SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Pickleball is picking up across the country.
According to a recent report, pickleball participation has grown in the U.S. by nearly 160 percent over three years, with nearly 9 million players in 2022.
Head to Riverdale Park in Sioux Falls and you may hear the constant bouncing and hitting of pickleballs.
Kay Faber picked up a paddle five years ago, after someone in a water aerobics class suggested the sport to her.
“I was hooked, seriously, right out of the shoot,” Faber said.
Pickleball is a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping pong.
“It isn’t dependent on a serve. In fact, the serve is de-emphasized in pickleball, so it’s not like you count aces, it’s designed to keep the play going,” Marlette said.
Bill Marlette is the president of Sioux Falls Area Pickleball.
He says about a year ago, the organization had fewer than 400 memberships.
Today, that number has surpassed 800.
“Pickleball has just taken off. You can see pickleball on television now. It’s relatively easy to learn. All levels and all ages can play. I think the average age of our club might be down in the 40s now,” Marlette said.
“It’s almost like a gold rush. People are excited about it. It’s a multi-generational sport,” Pickleball player and coach Linda Erickson said.
Earlier this year, Avera opened the Linda Erickson Pickleball Complex in southwest Sioux Falls.
It’s billed as the largest dedicated pickleball complex in the state and features 12 outdoor courts.
Erickson and her husband are among the main donors of the complex.
“These courts are busy. During the middle part of the day, it’s really easy to get on usually because that’s the heat of the day, but morning and evening, people are everywhere, which is really great to see. You see families. You see a lot of young people playing,” Erickson said.
Members of Active Generations will soon have more pickleball courts to enjoy.
The non-profit’s new eastside location will feature two indoor and two outdoor courts.
“We’ll still have our two indoor courts at our main location, but when we did this location we knew that was a need of what people were wanting to do and our members wanted to do,” Active Generations development director Wendy McDonnell said.
As pickleball continues to grow, Marlette says there’s a need for more indoor courts.
“I think we have plenty of places to play in the summer. The wintertime is the problem,” Marlette said.
Faber plays year-round, as often as she can.
While her competitive nature helped her get into the sport, that’s not the only reason she keeps coming back to the courts.
“The other part is the comradery between the people and the friends and the fun, and that really is what hooked me into it,” Faber said.