Pickleball: the future of racket sports?

“It’s kind of a strange name,”

Scott Moore tells me over a google hangout, “but, pickleball is absolutely the most strategic sport I’ve ever played.”

Scott is something of a legend in the pickleball community: 21 time US national champion, 13 time US Open champion, 10 time TOC champion and world #1 since 2014. He’s the Roger Federer of pickleball, though he’d never admit to it.

“I have some records that will never be broken. It’s fun to have that kind of legacy,” he tells me with a sense of pride and humility at the same time.

Scott started his athletic career as a ranked junior tennis player in Texas. He tried to walk on at the University of Texas, but was the last man cut and didn’t make the team. Forever a fan of all racket and paddle sports, he transitioned to badminton and played competitively for 10 years in Japan while intermixing games of squash, racketball, table tennis and any other sport involving a racket.

Until one day, just over 10 years ago, pickleball found him.

“My youngest son had just graduated college, I was empty nested, and wasn’t sure what I was gonna do,” Scott reminisces, “and a friend of mine said: ‘Hey Scott there’s this new racket sport called pickleball and I want you to come play.”

Little did he know this simple invite was about to forever change his entire life.

“After that game in 2011, I kept playing and playing until a year and half later I ended up at a national tournament in 2013,” he tells me, “and I won a silver medal in the top division of 50+ [years old]. I was totally, absolutely hooked.”

Courtesy ppatour.com

After that tournament, Scott realized he could fulfill one of his lifetime goals: to be a national champion in an internationally competitive sport. He immediately dedicated his spare time away from being an entrepreneur to becoming the best pickleball player he could be.

“I realized this is the only time in my life I could be a national champion. I started training and in 2014 my oldest son and I won the national championship together; top players in the world in our age groups.” Now 8 years later, his son has won 10 majors and Scott has won over 40.

And there’s little sign of him slowing.

“I’ve been playing for 10 years and I’m 60, yet I’m playing some of the best pickleball of my life because I understand the game more,” he explains, “You can get better with age, which no other racket sport can you do that. The other ones are speed and power, pickleball is finesse and strategy.”

Surprisingly to me, pickleball originated in 1965, but it wasn’t until the last decade when it finally took off in popularity. With more than 5 million players internationally registered and now growing at nearly 1 million players per year, there’s much more on the horizon for the sport.

“Rumor has it that it’s going to be a demonstration sport at the olympics in Los Angeles in 2028, which will totally change the dynamic of it,” Scott explains, “the number of players will triple in a year or two if that happens.”

The PickleballTrips group in Thailand growing the sport.

With money beginning to flood into the sport from corporate sponsors and billionaire investors, the number of tournaments that are scheduled across the US is nothing short of mind-blowing. Their vision? 40 million pickleball players worldwide by 2030. Leading this charge are companies like PickleballTrips (owned and operated by Scott’s two sons) which are actively promoting and growing the sport around the globe.

“It’s the fastest growing sport in the world and totally addictive. I am addicted. Be careful if you start,” Scott warns me with a grin.

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