You already know: pickleball is America’s fastest growing sport. The athletic pastime, a combination of tennis, ping pong, and badminton, is an accessible racquet sport that almost everyone can play, regardless of age or agility, which might account for the explosion of interest in the game, with nearly 5 million Americans now identifying as pickleball players or “picklers.”
For many, the charms of pickleball lie within its approachable sensibility. Pickleball was created in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Wash., by politician Joel Pritchard and his friends Barney McCallum and Bill Bell as a backyard game to entertain their children. By 1976, it had gone from an off-the-cuff leisure-time invention to a sport with an official tournament, with a competition held at the South Center Athletic Club in Tukwila, Wash. And by 1990, pickleball was being played in all 50 states. The sport was always a favorite on the senior-citizen circuit as a form of low-impact exercise, but it has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, thanks in part to a demand for safe and social distance-friendly recreation during the pandemic. A 2022 report from the U.S.A. Pickleball Association found that the number of people playing jumped nearly 40% from 2019 to 2021.
Read more: Why Older People Love Pickleball So Much
The mainstream rise of pickleball can’t be overstated. NBA players LeBron James, Draymond Green, and Kevin Love have all invested in Major League Pickleball. CBS will soon be hosting a celebrity pickleball tournament featuring the likes of Kelly Rowland and Daniel Dae Kim. And this year, the state of Washington adopted pickleball as its official sport. All of which to say, if there were ever a moment to encourage the pickleball hobby of a loved one, that time is definitely now.
While it might seem obvious to give items like paddles, balls, or hip belts to the pickler in your life, there are so many options beyond the basics to consider. To make our list of the best gifts for pickleball lovers, we looked at products from practical yet indulgent items like a portable pickleball net and sharp tennis shorts to accessories that capture the light-hearted spirit of the game, like retro tube socks and a monogrammable tote—all of which will help take your loved one’s enjoyment of the game to the next level.
Here are 10 gifts—ranging from $16 to $399 (as of the time of publication)—to give to pickleball enthusiasts this year.
These classic ribbed tube socks from the Bainbridge Pickleball Club feature a stripe logo and tons of retro appeal. The style of the socks is a throwback to the ’70s country club aesthetic, and the brand’s name is a nod to the birthplace of Pickleball.
Buy now: $16 at Bainbridge Pickleball Club
A comprehensive guide to pickleball
Learn everything you need to know (and then some) about pickleball, from the history of its unorthodox creation on Bainbridge Island to a primer on etiquette and an examination of the current craze for the sport. Erin McHugh’s Pickleball Is Life: The Complete Guide to Feeding Your Obsession is a charming and comprehensive guide to the popular pastime.
A paddle for kids
For the tiny pickleball enthusiast in your life, consider this pint-sized paddle from Recess. The junior composite paddle has a sturdy fiberglass surface, a lightweight honeycomb core, and a handle made for little hands, so fun on the court can start at any age.
Monogramming something always feels special, which is why these bespoke balls will be a hit with the biggest pickleball devotee in your life. Not only does personalization give the balls a cool custom touch, but it’ll also make it that much easier to claim stray balls on the court—and make scoring that much more satisfying when the winning point has your loved one’s name on it.
Buy now: $59 at Etsy
Polo and shorts
Price: $128 – $138
Italian tennis champion Sergio Tacchini created his eponymous sportswear brand to offer a stylish alternative to tennis whites while still providing technical quality; now, the line is beloved by streetwear enthusiasts and tennis players alike. The brand’s current collaboration with Union Los Angeles has resulted in a collection of basics that look just as good off the court as they do on it. This polo and short combo would make for a winning look on any pickler.
For the pickleball lover in your life who’s also a lover of accessories, look no further than this playful charm necklace from Studio Margaret. Plated in 18k gold, each necklace features a dainty pickleball charm inlaid with cubic zirconia and enamel and accompanied by a tiny ball.
Buy now: $140 at Studio Margaret
Pickleball tote bag
Your pickleball-playing friend can transport paddles and balls in style with this tote from Tangerine. Made of durable canvas and cotton twill with a water resistant mesh interior, the bag also features brass hardware and a handy sidecar for storing two paddles. You can even have it monogrammed.
Buy now: $155 at Tangerine
Portable pickleball net system
Pickleball can go wherever your loved one’s heart desires with this portable net from Wilson. Complete with netting, collapsible legs, and a storage bag, this set is USAPA approved and perfect for keeping the competition in swing, even on the go.
The tennis dress gets a sweet update in this athletic but stylish offering from cult swimwear brand Marysia’s first sport collection. The dress features a cross back, Marysia’s signature scallop detailing, and matching shorts, all in sweat-wicking fabric.
Buy now: $399 at Marysia
Trip to play on Bainbridge Island
What better way to indulge your favorite pickler than with a trek to Bainbridge Island, the birthplace of the sport? Located a short 35-minute ferry ride from Seattle, this small city, dubbed the “jewel of Puget Sound,” has no shortage of diversions to experience, from beaches and parks to trails and wineries. But for a pickleball devotee, the chance to play at the Battle Point Park Founders Pickleball Courts may be enough of an attraction. Consider planning a visit for August, when the annual founders’ tournament is held.
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