May 1, 2023

Canadian pickleball courts see more women, more younger adults, and more competition

Pickleball Canada once again commissioned the same national research company as we had done in recent years, to survey more than 2,000 Canadian households on household participation in various sports, including pickleball, soccer, hockey, tennis and golf.

The survey, conducted in January 2023, asked each household questions regarding:

  • How often they play pickleball
  • Why they play pickleball
  • Where they play pickleball

The survey results illustrate the continuous growth and changing face of pickleball in Canada.

11% of Canadian households now report at least one household member plays pickleball at least once per month. By extrapolating the data, this indicates that more than 1.37 million individual Canadians now play pickleball at least once per month, with more than half playing four or more times per month. In January of 2022, it was estimated that there were just over 1 million Canadians playing pickleball.

While the results showed a modest increase in the participation of men over that twelve-month period, it showed almost a 50% increase in the number of Canadian women playing pickleball.

Pickleball remains popular among older adults, but the growth in numbers is coming from younger adults – particularly those aged 18 to 34.

While participation by university and other post-secondary graduates remains steady on Canadian pickleball courts, the survey results show a nearly 50% increase in participation among high school graduates, and nearly a 70% increase among those with less than a high school education.  Although the survey did not explicitly ask the ages of household members playing pickleball, we can surmise that many of those new players hitting the pickleball courts are under the age of 18.  This surmisal makes sense given the growing number of youth pickleball initiatives popping up nationwide in schools, sports clubs, and in summer camps.

Overall, Canadians say they are still playing pickleball because its fun, its social, and for its health and fitness benefits.   Interestingly though, there was a significant increase in the number of Canadians playing pickleball for the competition within the game (27% in January 2023, compared to just 18% in January 2022).   That growth in competitive spirit on the courts was all attributable to women, for whom there was a 170% increase in competition being a key driver for playing pickleball.

Given the growing number of tournaments each year (including those sanctioned by Pickleball Canada), this desire for competition is not a surprise to Canada’s national governing body for the sport.

The number of Canadians with a Pickleball Canada membership rose by 60% between the end of 2021 (28,000) and the end of 2022 (46,000), due in part to the strong affiliation model between local pickleball clubs, their provincial/territorial association, and the national organization.

Through the power of numbers, individual Canadians and affiliated organizations, through Pickleball Canada, receive benefit from access to:

  • A comprehensive package of insurance products;
  • a National Coaching Certification Program;
  • a national program for accreditation of officials;
  • preferred pricing for software tools (for tournaments, pickleball programs, etc.); and
  • Canadian Tournament Player Ratings (CTPR).

The trends we see in the recent survey and in Canadian communities in all provinces and territories tell us that pickleball is truly taking its place in the mainstream of Canadian life, with many households fully integrating into their regular fitness activities.

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