By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette
The sport of pickleball is becoming one of Navarro County’s fastest growing new activities. The Navarro County Gazette had the opportunity to sit down with Brandon Mackie, co-founder of Pickleheads, a comprehensive database of over 13,000 pickleball courts between the United States and Canada, and talk about this sport is making its presence known in Navarro County.
Mackie described the games as “a cross between ping pong, badminton, and tennis.” The gameplay is similar in concept to tennis, playing on a mini tennis court, but the playing equipment is closer to ping pong with a large paddle, and a ball similar to a whiffleball. The scoring is similar to badminton, only winning points on a player serve.
“Anyone can pick up the sport,” Mackie said. “It really equalizes athletic ability and even gender, and even age in a way that puts everyone on a level playing field, and it makes it really fun for beginners to learn the sport because they can actually even win games for their first time out.”
The Pickleheads organization is currently in discussion one of the local clubs, where Mackie hopes to have pickleball tournaments set up at a local ranch, a private facility, in Navarro County by mid-summer.
“We haven’t got anything on the books just yet, but we’re trying to organize a round robin tournament,” Mackie said.
“It’s really starting to grow pretty rapidly,” he said. “Every city is in different stages, but I don’t think there’s a single city that we track that isn’t growing.”
- There are currently 36.5 million pickleball players estimated in the United States according to the Association of Pickleball Professionals in 2022.
- Pickleball participation has grown an average of 158.6% over the last 3 years according to the SFIA.
- Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America for the past three years.
- Players 18-34 make up the largest percentage of pickleball players at 28.8% nationwide.
- There are currently 10,320 pickleball courts in the United States.
- The pickleball paddle market size is estimated at $152.8 million in 2021 and is forecasted to grow at 7.7% CAGR through 2028.
Mackie hopes Navarro County residents will be enthusiastic about discovering the sport, and hopes they will come back for the social outlet the game provides.
“It’s a ton of fun,” Mackie said. “It’s very easy to learn and even if you’ve never played a sport in your whole life, you can go out and learn the game of pickleball in about 10 minutes.”
All photos provided courtesy of Brandon Mackie
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