If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. A phrase used when stress increases. Some flourish under the pressure, others crumble.
In America’s A-list sport of pickleball, an area called the kitchen is crucial. The Kardashians, Clooneys and Leonardo DiCaprio have all started exchanging shots in there – a zone on the field where volleys are prohibited.
They are all pickleball enthusiasts. The fast-growing racquet sport has swept the United States — and the acceleration doesn’t look like burnout.
Pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong. Played on a smaller court than tennis, with players serving and returning a holed ball with slightly larger and heavier bats than table tennis.
Tom Brady, LeBron James and recently crowned Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes are just a few of the star names that have all invested in the ever-expanding game.
NFL legend Tom Brady (left) and NBA star LeBron James (right) have both invested in pickleball
The racquet sport continues to grow and become more and more popular in the United States
Tennis stars Nick Kyrgios and Naomi Osaka are co-owners of Miami Pickleball Club
Football season is already over for a year, the relentless NBA circus continues to spin as baseball players get back in the mood. While the popularity of pickleball is increasing.
Basketball superstar James, known for his sports portfolio, was one of the first notable figures to spend some money on a professional pickleball team. NBA stars Kevin Love and Draymond Green joined his venture.
Weeks later, now-retired NFL legend Brady announced that he was part of a Major League Pickleball (MLP) expansion club ownership group alongside tennis star Kim Clijsters.
Just days later, NBA sensation Kevin Durant was next to reveal his investment in owning an MLP expansion team. Major League Pickleball is home to the sport’s premier league, involving 24 teams – just launched this year.
The interest in celebrity circles does not end there. Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx wanted to be a part of it and created his own paddle to sell, capitalizing on demand.
Reality kings the Kardashians, George and Amal Clooney, DiCaprio, Stephen Colbert and Bill Gates are also admirers.
The billionaire founder of Microsoft was actually ahead of the trend. The 67-year-old posted a video explaining the rules on social media with the caption: ’50 years ago I started playing this little known sport with a funny name. Now it’s all the rage.’
Australia’s polarizing tennis star Nick Kyrgios is also a fan, standing up for James and Durant in an argument after former Australian doubles champion Rennae Stubbs berated athletes investing in the sport.
Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx got in on the action by making and selling his own paddle
Kyrgios and Naomi Osaka have shown their support by becoming co-owners of Miami Pickleball Club.
Tennis pros Jon Neeter and Julio Rivera have spent more than $250,000 in recent weeks on a new pickleball facility in Los Angeles, California.
Britney Spears, Matt Damon, Owen Wilson, Christian Bale, Michael Keaton, Dustin Hoffman and Blake Griffin made up the star-studded guest list.
“Many people are afraid of missing out,” Neeter told WhatsNew2Day.com when asked why he thinks there is so much interest in pickleball.
The LA Santa Monica Pickleball Center has sold about 1,300 tennis rackets in 10 years, but has already sold 700 pickleball paddles since November.
As Gates said, the sport is not a new phenomenon.
Created by three fathers vacationing on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, looking for entertainment for their family. They combined a net, initially the height of a badminton net, table tennis bats and a perforated ball to create a game in 1965.
But it became all the rage, not just a fad, during the COVID-19 pandemic when the sport “blew up,” according to Melissa Zhang, USA Pickleball.
George and Amal Clooney are among the celebrities who have developed an interest in the sport
Its accessibility makes it attractive with little to no cost, while all ages can grab a paddle and give it a go.
“It’s a sport for everyone,” Zhang told WhatsNew2Day.com. “Grandparents can play with grandchildren and the social aspect attracts a lot of people.”
Neeter revealed that firehouses in Southern California have set up pickleball fields for workers to play during their off time, pointing out that “you could put a temporary net in your driveway.”
The owner of the Santa Monica Pickleball Center also believes the skill level required has helped the sport gain traction.
“You can reach a level of confidence faster and that gives people an instant sense of accomplishment,” he added.
The physical demands are much less, too, as Neeter explains that former NFL players “whose bodies have been beaten up” have turned to the sport to stay active.
“A sense of inclusiveness only accelerates growth and demand.”
Obsession with the sport is real with over 36.5 million Americans doing it by 2022.
Zhang believes the game’s “quirky” name and nature also helped. The kitchen certainly has more intrigue than a non-volley area.
It is a two-meter zone on either side of the net where players cannot volley the ball to avoid hitting the ball straight into the net.
The kitchen boundary line is a dominant position, especially in the game’s doubles, with players at the front of the court.
Players can enter the kitchen, but must bounce the ball before answering a shot.
The temptation to hit a ball in the air is there, similar to the urge to want to enter a kitchen full of delicious food.
There is some resistance to the rise of pickleball with conflicts over using tennis courts and children’s playgrounds to play it, but with the amount of money pumped into it and high-profile stars publishing it, it is gaining momentum.
There is a chance that it will appear in the Olympics one day. A sweet taste for those behind it.