Treadworld Champions Pickleball
Why Treadworld.com Is Championing Pickleball
Treadworld Advocates for Pickleball in Several Ways
Pickleball’s Popularity Continues to Skyrocket
So WHY Does the Growth of Pickleball Continue to Be a Tidal Wave?
Is Pickleball Difficult to Play?
Chad’s Experience at the 2023 U.S. Pickleball Open
In retrospect, it’s not surprising that Treadworld.com has joined other major corporations as a big advocate for the game of pickleball. The 47-year-old company doesn’t sell pickleball equipment—rather it has gained a national reputation by offering the world’s finest trailer tires, ATV tires and UTV tires, , agriculture tires, forklift tires, lawn and garden tires, skid steer tires, trailer tires and more, along with wheels and assemblies. So pickleball’s meteoric rise in popularity doesn’t directly benefit the Minnesota company’s bottom line. Rather the affinity for the sport comes from Treadworld’s philosophy of social responsibility. And, when you consider the Minnesota company’s product lines are all about supporting customers quests to achieve their work and recreational goals, it seems like a natural fit.
Joining many major companies like IBM, Facebook, Deloitte, and Google that support, encourage and promote employees’ health and well-being—even specifically calling out the virtues of pickleball as a behavior leading to fitness—Treadworld.com too has employee wellness initiatives aimed at encouraging and helping employees to take care of themselves in various ways. And pickleball has proven itself to be a game that has many positive effects relating to fitness and health, engagement, team building, and a sense of community. So, the company is doing what it can to support the growth of pickleball—including sponsoring pickleball players like Brent Waiwaiole and Chad Isaacs, who just received the silver medal in the 2023 U.S. Pickleball Open held in April.
Combining elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, pickleball has grown an average of 158.6% over the last three years, according to a recent report by the Sports & Fitness Association. In addition, the Association of Pickleball Professionals estimates there are currently 36.5 million pickleball players in the U.S., that 14% of all Americans have played pickleball at least once, and that 8.5 million people have played eight times or more. Plus, surveys indicate that 45% of pickleball players say they plan to play more in the next six months than they did during the previous six months. Today pickleball is enjoyed in every state in the U.S., as well as in 60 countries around the world.
It appears pickleball is here to stay.
The game was born in 1965, invented by three Dads looking to solve their kids’ boredom. It originally won a following in retirement communities, then expanded its appeal during the pandemic as people looked for safe, socially distanced ways to exercise outside. Estimates today are that players 18-34 make up the largest percentage of pickleball players, 28.8% nationwide.
While some strength, endurance, balance and coordination are helpful, most beginners find pickleball easy to play and learn, thanks in large part to the fact that the smaller-than-tennis court size of pickleball courts makes it easier to cover the ground, pickleball paddles or pickleball racquets are lighter than tennis rackets, and the pickle ball is also lighter and slower than other racquet sport balls, making it easier to control and hit over the pickleball net, in order to get rallies going. In addition, the basic pickleball rules are simple and easy to understand.
Pickleballer Chad Isaacs, the recipient of a Treadworld.com pickleball sponsorship, commented that pickleball games “can be a good option for anyone, including people who may be somewhat limited physically, or that have injuries that make playing other sports more challenging.”
Pickleball is accessible and relatively inexpensive compared to several other racquet sports. Only basic pickleball gear is required. Pickleball balls and pickleball paddles are not expensive, and many parks and recreation centers offer free or low-cost court time. According to the U.S. Pickleball Association, there are currently 35,000 outdoor and indoor pickleball courts, across 9,000 U.S. locations, with more courts being built at a record pace.
“Every player can set their own level of commitment to the game,” Chad says, which for him means meeting up with a group of friends before work, after work or on Saturdays, and playing in a few tournaments a year. “People can play casually as a social activity or more competitively as a sport.”
The game is also inclusive. It’s a low-impact sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and all skill levels. “It was actually my mother-in-law that got me into the game,” Chad says. “She told me she thought I’d be good at it because I have some athleticism and pretty good eye-hand coordination. Playing the game re-awakened some sporting instincts that I enjoyed earlier in my life when I regularly played tennis, soccer, volleyball, basketball, along with some serious cycling.”
Many players point to other pickleball benefits as the source of the game’s appeal. Physical perks include improved cardiovascular fitness, since the game involves a lot of movement and can be a good form of aerobic exercise, while not putting a lot of stress on the joints.
The game’s mental health benefits are also very real, and pickleball is proving to be a good way to help keep one’s mind sharp thanks to a focus on quick decisions and pickleball strategy during gameplay. Exercise, which pickleball provides, has been shown to improve cognitive function by helping improve reaction time and decision-making skills—reducing the risk of decline and leading to improved mental clarity, memory and overall mental health. Pickleball can be a good distraction from negative thoughts, plus can lead to improved confidence. And, as Chad pointed out, “pickleball is also a great way to relieve stress,” by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, leading to a more relaxed, positive mood.
Additionally, many, like Chad, appreciate pickleball for its social aspects, and the sense of community it provides—which can help alleviate feelings of loneliness or social isolation. “Pickleball is a great way to meet new people and make new friends while getting some exercise,” he said. “In fact, I’d say I’ve met in excess of 100 new friends since I began playing pickleball in the spring of 2020.”
Pickleball can be played indoors or outdoors, between two or four players. A standard pickleball court is about two-thirds smaller than a standard tennis court, and is about the size of a doubles badminton court. Two (singles) or four (doubles) players volley a perforated hollow plastic pickleball over a 36-inch high pickleball net until one side commits an infraction. Pickleballs used on indoor pickleball courts have fewer (26) and larger holes than the pickleballs used on outdoor courts, which have 40 holes. Most games in pickleball are played to 11 points (win by 2), although some pickleball games in tournament settings may be played to 15 points (win by 2) or 21 points (win by 2). Points are scored in a pickleball game only when a team is serving.
More than just another pickleball tournament, the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships are an immersive experience for the 35,000 attendees and nearly 3,000 participants—a week-long event featuring multiple divisions for players of all ages and skill levels. The tournament includes singles, doubles, and mixed doubles competitions, with different age brackets and skill levels for each division—and also includes a pro division, which features some of the world’s best pickleball players competing for prize money and recognition. Chad and his partner Lawrence Casey won the silver medal in the men’s age 40+ doubles division.
Chad described the experience as being “electric” not just among the many Minnesotans who attended, but among the fans and players from all across the country.
“There was a huge buzz in the air thanks to all the people rooting for each other,” he said, continuing, “the level of competition was high because being there meant a lot to all the players, leading them to give their all in an effort to reach the podium at the end of the tourney.”
Is it tough to be a pickleball player in Minnesota—considering that the state experiences snow during many, causing residents to joke that “summer in Minnesota is the best day of the year.”
“Not at all,” Chad said. “In fact, Minnesota probably has a disproportionate share of good pickleball players, which may seem odd considering the weather, but in my experience, Minnesotans have really embraced the sport. As a result, the competition is fierce, which helps everyone get better.
“It’s easy for anyone to get started in pickleball,” Chad said. “Just google ‘pickleball near me,’ get the basic equipment at your local sporting goods store, and you’re ready to play.”
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