Annual Growth Report
2023 USA Pickleball Facts and Highlights (as of 1.4.24)
- Places to Play: USA Pickleball Places2Play Database (places2play.org) increased to 11,885 known locations. Over 1,000 new locations were added to the database.
- Total Known Courts: 50,003 (places2play.org)
- Membership: 78,766 (an increase of 15 percent over 2023). Pickleball continues to be embraced across the nation at the recreational and competitive level and by players of all levels and backgrounds. USA Pickleball’s governance, coupled with the commitment to provide and support forward facing new programs, initiatives, membership offerings, sanctioned tournament opportunities and strategic partnerships drive this success. USA Pickleball Membership supports what is needed for all players, at all levels, as pickleball continues to grow and evolve.
- USA Pickleball Ambassadors: 2,144
- Sanctioning: USA Pickleball sanctioned 195 tournaments in 2023 including a National Championships and National Indoor Championships. The National Pickleball League became USA Pickleball’s first sanctioned league in 2023, with 6 events at Chicken N Pickle locations across the country and a Championship held in Arizona in October of 2023
- Grants: USA Pickleball awarded 69 Community Grants, 4 Collegiate Grants, and 92 Youth Grants, with a total allocation of $43,550.
- Paddles & Balls: USA Pickleball Equipment & Evaluation Committee (EEC) and its independent lab tested and approved 1,185 new paddles and 92 new balls in 2023.
- Facilities Development: USA Pickleball was directly involved in the development pipeline of over $300M in new facilities in 2023, including over 35 regional and sector level venues.
- 2023 National Championships: The 2023 Biofreeze USA Pickleball National Championships powered by Invited and the PPA Tour were held at Brookhaven Country Club in Farmers Branch, Texas. The event drew nearly 3,500 registered players and 50,000 attendees, with the peak day welcoming over 9,500 fans – surpassing last year’s peak attendance at the 2022 Nationals by 4,000. Over 2.6 million TV viewers tuned in during the tournament to catch 20+ hours of coverage on ESPN, Tennis Channel and PickleballTV. More details regarding the 2024 Biofreeze USA Pickleball National Championship event will be announced in future months.
- 2023 Diamond Amateur Championship: The 2nd annual USA Pickleball Diamond Amateur Championship was held at the world-class Pictona pickleball complex in Holly Hills, Florida. This championship saw 1,082 players compete in more than 2,945 matches during the week. Players took home more than 675 medals, with over 250 being gold medals that earned them a Golden Ticket and pre-registration to the 2024 Biofreeze USA Pickleball National Championships.
- Certified Referees: USA Pickleball certified 35 new referees in 2023. By year’s end, USA Pickleball had 227 Certified Referees. In spite of losing 18 Certified Referees due to retirement, Certified Referee totals reflect an annual growth of 8 percent.
- Referee Evaluations: USA Pickleball Certified Referee Evaluators conducted a total of 45 on-court referee evaluations. Of particular note is the increase in the success rate of evaluations – 2023’s success rate was up to 78 percent from 69 percent in 2022.
- Level I & II Referees: By year’s end in 2023, USA Pickleball had a total of 603 credentialed Level 1 and Level II referees, an annual increase of 26 percent.
- Overall Officiating Program: At the beginning of 2024, USA Pickleball’s officiating ranks total 830 credentialed referees. This number represents an overall program growth of 20.2 percent.
- Professional Pickleball Registry: USA Pickleball's teaching and training partner, Professional Pickleball Registry (PPR) at present has 7,252 PPR members. In 2023, PPR conducted 325 workshops across the U.S. (record) with 3,456 workshop participants.
- Pickleball Coaching International: USA Pickleball's teaching and training partner, Pickleball Coaching International (PCI) at present has 754 members in the US. In 2023, PCI engaged 635 active members worldwide in its online course.
- Pickleball Magazine: USA Pickleball's publishing partner, Dollard Publishing, produced 8 issues of Pickleball Magazine in 2023, including the Product Guide. https://usapickleball.org/pickleballmagazine/
- USA Pickleball Rulebook: The USA Pickleball rules committee and board updated and approved the 2023 Official Rulebook.
- Officiating Handbook: The USA Pickleball Officiating Handbook was updated in 2023.
- Ambassador Handbook: The 2023 USA Pickleball Ambassador Handbook was updated by USA Pickleball field operation staff and ambassador committee members. The book was distributed electronically to all Ambassadors and is available for review in the Ambassador Academy.
- Special Olympics North America (SONA) Partnership: To encourage the growth and quality of pickleball sport development within Special Olympics in the North America Region, USA Pickleball will provide resources and assistance in support of this goal and SONA’s mission to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition opportunities to children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
- Media Relations Highlights: Pickleball continued to make headlines and capture national media attention in 2023 as the fastest-growing sport in America for the third consecutive year. Hundreds of media outlets covered every aspect of the growth of the sport including stories published within top-rated publications and news sources including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Vanity Fair, Forbes, The Boston Globe, The Economist, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and Axios, among others.
Pickleball is a court sport played on a badminton-sized court with the net set to a height of 34 inches at the center. It is played with a perforated plastic ball and composite or wooden paddles about twice the size of ping-pong paddles. It can be played indoors or outdoors and is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players. In addition, the game has developed a passionate following due to its friendly, social nature, and its multi-generational appeal.
Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles. New players can learn the basic rules quickly in a single session. No special apparel is needed – just something comfortable and appropriate for a court sport. Equipment is inexpensive and easily portable. The game can be played by all ages and is particularly popular in school physical education programs and in adult living communities.
The sport is governed by USA Pickleball (USAPickleball.org), which maintains the rules, promotes the sport, sanctions tournaments, and provides player ratings. For more information, please visit: usapickleball.org.
2023 marks the 58th anniversary of pickleball, as it was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, by three enterprising dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. Their children were bored with their usual summertime activities. It evolved from the original handmade equipment and simple rules into a popular sport throughout North America and is now taking off in other parts of the world.
The origin of the game’s name is very interesting, especially since no pickles are used. Accounts of how the name originated differ. According to Joel Pritchard’s wife (Joan), she started calling the game pickleball because “the combination of different sports reminded me of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.” However, according to Barney McCallum, the game was officially named after the Pritchards’ dog Pickles who would chase the ball and run off with it. According to McCallum, “the Pritchards had a dog named Pickles, and you’re having fun at a party, right? So anyways, what the hell, let’s just call it pickleball.”
Others claim both accounts may be true. In the early years, no official name was assigned to the game. However, a year or two after the game was invented, the Pritchards’ purchased a cocker spaniel and named it Pickles. As the game progressed, an official name was needed, and “pickleball” was it.
A pickleball court is 20’ x 44’ for both singles and doubles. The net is hung at 36” at the ends and hangs 34” in the middle. A non-volley zone extends 7’ back from the net on each side, commonly called “the kitchen.” In 2017, USA Pickleball and the American Sports Builders Association (ASBA) co-produced and released an official pickleball courts construction and maintenance manual for the industry. In 2020, USA Pickleball and ASBA produced an updated version of the court construction manual. Copies of this manual can be purchased at: https://www.sportsbuilders.org/publications/
Competitive paddles used in pickleball are constructed from a high-tech composite. An official pickleball is made of plastic and is between .78 to .935 ounces and 2.874 to 2.972 inches in diameter. There are no color restrictions other than the ball must be a single, consistent color. USA Pickleball has tested and approved several outdoor and indoor balls for official tournament play. Click here to review the complete list of all tested/approved paddles and balls approved for sanctioned tournament play.
Every U.S. state and all Canadian provinces now have pickleball venues. Senior residence communities, YMCAs, local community recreation centers, schools and parks are just some of the places likely to have pickleball courts. USA Pickleball compiles the most up-to-date and comprehensive listing of places to play on a new dedicated website: places2play.org. The known places to play totaled 11,864 at the end of 2023, an increase of 1,140 locations.
State by State Breakdown
USA Pickleball supports and sanctions tournaments throughout the United States. See Upcoming Events List for a current list of upcoming USA Pickleball sanctioned tournaments. In 2009, USA Pickleball held the first Nationals Pickleball Tournament in Buckeye, Arizona. Over 400 players participated in divisions for all ages. The 2023 Biofreeze USA Pickleball National Championships powered by Invited and the PPA Tour were held at Brookhaven Country Club in Farmers Branch, Texas. The event drew nearly 3,500 registered players and 50,000 attendees, with the peak day welcoming over 9,500 fans – surpassing last year’s peak attendance at the 2022 Nationals by 4,000. Over 2.6 million TV viewers tuned in during the tournament to catch 20+ hours of coverage on ESPN, Tennis Channel and PickleballTV. Click here for detailed information regarding this event.
Estimated Pickleball Players Within the United States
Pickleball grew in 2023 to 8.9 million players in the US, according to the 2023 Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) Single Sport Report on Pickleball. SFIA is the premier trade association for top brands, manufacturers, retailers and marketers in the American sporting goods and fitness industry. For details on the 2023 SFIA Report, click here.
Details on the 2024 SFIA Single Sport Report in Pickleball will be made available on this page later this year once the new report is released.
USA Pickleball was formed in 2005 to promote the sport. It maintains the official rules, sanctions tournaments, provides player ratings and produces the annual USA Pickleball National Championships Tournament. It is run by a CEO, executive staff and a volunteer board of directors supported by an all-volunteer Ambassador corp and thousands of dues-paying members.
Field Operation Structure
USA Pickleball field operations is divided into four sectors across the country. Each of these sectors support 3 unique regions including but not limited to ambassador support, regional tournament operation, recreational expansion and facility development.
USA Pickleball currently has a network of over 2,100 volunteer ambassadors who have pledged to promote both the sport of pickleball and USA Pickleball in their local area. They serve as local volunteer representatives for USA Pickleball for all activities related to pickleball within the area they represent. Ambassadors support and abide by all official rules, assist with local clinics and tournaments and look for opportunities to add/grow the game in their community. The USA Pickleball Ambassador Search feature can be found on the USA Pickleball website. Click here.
USA Pickleball Recreational Programs and Services Department has developed free training and downloadable resources for youth program providers nationwide to help with programs conducted in schools, parks, youth centers and pickleball facilities. A Campus Pickleball Guide has been created to help grow pickleball for middle school, high school, and college students. Additionally, a Fun Play Formats and Events resource has been developed to support programs for all ages offered in parks, HOA's, retirement communities, and pickleball facilities.
Youth Program Provider (YPP)
USA Pickleball offers a digital Youth Program Provider (YPP) Membership to support physical education teachers, youth program leaders, coaches and recreation professionals with training and program resources to introduce pickleball to youth. YPP members receive access to the Youth Pickleball Playbook, activity cards, twenty activity plans (ten for ages 8-12 & ten for ages 13-18), access to the Youth Pickleball Video Series, access to discounted, multiplayer equipment packs and grants.
Official Club Memberships
USA Pickleball now offers a club membership program for pickleball clubs, groups, and facilities. Benefits include discounts and access to USA pickleball approved software providers that offer solutions for managing fees, ladder/league play, calculated playing levels, socials, events, etc. Additionally, official members receive a USA Pickleball Official Club Banner for the organization ($90.00 value) and a mailed subscription to Pickleball Magazine. Lastly, the Official Club Plus Membership includes access to affordable liability coverage that includes accident medical insurance and certificates of insurance.
Youth & Collegiate Grant Program
Youth Program Providers or Official College/University Club members can apply for a USA Pickleball Youth & Collegiate grant for a maximum of $350 per location for the purchase of eligible pickleball equipment. The grants funding will be equally targeted to every defined USA Pickleball region and, when feasible, awarded to different communities within the region. For more information, click here.
Community Grant Program
A USA Pickleball Community Grant will provide current USA Pickleball members a maximum of $250 reimbursement for the purchase of qualified pickleball equipment dedicated to a specific location. Special considerations will be given to locations with written “new player” training programs, areas with few pickleball locations in the vicinity, and individuals and groups that USA Pickleball deems most in need of financial assistance. For more information, please click here.
As the governing body, USA Pickleball provides the sport's training and development program for pickleball tournament referees and officials. Referees reside in each USA Pickleball Region and participate as officials in the capacities as Head Referees, Referee Coordinators, Match Referees and Line Judges. New referees participate in a 'tiered' training program that affords participants the opportunity to progress through the various stages of referees at their own pace. The highest level of referees, those who have achieved the title of Certified Referee after a thorough evaluation process, are considered the top professionals in the sport.
USA Pickleball Social Media
See below for USA Pickleball's presence across various social channels.