Is Pickleball an Existential Threat to Tennis?

AP/Matt York, file

Is Pickleball an Existential Threat to Tennis?

Previously, I had written about how pickleball and tennis can coexist.

And although I think that is true, I can’t help but think about the other side of that coin. When thinking of the long-term effect of Pickleball, can it be possible that people that would be inclined to play tennis will be instead picking up Pickleball? Once they do, is it as likely that they play both?

This is where it gets a bit tricky. Currently, it’s very easy for tennis players to pick up pickleball, which is a sport that is not as technical as tennis. However, the same can’t be said about people that play pickleball playing tennis. A pickleball player that has only known pickleball will struggle with form and technique. I would venture to say that they would not even be able to get the ball over the net from the baseline, let alone serve with any sort of consistency or depth.

If that’s what the future looks like, it seems to me that tennis has the potential to lose a lot of players to pickleball in the future. Not so fast though!

Remember how racquetball had a massive following in the 70s and 80s? Nowadays, when I go to a tennis club, all the racquetball courts are either empty or repurposed for weight rooms. So, what happened to racquetball, and can pickleball learn something from its decline in popularity?

In the 70s, just like pickleball, racquetball was the fastest-growing sport in America. Courts were built in health clubs, and tennis clubs, all over the place. The popularity continued into the 80s until it fizzled in the 90s. Nowadays, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone looking for a racquetball game.

Some people believe that as the game evolved and equipment got better, low-skilled players started to drop out. If pickleball starts evolving into a different ball and better racket technology, it may very well resemble something closer to mini-tennis. If that’s the case, any tennis player could come in and completely dominate the sport. Also, let’s not forget that the people dominating pickleball right now are low-ranked tennis players that were not able to make it pro.

So, is pickleball just the racquetball trend disguised as something new? It’s very possible. I would argue that racquetball was a better workout though.

Either way, in terms of shoes, pickleball players have to use tennis shoes. So for anyone reading this playing exclusively pickleball, don’t forget to get your shoes at Tennis Warehouse.

Like always, don’t forget to jump on to the TennisPAL app to stay up to date on tennis news, find groups of friends to play with, and get a virtual coach to help with your tennis game.


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