Pickleball: Cabo’s Hot New Sport

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Pickleball: Cabo’s Hot New Sport
Invented in 1965 as a backyard game on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, pickleball has grown by leaps and bounds. With a growth rate of 39.3% since 2021, pickleball has been named the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, with an estimated five million players. The growing popularity of pickleball has been attributed to its short learning curve, its appeal to a wide range of ages (and fitness levels), its low startup costs, and its infectious fun. The former children’s backyard game is now a global sensation enjoyed by millions. Deep-sea fishing and golf will always be the dominant sporting pastimes in Los Cabos, but pickleball courts, roughly one-fourth the size of a tennis court, are cropping up from Cabo San Lucas to San Jose del Cabo. The region’s active lifestyle culture is fertile ground for this up-and-coming sport.

It’s the distinctive “thwock” of a paddle hitting a pickleball. A mash-up of tennis, ping-pong (table tennis), and badminton, pickleball has specific rules, paddles and court dimensions. The game is played with a flat paddle, as opposed to a stringedracquet. The hard plastic ball that’s used for play, which resembles a perforated whiffle ball, creates drag and produces minimal bounce. It’s lighter and easier to hit than a tennis ball because it doesn’t fly as fast or bounce as high. A recent report in Forbes quoted professional pickleball player Parris Todd, a former competitive tennis player. “It’s social and extremely fun and easy for the whole family to play—everyone from a young kid to a grandma,” he said of the fast-growing sport. “Plus, the health benefits are not only the exercise but the joy it brings.”
Many players describe pickleball as a great workout that doesn’t feel like a workout. Also, pickleball is a low-impact sport. It’s easier on the body—especially the hips and knees—than tennis and other racquet sports.
Pickleball is played either as a singles or doubles game, with the same court size used for both. Most of the pickleball played in Los Cabos is doubles, which is more social and involves less movement. Pickleball can be played indoors or out, but in perpetually sunny Los Cabos, pickleball is played exclusively outside.
In addition to the game’s “fun factor,” pickleball can improve hand-eye coordination in older adults (important for daily tasks like eating and driving). Studies confirm that playing pickleball on a regular basis increases agility, coordination, and muscle strength. “Picklers,” as pickleball players are known, show marked improvements in cardio fitness and cholesterol levels with regular play. Blood pressure levels tend to drop as well. It’s been reported that 50% of people who start an exercise program quit after six months. Research indicates that picklers keep coming back to the court again and again, primarily because the game is fun and social. Pickleball can also improve your well-being: According to another study of picklers age 50 and older, those who were more serious about the sport
tended to be more satisfied with their lives. Pickleball fosters a strong sense of community and camaraderie among its aficionados.