Pickleball popularity is growing in the Hoosier state

Kids attend a pickleball camp (Photo: provided by Rick Witsken)
Pickleball becoming more popular
Pickleball craze
Pickleball: the sport of the future

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Pickleball is no longer simply your grandmother's favorite sport to play.

There's a national organization called the The United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA) and a worldwide group known as the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP). In November, the sport has a huge event drawing "picklers" from all over the country to the world-renowned Indian Wells Tennis Garden near Palm Springs, California. And local leagues all over Indiana are seeing record numbers.

In fact, pickleball has shown a 650 percent increase in participation numbers over the last six years, according to the USAPA.

What is pickleball?

Pickleball combines the elements of tennis, badminton, racquetball and ping-pong. Competitors use a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. It's played indoors (and now outdoors, as well) on a badminton-sized court with a slightly modified tennis net. Pickleball was created back in 1965 for all ages and skill levels. The rules are simple, and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but it can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.

Before we get to scoring, let's talk about the rapid growth of this sport. Many point to the social aspect as a reason for its popularity. Pickleball is usually played as a doubles game. Because it can be played by all ages ranges, family members from 8 to 80 can team up for a good time.

"You can have a serious tournament mentality on the court, and then go out and have a nice lunch with your competitors after the match," Noblesville resident and pickleball enthusiast Kris Hare said.

Yes, it can be a workout, too. One player, who wears a fitness tracker during matches, said two hours of pickleball is equivalent to walking four miles. But you get out what you put in. If you have an extremely active doubles partner, your physical output might be less intense.

The game is also relatively inexpensive. At the Noblesville Parks & Rec Center, pickleball drop-ins are charged $5, and a beginner can pick up a basic wooden paddle and balls at Dick's Sporting Goods or on Amazon for around $30. (Serious picklers shell out hundreds of dollars for fancy composite paddles.)


A pickleball game is normally played to 11 points (15 points in tournaments) and must be won by 2 points. Just like in ping-pong, you can only score a point while serving. The serve must be hit with an underhand swinging motion with the ball contacted below the hips.

When hitting the serve, the server must be behind the baseline and serve into the adjacent service box, just like tennis. When the ball is served, the player on the receiving side must let the ball bounce once before hitting it. When the ball is returned to the serving side the ball must again bounce once before being hit. After the ball has bounced once on each side, the ball can be hit without bouncing.

There are also areas known as "No Volley Zones" and "Kitchens," but we'll let the people on the court explain those to you.

Not convinced yet that pickleball is here to stay?

There are home associations in central Indiana building pickleball courts in the middle of neighborhoods as selling points. I discovered a group called "Indy Pickleball" on Facebook. More and more schools are picking up pickleball. And the city of Fishers hosted its first Pickleball Tournament earlier this year. There's even a chain of pickleball-themed restaurants such as "Chicken N Pickle," offering a combo of food, beer and indoor/outdoor courts, popping up in Kansas City, Wichita and San Antonio.