How manufacturers are shaping the face of pickleball
We speak to the brands and creatives who are helping carve out a refreshingly accessible visual language for one of the world’s fastest growing sports
From a back garden knock-about game to America’s fasting growing sport, the rise of pickleball has been inescapable over the last few years. A mash-up of tennis, badminton and ping pong, the racquet sport was invented in 1965 by US Congressman Joel Pritchard and his friend Bill Bell during a summer vacation on Bainbridge Island, Washington. The name pickleball – one of its most intriguing features – was apparently a reference to the leftover group of non-starters that traditionally formed the ‘pickle boat’ in rowing races.
Part of the appeal of pickleball, which is now played by almost five million people in the US alone, is just how accessible it is. Played in a badminton-sized court using paddles and perforated plastic balls, it doesn’t require the same level of fitness as other racquet sports like tennis, and can also be played as singles or in larger groups. “I think pickleball is very approachable and social. We have found that people are really leaning into these aspects of the game. They feel part of a community and keep showing up to the courts because they have such a good time,” says Maggie Brown, co-founder and CEO of Recess Pickleball.
Top: Recess Pickleball. Above: Erne