Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the US as it is a great game for people of all ages. This game comprises elements from table tennis, badminton, and tennis. While it is not as demanding as tennis, it allows players to move around actively. Since the sport is so enjoyable, the question arises – is pickleball an Olympic sport?
Sadly, for enthusiasts, the pickleball Olympics is not within the foreseeable future as it doesn’t meet the requirements imposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
However, there are great chances of seeing pickleball in the Olympics in the upcoming future. Continue reading to find out more interesting details of pickleball!
In this article, we speak about how pickleball originated, what made the game so popular, and why pickleball Olympic sport isn’t a possibility anytime soon.
How Pickleball Stacks Up As an Olympic Sport
Although pickleball is a great game for most people, it is not as popular around the world as it is in the US. In order for a sport to be a part of the Olympics, it needs international popularity from 75 countries across four continents or 40 countries across three continents for men’s and women’s competitions, respectively.
But as the game is rising in popularity across the world, we have a great likeness of witnessing Olympics pickleball competitions. A handful of people dislike pickleball and aren’t interested in its feasibility, but even if pickleball becomes a part of the Olympics, it won’t be the weirdest game we see!
On the bright side, pickleball is one of the few sports that allow mixed-gender teams.
What Kind of Sport Is Pickleball?
Pickleball originated accidentally in 1965 when three dads from the Pacific Northwest decided to get rid of their children’s boredom. Since then, the game has evolved and refined to what is known as pickleball now. It is played on a 20 x 44 ft. court with a net hung in the center.
The sport involves a Wiffle ball and wooden pickleball paddles to be held by the players. Its rules are similar to tennis; a point is scored by the opponents when –
- The ball is not hit beyond the net
- The ball bounces twice on the same side of the court
- Hitting the ball beyond the playable area
- Stepping in the non-volley zone
Statistically, pickleball has more than 3.2 million players in the US and has an annual growth rate of more than 12%. The game is popular internationally in the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Finland, Canada, India, and a few more countries.
How a Sport Joins the Olympics?
The biggest competition events of the Olympic games are swimming, ice skating, gymnastics, and running. As of 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) established the following criteria to be met for a sport to be eligible for the Olympics games –
- The sport needs to have an international non-government organization.
- It should fully conform to the Olympic Movement Anti-Doping Code.
- International popularity is required across four continents and seventy-five countries or three continents or forty countries, respectively, for men’s and women’s games.
- Adequate facilities should be widely available for the game.
- The sport has to be popular among enthusiasts.
These criteria are tough to reach, the toughest goal being to achieve international popularity. Gender difference is included as women aren’t permitted to participate in professional sports across many countries in the world.
Why Should Pickleball Be an Olympic Sport?
Getting back to the question we began with, is pickleball in the Olympics? Not yet, but it is certainly a strong contender for being added to the Olympics games! Multiple factors make pickleball a compelling sport. Below, we will address them shortly.
Easy to Play
The sport is similar to tennis and badminton, but less tedious as it doesn’t require a lot of energy. It can be enjoyed by people of all ages and can serve as a great social activity.
Cheap and Simple to Set Up
Pickleball doesn’t require a lot of equipment. Pickleball gear includes a Wiffle ball, wooden pickleball paddles, and a net large enough to cover the center of a court. The standard court dimensions for pickleball games are 20×44 feet.
Sharp Rise in Popularity
Pickleball has become increasingly popular over the years and is rapidly expanding across the world.
How Many Countries Play Pickleball?
Since the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) was formed in 2010, the sport has grown extensively with seventy countries as of February 2022. In 2012, it started out with just four countries; the USA, Spain, Canada, and India! Moreover, the IFP has seen a 360% growth in the number of member countries since 2019.
The future looks bright for the sport as the IFP has been working relentlessly by providing certified instructors, supplying equipment to remote countries, and much more!
Frequently Asked Questions
Not entirely, but it has elements from ping-pong and also tennis and badminton.
Pickleball is best described as a cross-product of tennis and table tennis. The sport looks similar to tennis but is played on a much smaller court with a lighter Wiffle ball.
Although the game has been gaining rapid popularity in the US, it is still not an internationally recognized sport. However, there is a great probability of pickleball becoming a popular sport around the world.
Pickleball is not as demanding as tennis and is much easier on the body. But since the players have to bend down for taking shots, it can be difficult for the lower back.
When pickleball meets the requirement set by IFP of having international popularity across at least 75 countries in four continents for men’s games and 40 countries in three continents for women’s games, this sport will be in the Olympics.
With all of that being said, let us get back to where we started; is pickleball an Olympic sport? Although it’s not a part of the Olympics yet, pickleball could become a part of it sooner than we expect. The only thing that it’s missing is exposure, with which it could be a sport that is played all around the world!