Pickleball’s popularity continues to grow despite rise in injuries

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Pickleball it’s a sport that continues to grow in popularity as people of all ages are playing. It’s a combination of tennis, and ping pong.

As News10NBC finds out pickleball has great health benefits, but could also land you at the doctor’s office for certain injuries. Right now pickleball courts are a popular place to be for both competitions and socializing.

“Oh, I love it. One of my favorite things,” said Lynn Schilling-Benz of Fairport.

It’s a sport that transcends most age groups and different levels of experience. For years now pickleball has quietly built a loyal following of diehard players. The demand for more pickleball courts is so strong, construction has already begun on a 27,000 square foot Fairport Pickleball Club. One of the largest in Monroe County.

“There’s one indoor facility right now,” said General Manager Grace Conklin. She continued, “You know there’s a giant pickleball community here and having more space to play indoors, I think is going to be huge.”

Players like Maureen Meng can’t get enough of the game.

“It makes me feel good and I’m glad that they’re putting a lot more courts in so you don’t have to wait as long,” said Meng.

Like any sport, pickleball does come with its own risks. According to one national report, pickleball injuries are highest for people over 45 years old.

“The only thing I did was I hurt my wrist and my thumb and I think it was because I had a paddle that was too heavy for me. So that’s the only thing I’ve done,” said Schilling-Benz.

Fellow player Andy McCormack added, “I was just out there with a basketball shoe and that didn’t help me at all. So, once I got court shoes that support the lateral movement, then it made a difference in my ankle support and my feet stopped hurting. So that made a difference.”

Doctors like Rochester Regional Health’s Daniel Day specialize in sports injuries. They’re seeing a lot more sprains, strains and even some fractures associated with playing pickleball.

“Folks come in and they’re not necessarily in shape anymore,” said Day. He continued by saying, “Maybe they have a little arthritis underlying, so then they start to get active again and then they hurt something or strain something, and then we end up seeing them in the office.”

Day goes on to say what’s important about pickleball if played correctly, the benefits outweigh the risk of injuries.

“Yeah, you can break it down and put a negative spin on it, but at the same token, it gets people moving and there’s ways to reduce injury and I think that’s what’s it all about,” said Day.

The Fairport Pickleball Club is expected to open in the fall. Once opened it will feature 10 climate-controlled courts for open play, leagues and tournaments.