Pickleball has continued its rise as one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States among a younger demographic: high schoolers.
Several high schools in Maryland have added the racket sport as an option for athletes, allowing their students to join the pickleball team and compete against other schools.
Recently, Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore and Calvert Hall College High School in Towson, Maryland faced off in one of the first head-to-head, competitive pickleball matchups between high schools. Mount Saint Joseph won their first match and are preparing to face River Hill, a high school in Clarksville, Maryland.
“We want to work towards that multi-athlete. Kids that are playing baseball, lacrosse and tennis, to give them something to do in the winter. This is the sport,” Mount Saint Joseph coach Michael Stromberg said.
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How popular is pickleball?
According to a study released by the Association of Pickeball Professionals (APP) in March, 48.3 million Americans played pickleball between March 2022 and March 2023. That’s nearly 19% of the total adult population, using numbers from the 2020 U.S. Census.
A previous study from APP in August 2022 said that 36.5 million people had played pickleball in the 12 months prior. Their latest data from March suggests the racket sport saw an increase of more than 30% in participation over the course of about six months.
The same study from March listed New York, Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth as pickleball’s most popular locations, with 11.3%, 9.6% and 5.2% of their respective populations having played over the previous year.
The average age of pickleball players is 34.8 years old, according to that same study, with more than 70% of “avid” players between the ages of 18 and 44.