While Merriam-Webster foolishly chose “gaslighting” as the word of the year, I like my choice better: pickleball.
The three-syllable noun defined my 2022. I started with the sport in March, yet it feels much longer, and that’s a good thing!
I set a goal to play the sport with minimal expectations. But I fell in love; all-consuming love!
So, in the style of Spotify Wrapped, here’s a look at the pickleball numbers that defined me in 2022.
ONE: I was in the top 1% of people who spent their time playing pickleball and wore a Whoop band to track their exercise. I was tracked playing 79 times for a total of 123 hours, burning somewhere in the ballpark of 61,000 calories.
TWO: This was the year I proudly became a USA Pickleball Ambassador and a PPR-certified coach.
THREE: I participated in three lessons and clinics this year. I started with a one-on-one class at my local tennis center to better understand the sport. From there, I attended an APP Academy at Pickle N’ Par with Zane Navratil and Frank Anthony Davis followed by an Engage Pickleball Camp with Stephane Jolicouer and Jose Derisi.
FOUR: I played in four doubles tournaments in 2022, three run by LI Kick and one by The World Pickleball Association. I racked up a bronze and silver medal and closed the year with two golds. Thank you to my partners! Speaking of “four,” I need to challenge myself next year with a 4.0 tourney!
NINE: Throughout the year, I played in nine different leagues, resulting in meeting countless awesome people.
SEVENTEEN: Between Alley Pond Tennis Center and Carefree in Merrick, I participated in 17 open play sessions, each making me a better player.
THIRTY-SIX: The dollars of revenue generated from the blog. Plus two cents.
FIFTY-SEVEN: The percentage of points I won during my 16-week Monday night league. This is where I played too nice.
TWO-HUNDRED SEVENTEEN: The number of games I played during my Wednesday night league, going 143 – 74.
TWO-THOUSAND THREE-HUNDRED THIRTEEN: The number of users to visit Pickleball Rookie since I launched the blog in May.
A LOT: The amount of money I spent on pickleball equipment, gear and court time.
Pickleball proudly defined my year, and I am excited to continue my journey in 2023. Thanks to all who supported my effort. The best is yet to come!
2023 Pickleball Goals
- Play at least 120 times, a 20%+ increase over my first year playing (which started in March!)
- Play in a 4.0 tournament
- Introduce other means of exercise into my routine; 2022 saw me abandon biking, running, and other exercise opportunities for pickleball. The sport helps me burn calories, but I don’t see it doing much for muscle tone.
- Build more compelling pickleball content, including interviews with people from the pickleball universe and pickleball product reviews; challenge myself to reach beyond “text” and experiment with TikTok, YouTube, etc.
- Grow major KPIs such as unique pageviews, organic traffic referrals, search position, and affiliate income.
- Attend a pickleball-related networking event.
- HAVE FUN. Pickleball is a passion project. Win or lose, grow Pickleball Rookie or not, the number one goal is to enjoy the good life. 🙂
2023 Pickleball Predictions
- The past year saw dozens of high-profile celebrities and athletes get in on the action by investing in pickleball teams. I don’t see that trend slowing down, but I wonder if it will adversely impact the sport’s growth. While pickleball’s exposure will continue to grow, so will the haters. For every person who picks up a paddle, how many will write the game off, believing it will crash and burn like a crypto shitcoin? 2023 will be the year we find out if all press is good press.
- Investments will shift from pickleball teams to equipment, facilities and digital utilities. There might be a market to watch the sport professionally, but I need more convincing. However, the game has a high ceiling for long-term recreational play.
- Expect to pay more for court time, especially in my stomping grounds in New York, as I have seen the demand grow exponentially firsthand. I have also seen upward prices for leagues, open plays, and hourly rentals.
- Anything that expands rapidly will experience growing pains. Many of the businesses I’ve encountered in the pickleball space will be under pressure to meet the demands of today’s digitally-savvy consumers. As the game attracts younger players, customer service, reservation systems, and overall communications will need improvement. During my first year, I let many faulty experiences slide since I understand the game’s colossal growth; I do not expect consumers to be as patient in 2023.
- Everyone will look to cash in. Retailers will pump out more fashion, courts will pop up in more places, and there will be more USA Pickleball-approved paddles than ever before.
- Pickleball travel will start to take off, with players basing their hotel, resort and real estate rental choices around the sport.
- Pickleball fashion will continue to work its way into the mainstream; high socks, multi-purpose bags, and accessories will continue to become part of casual athletic wear, on and off of the court.
What are your pickleball predictions and goals for 2023?