Combining elements of tennis, squash, and badminton, these non-traditional sports are growing in popularity, with Britons snapping up specialist rackets, paddles, and balls.
The Sports Retailer Decathlon Reports High Demand
According to Decathlon, one of the leading sports retailers in the UK, the demand for padel rackets, balls, and accessories is skyrocketing, as is the interest in pickleball.
Decathlon has even developed its own paddles to meet the growing demand for these sports.
In its inaugural UK sports trends report, Decathlon highlights the rise of these non-traditional sports as one of the main themes.
Padel: The Hybrid of Squash and Tennis
Padel is a hybrid of squash and tennis that uses a perforated fibreglass or graphite racket instead of one with strings.
Decathlon alone sold 2,500 padel rackets last year, and it now offers a choice of 100 rackets to suit different budgets.
The cheapest option is the store’s own brand, Kuikma, which costs £30, while the most expensive is an Adidas racket that costs up to £300.
Ross Farrington, Decathlon’s commercial director, believes that padel has the potential to become the next big UK participation sport.
“In Spain, Sweden, and Portugal, they’ve got more people playing padel than tennis,” he says.
“With tennis, it takes quite a long time to get to a level where you can have a good game, but with padel, you can pick it up quite quickly, and the walls mean there is less running after the ball.”
We have more padel statistics for you here.
Pickleball: A Cross Between Tennis, Badminton, and Ping Pong
Pickleball is a cross between tennis, badminton, and ping pong that is played with paddles that look like outsize table-tennis bats and a light plastic ball.
The sport is less established in the UK, but it is the fastest-growing sport on the other side of the Atlantic, with nearly 5 million US players, including celebrities such as Friends star Matthew Perry and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Jane McGuire, owner of UK Pickleball Shop, says that sales of paddles, pickleballs, and nets are “going up and up.”
The store has played a significant role in the sport’s development, as it has given UK players access to the top-quality equipment that is used in the US.
A starter paddle costs £15, but it is also possible to spend £250.
The Future of Padel and Pickleball in the UK
While padel and pickleball are still relatively new sports in the UK, they are rapidly gaining popularity, and the future looks bright.
Farrington estimates that around 10,000 people are playing padel regularly, but he believes that the sport could become as popular as tennis, which is played by 4 million people in the UK.
Pickleball England is also aiming for 25,000 members by 2025, which suggests that the sport’s popularity is set to grow even further in the coming years.
So if you’re looking for a new way to stay active and have some fun, why not give padel or pickleball a try?
Who knows, you might just discover your new favourite sport.