apple Watch study.

This rise in popularity that surpasses tennis is due to its simple rule system, easy accessibility, and ability to improve health alongside catering to all skill and age levels and encouraging engagement in social interaction. Pickleball has also been proven to help with mental well-being, cardiovascular and metabolic health, and improve overall physical fitness. 

In the words of Sumbul Desai, M.D., Apple’s vice president of health, “Physical inactivity is a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease and a number of other chronic conditions, but finding an activity that someone enjoys partaking in can help build a routine, whether that means picking up a paddle or a racket.” Thus, pickleball is incredibly useful for maintaining a healthy and fit life. 

With these benefits known, exactly how many people are playing pickleball? Well, around 36.5 million people are participating in this sport, according to a report by APP Tour. The official statement reads as follows: “According to the 2023 APP Pickleball Participation Report, 14% of Americans 18 and older played pickleball between August 2021 and August 2023. That equals 36.5 million pickleball players!”

What the study and what pros say about pickleball

The Apple Heart and Movement Study, which included over 200,000 participants who agreed to share their Apple Watch data, found pickleball has surpassed tennis in popularity for the first time, as mentioned earlier. Based on the information revealed by the study, Utah has taken the number one spot where people eagerly participate in this sport.

It’s evident that pickleball is gaining traction, with little doubt that the sport is going anywhere. In fact, thousands of people often comment on the sport and how it plays a big role in their family’s lives. 

For example, Megan Fudge DeHeart, a professional pickleball player, said, “I’m excited for the future of our sport — for the players today, for those who will continue to flock to pickleball, and for my children who also love the sport and have a lifetime of playing pickleball ahead of them.”

Comments like these, alongside the Apple Watch study findings and relevant industry data, cement the idea that this is a sport that’s not going anywhere. The pickleball community continues to thrive and grow, with more and more players joining the ranks as they recognize its health benefits, approachability, and social benefits. 

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Jason Collins
Jason is a busy writer, avid traveler, and a car fanatic.
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