Pickleball’s surge in popularity is evident when looking at USA Pickleball Association Nationals in Casa Grande, Arizona. In 2013, 400 players participated in a 24-court event. This year, about 900 are playing on 32 courts, and an extra day was added to the competition Nov. 5-13 at Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort. “We’re maxed out,” says Justin Maloof, USAPA’s executive director of nearly four years. “We’ve had waiting lists since June.” That’s with minimal advertising too. Maloof explained to Connect Sports what’s led to the pickleball revolution and why it looks to keep going.
Organization. Pickleball was born in Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1965. But USAPA didn’t come to be until 2005. “Until 10 years ago, it wasn’t a sport; pickleball was just a game,” says Maloof. USAPA created a comprehensive rule book, sanctioned tournaments and promoted the sport.