I feel like I might be the only person in the media world who has yet to discuss pickleball it has been covered everywhere it's impressive trajectory and continued growth as the fastest growing sport in the world the fact that tons of high-profile athletes and very very rich individuals and even companies continue.

To just throw their money at it the fact that the tennis world and the pickleball world have in some ways gone to war that there is a rift between those two communities it is a topic that I haven't talked much about until now because I had never played and I wanted to play it and then talk about it I'm.

Gonna make this Ultra personal what was my experience playing pickleball like and how was that informative of this phenomenon this rise in uh in pickleball participation professional pickleball leagues and the construction of pickleball courts the way pickleball was presented to me as an outsider was well the sport is really.

Growing because it's accessible and anybody can play and the reason I'm getting to this now is because I went on vacation to San Diego with uh my girlfriend and her family which is a family of four including my girlfriend I went on the trip making it five and uh.

We played some doubles at a resort that has pickleball courts and Tennis Courts but what I found is the pickleball phenomenon is as advertised I went out there and I saw for myself that the idea that you can get a bunch of regular adults older adults younger adults alike and if we had children they would have fit in.

Just fine and you can get them on a pickleball court with zero experience and they can have a good time they can play the sport of pickleball and have a good time pretty much regardless of differing levels differing levels of coordination.

And athleticism by the way on this Resort where you have casual people from all walks of life who are just trying to enjoy warm relatively San Diego in the winter wintry uh month of December again this is anecdotal the tennis courts were empty the pickleball courts were packed in the resort setting again.

A bunch of families trying to vacation that's what we have here A bunch of families trying to Vacation pickleball is the more attractive option because it's easier and let me describe to you why it's easier which is something that a lot of people have left out we get technical for a second it's very.

Very simple the cord is small the ball doesn't bounce very much you have the first part of the equation of Racket Sports which is getting your feet in the right position to hit the ball and in pickleball that's a lot easier then you got to hit the ball and you got to hit the ball in.

That's the key it's easier in pickleball because the way the Wiffle ball and the paddle interact there's not a lot of power there is not a lot of power the less power the more control you can hit the ball pretty hard and still control it the.

Ball doesn't go long very easily because the power is so muted so it's easy to get your feet in the right spot it's easy to control the ball because it's such a low power setup uh the the paddle is kind of wood and rigid not very you know flexible and again the Wiffle ball it's not a bouncy ball so it doesn't really come off your.

Racket with a lot of speed makes it easy to control so you get the ball in and when you get the ball in you get rallies and that's what makes racket Sports fun so it makes ping pong fun it's what makes tennis fun it's what makes badminton fun.

Where does volleyball fit in is that a racket sport same same kind of thing boundaries net ball goes back and forth rallies are fun not rallies hitting the ball out not being able to get it in not as fun just not as fun so pickleball is designed for you to have those rallies it's designed that way and.

That's what makes it accessible now how do I feel about that is that is that great should we celebrate pickleball for these qualities that's the first thing I want to talk about and it's complicated in a way yes in a way it's freaking awesome.

That on this vacation where we went to the beach we ate good food we tried to go on a couple hikes one of the activities that was as enjoyable as any of the others was going out there to play Pickleball it was a lot of fun and that's awesome that anybody can just go pick it up and.

Do it and it's you know an activity that is just so uh accessible and family oriented and fun and it's a rocket sport where you get outside and you get some exercise and you inevitably have some laughs and you compete which is always kind of fun um so that part is good.

The part that's not good is if it comes in the way of what I feel is so rewarding about tennis and other sports that I've participated in and it doesn't have to be a sport it can be even like I don't know a video game heart is good heart is actually the whole point.

There's nothing better in life that you can do than accomplish difficult things there is nothing that builds character there is nothing that you will feel better about in life than working on something that's really hard accomplishing it improving at it that's what it's all about and that process is.

The point that process is sports I always say you know tennis although it's difficult uh it's not the hardest thing I've ever done athletically the hardest thing I've ever done was I I started uh training in Jiu Jitsu and Jiu Jitsu is a sport where a little bit on like tennis there's very little reward when you're starting out.

In tennis uh you can get lucky as a beginner with a couple of good shots uh maybe you can win a point here and there and you get that that Rush of dopamine where you feel like you were successful uh you know even if you're a beginner and your coach is just feeding you shots sometimes you get the ball in and you feel like you did it right like you did.

Something good uh in Jiu Jitsu you basically get your ass kicked you're basically unsuccessful whenever you compete in Jiu Jitsu and that goes on for about a month unless there happens to be other beginners starting out at your Club at the same time as you and I only trained Jiu Jitsu for one summer but I always say it's.

Literally the most rewarding thing I ever did and the only reason it's the most rewarding thing I ever did is because it was so damn miserable for a month where I did not and in Jiu Jitsu the goal is to is to have a submission which means you get your opponent to tap out I know it sounds kind of violent it's not it's.

Actually safe and uh really totally cooperative and friendly uh as long as you're not an um about it which in my experience nobody was so um pickleball is easy and in a way that stinks but here's kind of My Hope My Hope Is that pickleball can be a Gateway into tennis.

And let me just say you know the tennis skills did transfer I was by far the best pickleball player among my girlfriend and her family I was by far the best not even close um my team won and whichever team I was going to be on was probably going to win and that's because of my experience in.

Tennis my experience in getting my feet in the right position to to hit a ball to swing a racket and control a ball and to understand how to control a racket face by using the proper grip how to uh control a swing path how to track a ball with my eyes to a contact Point things that help me regardless of what racket sport I'm.

Playing they're just going to give me an edge and I am good at them right um so those tennis skills they absolutely transfer to pickleball so my hope is that people who are introduced to racket Sports through pickleball will go to tennis and.

That experience in pickleball it will help them play tennis it will help them transition to the sport for some people this won't happen but I'm just hoping for some it will there's going to be overlap and my hope is that in some ways pickleball can be a gateway drug for tennis and I don't see why not because just like the tennis skills.

Transferred over to pickleball and will you know set someone like me up in a position to transition into the sport easier the same thing should happen pickleball to tennis now what about pickleball as a spectator sport what about the viewing appeal of pickleball the answer is I don't know is.

Professional pickleball going to be successful are people going to want to watch this sport the answer is I don't know I and I I don't really have a prediction but I will say the obvious appeal of playing the sport and that's obvious and indisputable.

That is not going to automatically mean that people are going to want to watch now as much as and I had to think about this as much as I feel like tennis has kind of a unique Advantage when it comes to Bringing viewers in uh because tennis is a sport um where people can play their whole lives.

And I think a lot of people engage with the sport and watch the sport through a certain and particular lens of also playing and I think that's unique to tennis and golf but I think in a lot of other sports you play as a kid you become an adult you stop playing and you're not engaging.

Through through the sport uh through a lens of continuing to play it of all the sports in the United States the major sports hockey basketball football and baseball there is no sport that is less accessible than football and the NFL is King.

It's the product that is by far the most successful in terms of TV ratings in the US not even close not even a ball game not even a contest it's the NFL the NFL is dominant and second place is college football nobody plays football there's almost no adults over the age of 21 playing tackle football there's like zero uh yet it's.

King so I feel like it's hard to make an argument that there is a direct line between the popularity of a sport as a sport to play and the popularity of a sport uh to watch on television I don't think there's a straight line between the two the the popularity of pickleball as a sport that you play is not directly correlated to its.

Prospects as a spectator sport that's all I have to say about that
Gill discusses his experience trying out the fastest growing sport in the world, pickleball, for the first time. Is pickleball what it says it is? Should tennis folks really be warring with the pickleball movement? Do people want to watch pickleball or just play it? Many questions for a very interesting development.

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