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Pickleball 2023 Recap: The Dink's Biggest Takeaways

by The Dink Media Team on

Apart from the obvious – pro pickleball drama and the sport's global growth – 2023 was a momentous year for the sport.

Putting their drama aside, all three of the major pro leagues announced expansions in their programming tailored toward growing the sport internationally and among the high school and college age groups.

Colleges themselves finally moved the needle towards establishing a proper independent collegiate league.

All of these stand to benefit pickleball's expanding demographics...Which leads us to our main point: pickleball is getting younger.

That won't sound surprising if you've been to your local courts lately. Several reports predicted that the 25-40 age range is the fastest-growing segment of the sport's demographics.

An interior survey among The Dink's employees revealed at least one whose main takeaway focused on this phenomenon:

The youth have taken over and skill levels are rising everywhere you look. – JB, Operations Manager, The Dink

We asked readers of our weekly newsletter (which you should totally subscribe to if you haven't already!) for their biggest 2023 takeaways – and unsurprisingly, many responses focused on the growing diversity in age:

So many new players and new venues. Age demographics trending down quickly.
The growth has been astonishing near me, especially in the younger ages.

We should note that the 50 and older crowd has made pickleball what it is today. We're not suggesting that it's inherently a positive or negative that the sport is trending younger by the month – simply that the growth itself is a positive.

If anything, these changes help the sport escape the outdated and ageist notion that "it's a game for old people" – not that it was ever a bad thing that pickleball is popular among elderly age groups.

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More pickleball takeaways from 2023

Other 2023 pickleball takeaways from The Dink's team:

My biggest takeaway from playing pickleball is how strong and united some pickleball communities are. I've been fortunate to play at different places across the country this year and it's truly amazing to see how each place runs the courts and how they have each other's backs.

Still a takeaway for me is the number of recreational players that don't even know about professional pickleball tours. They only know pickleball just from playing in their communities. Alina, Partnerships Manager at The Dink

The sport is at a crossroads, globally speaking: pro leagues and other organizations have done their part to grow the sport around the world, but now that we've blown up in North America, it's time to focus on getting us into the Olympics and growing the pro scene in other nations. – Adam, Director of Publishing at The Dink

I've said it over and over: we need more courts and organized pickup queuing systems. – Luke, Chief Growth Officer at The Dink 

The sport continues to become more athletic; and even though people hate tennis players coming into pickleball, they will raise the level of play further. – Matt Reed, Social Media Manager at The Dink

The collective quality of play is improving rapidly. Three years ago, if you could dink and hit a third shot, you were better than 95% of people. These days, those are the table stakes. – Thomas, Founder at The Dink


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