According to CNBC, pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America, with over 4.8 million people playing the game. By 2030, pickleball is projected to have roughly 40 millions players across the globe. Pickleball is described as a mix between tennis, badminton, and ping-pong – and it’s incredibly fun. It’s no wonder why so many celebrities — like the Kardashians, Tom Brady, and LeBron James — are getting involved in the sport. We’ve got you covered on everything you need to know about pickleball and where you can play at local courts in Essex County. Read on to learn more about the fastest-growing sport in America as well as where to play pickleball in Essex County.
History of Pickleball
The first pickleball game was played in Washington State on Bainbridge Island in 1965. After a round of golf, Joel Pritchard, congressman from Washington, and Bill Bell, a successful businessman, headed to Pritchard’s home to find their families had nothing to do. There was an old badminton court on the property, however there was no equipment. The two improvised with ping pong paddles and a plastic ball and played around with the net size. Eventually, after several weeks and with the help of another friend, Barney McCallum, pickleball was born.
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Pickleball picked up in popularity in the 21st century. In 2005, the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) was established and the first USAPA webpage went live that March. In 2021, the USAPA reached over 50,000 members, a 43% increase from the previous year and the largest single year growth since its founding.
Pickleball is described as a mixture of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. A pickleball court is approximately the size of a doubles badminton court but smaller than a tennis court, while the net height is 34 inches at the ends. Pickleball can be played as a singles or doubles game. To review the official rules of the game, we recommend learning through the USAPA website, here.
Where to Play in Essex County
Brookdale Park Tennis Center | W Circuit Drive, Montclair
The Tennis Center at Brookdale Park has been managed by Elite Tennis Academy since 1982. The Brookdale Park Tennis Center features six pickleball courts that require a reservation to play. To book a time-slot, you can call the center at (973) 744-7060.
Heritage Middle School | 20 Foxcroft Drive, Livingston
Heritage Middle School in Livingston offers six pickleball courts and registration is required to play. Registered individuals can reserve courts for 1 hour and 15 mins per day from 9AM to dusk. When school is in session, the hours are 3:15PM to dusk. For more information on registration, you can visit the township website.
Little Falls Sports & Recreation Complex | 160 Paterson Avenue, Little Falls
The Sports and Recreation Complex in Little Falls features both indoor and outdoor pickleball courts. In order to play on the courts, a badge is required. Badges are available for purchase at the complex. For more information, you can visit the Little Falls Sports & Recreation Complex, or call at (973) 265-3884.
Memorial Park | 231 Belleville Avenue, Bloomfield
Bloomfield Township unveiled four brand new pickleball courts last September. The courts run on a first-come, first-served basis and are limited to a one-hour time constraint. If no one is waiting to use the courts, pickleball players may use them for up to 90 minutes. The park is open from sunrise to sunset.
Montclair Beach Club | 725 Grove Street, Clifton
Okay –you caught us! This one is not technically in Essex County, but since it’s so close to the Montclair community, we decided to include it anyway. The Montclair Beach Club is a private, family-owned swim club that has been operating since 1931. The Montclair Beach club features two pickleball courts and a variety of other amenities that are available to all members. For more information on membership and pricing, visit their website.
Montclair Pickleball | Serving the Greater Montclair Area
Montclair Pickleball aims to serve and grow the local pickleball community by providing coaching and competition for players of all ages and levels. Montclair Pickleball offers adult and kid clinics, open play, private and group lessons, and tournaments. For more information, you can visit their website.
Pickleball Palace at West Orange Tennis Club | 1448 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange
The West Orange Tennis Club offers both indoor and outdoor pickleball courts – which is a great option for the winter season. The pickleball courts are managed by Pickleball Palace, a woman-owned pickleball organization, that offers lessons, clinics, leagues, parties, corporate events and open plays. For more information, visit their website.