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January 4, 2043

Pickleball  In West LA : Summary of Main Issues

This report presents original survey data on the personal and social benefits of pickleball. It was  gathered to persuade Los Angeles to provide facilities for a sport which has grown nationwide by 11% per annum since  2011, and by 21% from 2019-2020.  Pickleball already thrives in smaller cities bordering L.A. including San Diego. Unlike the existing amenities of  LA parks, this gender neutral sport is highly attractive to seniors, male and female ( 60+ yrs)  who attend regular open play morning sessions, the off peak period for park visits.  Independent research has exposed the continuing failure of LA parks to attract visits from females and seniors, pickleball helps to reduce this deficit and has been singled out by independent researchers and policy experts as an ideal recreation for exactly this purpose.  

A 2 hour session of pickleball 2-3 times per week meets the C.D.C  definition of moderatelyvigorous activity for maintaining physical fitness and improving psychological wellness. Yet pickleball is actually forbidden on existing LA tennis courts by rigid rules which enforce a tennis only policy. Even a simple rule change promoting flexible use of public courts would make a difference.  If this is all it takes surely the time has come for elected council members to step in and subject current recreational policies to rigorous scrutiny to remove what is in effect: age and gender discrimination.

Pickleball is an easy to learn racquet sport played on a badminton size court (20’ x 44’) with lightweight paddles and balls making it especially appropriate  for children and seniors. 60% of West LA players are current or former tennis players who find, in the small court and lightweight equipment, the means to continue exercising  their recreational skills with less risk of physical stress and injury. It is also a pick-up sport where players  can turn up at will and find a game. Participation is effortless, with no demand on park staff  or resources other than access to paved court space.  Players supply their own nets.

Pickleball is 8 times more economically efficient than tennis.  One tennis court used for singles, converts to 4 PB courts allowing 16 players to participate in 4 sets of doubles. Conversion is a quick, easy, low budget expense, involving only the addition of PB lines on an existing court surface which makes it available to either sport. The permanent tennis net acts as barrier to errant balls.

Recreational planners throughout California, alert to the needs and preferences of local residents have successfully converted dozens of tennis courts for this sensational new sport simultaneously expanding rates of recreational participation and draw in more seniors. The city of LA which has turned away virtually every request or appeal from resident pickle-ballers,  is the  ‘odd man out which is why West L.A. players depend on Santa Monica’s  Rec. Centers where demand now greatly exceeds supply.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) recognizes an important role for public parks as places for the continual regeneration of  ‘know your neighbor social capital’.  In 2018, they reported with approval a 69% national increase in pickleball courts, the largest new investment in municipal recreational amenities that year.  Pickleball is a perfect fit for the TPL movement.  ‘The most social sport I have ever experienced’ is how many players describe their entry into the pickleball community whose solidarity is sustained by open play sessions, volunteer support and shared equipment. This is the local community at work directly organizing their own recreation, fostering social cohesion at the same time.  It is vital that these basic organizational features of the sport  are carried over when the sport becomes a recreational amenity in the LA public park system. It is hoped that the LA chapter of the TPL will  study our report and use its good offices to help us increase access to this joyful sport in the city of LA.

Results of Research on Pickleball: Resources
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