As you might expect, we're partial to pickleball over any other racquet sport. But there are some intriguing options in this subgenre of sports – many of which haven't received the same buzz pickleball has over the last few years.
Below, we delve into two three properly obscure racquet sports we'd like to try...plus padel, which is by no means obscure (some estimate it's the fastest-growing sport in the world).
Love volleyball? Alternatively: love pickleball and the beach? Do we have the sport for you.
Beach tennis gained popularity in coastal regions around the world, but especially in Brazil.
Combining elements of tennis and beach volleyball, the sport is characterized by its simplicity, with two players on each team using solid wooden or composite paddles to hit a depressurized tennis ball back and forth over a regulation beach tennis net.
What sets beach tennis apart is its emphasis on control and finesse, as players strive to keep the ball in play by placing it strategically on the opponent's side, often engaging in intense rallies that require quick reflexes and agility.
One of the most distinctive features of touchtennis is the use of a smaller court, about half the size of a tennis court.
The game places a strong emphasis on quick reflexes, agility, and precise shot placement.
What makes touch tennis interesting is its accessibility and appeal to players of all skill levels. The smaller court and slower ball make it easier for beginners to get into the sport, while experienced tennis players can also enjoy the fast-paced action and strategic elements – very much like pickleball.
Touch tennis offers an exciting blend of athleticism and tactics, with players often engaging in intense rallies and crafty shots.
It appears to require even more careful placement, else a player risks having an ball rocketed away from them at an extreme angle.
Before we end on the sport which has seen the most growth out of any in this article...let's look at little padel, otherwise known as padelpong or padel pingpong.
This hybrid game doesn't seem to be played in very many places yet – a private company seems to be the sole manufacturer of equipment, like in pickleball's early stages – and that's a shame, because it seems like far too much fun.
Like padel below, this game is played on a rectangular court that resembles a scaled-down tennis court, enclosed by glass walls which the ball may bounce off of.
Many basement ping pong players have joked about "playing it off the wall," but padel pingpong actually allows for that in a structured, sensible way. Because the ball is slightly larger than a ping pong ball, it's more feasible to whip shots off the wall and actually them.
Beyond any reasonable doubt, pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the US. But what is the fastest-growing sport in Europe? Most say it’s padel – so we hesitate to classify this sport with the other, genuinely-obscure ones.
If you’re not familiar with padel, you should be. Played in a glass cage with open doors (that players are allowed to run through to retrieve errant balls), padel’s fast-paced nature reminds us of pickleball.
There are at least 5 million players in Spain alone, and several international sports celebrities have invested in padel already. Both pickleball and padel were invented out of boredom and remained in relative obscurity for decades.
With some of those out-the-door dive shots, padel is likely to be the stuff of highlight reels in the near future.