The 2023 Pickleball Business Forum was hosted at Brookhaven Country Club on Tuesday in conjunction with the USA Pickleball National Championships.
It focused primarily on what the future of America’s fastest-growing sport will look like from a business, marketing, and financial point of view.
The event included five panels featuring media leaders, marketing executives, and even a couple of celebrities.
Panelists provided attendees with an inside look into all things pickleball, from the technical aspects of designing and creating the latest paddle to a deep dive on the evolving media landscape of content creation.
“Pickleball is sort of everything that the consumer wants and needs,” said Anne Worcester, strategic advisor with Major League Pickleball. “It’s social, it’s all for all ages, all genders, all income levels, all athletic abilities. It’s so egalitarian.”
“It’s explosive in its ability to attract people. Get anyone out there on the court and they want to play,” added Ken Solomon, CEO of The Tennis Channel.
The plans for pickleball and technology to join forces are exciting as well. The Tennis Channel launched PickleballTV, which will cover pickleball 24/7, 365 days a year – with the goal of spreading the love of the sport to an increasingly international audience.
Pro players like Ben Johns are also working with paddle companies to revolutionize the pickleball paddle by experimenting with different materials, shapes, and designs.
“We’re at a fairly basic level of technology right now,” said Johns. “We’re going to see advancement in every aspect of pickleball with the paddle and balls.”
Pickleball is only growing and getting better with every advancement.
Behind the scenes of the business side of things, however, the sport clearly reflects the community and camaraderie amateur players experience on the court.
“More so than any other sport or community of business I’ve been involved with, this is the most inclusive community. There’s always opportunities and there’s also an endless stream of growth coming,” said Zubin Mehta, co-founder of Good Alpha and owner of Maddrops Pickleball Club. “It’s a place that doesn’t feel like work because the people who are in it really love it.”
A common theme throughout the panels was a celebration of the next generation of players.
“In my area, there’s kids who are doing their schoolwork at the pickleball courts because they want to grow up and become pickleball pros,” shared Tyson Apostle, a four-time Survivor contestant turned pickleball influencer. “Those kids and teenagers out on the courts are going to be the next great pickleball players.”
“Right now, there’s athletes coming over from tennis and other backgrounds, but in a few years, the pro athletes in pickleball will only be from pickleball,” added renowned broadcaster Dave Fleming.
“The sport is getting younger,” said Kaitlyn Kerr, known as @pickleball.chick on Instagram.
There’s no denying pickleball’s remarkable upward trajectory – and this is only the beginning.
“If anyone feels like they’re late to the game, you’re not,” said Jason Aspes, co-founder of The Kitchen. “It’s going to boom and we haven’t even scratched the surface on this.”
Even Brookhaven formally changed its name to include “Racket Club” in its title to better advertise its pickleball courts.
If there’s one takeaway, it’s that pickleball’s future is incredibly bright.
Watch the full Pickleball Business Forum streamed on YouTube here.