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In case you've somehow managed to avoid it thus far, pickleball is a cross between tennis, badminton, and ping-pong.
Played with plastic rackets and something like a whiffle ball on what resembles a scaled-down tennis court, it's gentler than tennis and more accessible for beginners. It also stokes frenzied competition.
How do I know? Two decades ago my dad moved into a house with a pickleball court. Technically the court was on a municipal utility easement that abutted the property, but there it stood, singularly attached to Dad's backyard.
Forecasting a trend that's now inescapable in sports and popular culture, he quickly became obsessed. Gone were his tennis days, but you couldn't set foot in the house without a challenge and a match. He even hung posters around the neighborhood offering free pickleball lessons until his wife made him take them down.
Gadget makers have been quick to take notice. ZDNET's Matthew Miller and Sean Jackson recently included two Garmin watch models, the Fenix 7X and the Epix (Gen 2), with Pickleball enhancements in their best sports watch head-to-head.
So which states are most obsessed? Selkirk, a pickleball equipment brand, analyzed geographical data from Google Trends across all 50 states for terms including "pickleball", "what is pickleball?", "pickleball rules", and "pickleball lessons". Each state was then given a total search score out of 400 to establish which state was the most interested in pickleball.
Not surprisingly, states known as retirement destinations scored high. While not exclusive to any one demographic, Pickleball has been popular with an older crowd as a form of competitive exercise that's easy on the body. Retirees presumably have more free time, as well.
Second place in the search history analysis is Arizona, with a total search score of 274. In particular, Arizona is the state that has searched for "pickleball lessons" the most in the past five years. The state third most interested in pickleball, based on Google searches, is Florida, with a total search score of 222.
Colorado followed close behind as the state fourth most interested, with a total search score of 214. Coloradans searched for "pickleball" at the second highest rate of any state and "pickleball rules" at the fourth highest rate.
Which state is the most pickleball-curious? That honor goes to Utah, whose search for terms "pickleball" and "what is pickleball" earned a whopping 347 search score. Selkirk did a quick reference and believes Utah's 178 pickleball courts rank as the 25th highest number of any geographical area in the world.
How did my dad's state rank? Sadly, California didn't even crack the top 10. Although maybe that's because Dad's pickleball proselytizing worked after all and residents are too busy playing to sit at a computer.