Have you joined the wave of people playing pickleball? I admit I held off for a few years while family members kept telling me how much fun it is. I tried it this summer and I am converted. Now I will take my pickleball paddle with me on trips as it is so easy to pack and find games in other cities. Just find a pickleball court.
Recent news that Lebron James and other NBA players and professional athletes are buying into professional pickleball teams is only a sign that this sport is growing beyond being just a sport for recreational players. It is already the fastest-growing sport in the USA, and it is growing internationally as well.
The global organization for pickleball, World Pickleball Federation (WPF) plans to hold a World Pickleball Games Summit in 2023. Their organization has 34 member countries with 6 global regional federations formed.
The International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) is another leading organization for the sport with 63 member countries that have been around since 2010. In 2020, during peak Covid no less, it opened multiple offices in China.
What is great about pickleball for a traveler is that the sport requires limited equipment. The main need is a paddle which is about 8 x 16 inches with a handle of about 4 inches and under a pound in weight. Paddle and handle sizes vary, but all are close to these measurements. Think of a ping pong paddle that is perhaps twice the size, which is easy to throw into a suitcase. The ball is plastic with holes, and while it looks like a slightly larger-sized wiffle ball, that is where the similarities end. The pickleball ball is designed for bounce, heavier than a wiffle ball, with more surface area, with evenly distributed, circular holes.
I often see people on Reddit lining up games and asking advice on where to play, as they plan to visit my local city. Pickleball is a very welcoming sport in which pickleball courts often have open play times for anyone to play their way into the next game. No need for a team or foursome. Just show up and play.
Going forward I will be packing my paddle and look forward to playing domestically and internationally in the coming year. I encourage you to give it a try.