How Expensive Is The Pickleball Hobby?

Barrett Kincheloe article, Basics, Gear 1 Comment

Pickleball is an amazing hobby to get into. It’s fun, social and can be a good source of exercise. But one of the primary concerns of pending pickleball acolytes is whether or not the costs of playing pickleball are reasonable. I understand. Some hobbies can be so expensive that they become cost prohibitive.

Today, I’m going to talk to you about the costs of playing pickleball both for starting the sport and keeping up with it. If you’re completely new to pickleball, or you’re just now learning about it, I’ve developed this website for people like you. If you’d like to get started in pickleball, head over here to this article. Otherwise, let’s go!

What you will need to get started

I talk about this extensively in the article I linked above, but I want to start with the required items necessary to start pickleball. This way the rest of this article will make more sense. The two items you need to get started playing pickleball are a pickleball paddle and a pair of shoes.

A pickleball paddle

The pickleball paddle is the tool of our trade. It’s the main piece of equipment that you’ll be concerned with. You will spend a lot of time finding the right paddle for you. It’s also normal to upgrade your paddle 2-3 times or more throughout your time getting into pickleball, but that’s not always the case.

A good pair of shoes

As you’ll learn throughout your pickleball journey, the subject of pickleball shoes is passionately discussed. The discussion mostly surrounds whether or not running shoes are fine to wear on the pickleball courts. You’ll have to make your own decision, however, I strongly recommend that you do not wear running shoes when you go play. Also, any kind of open shoe is unusable in pickleball.

I’ll talk more about this further down the article, but I just wanted to plant this idea in your head before we continue.

Pickleball costs go either way

Here’s the most important thing to understand about pickleball costs: the sport can be as expensive as you want. I know, it’s not a very clear answer, but it’s true. You can easily spend $500 on pickleball, but at the same time, you can also spend absolutely nothing. Obviously, I don’t recommend that you spend nothing, but it can happen. More on that later.

The main point that I want to make here is that pickleball is very flexible. There are some great beginner setups, intermediate setups and of course the more advanced setups. What kind of setup that you go for will be completely dependent on how long you think you’ll be in the sport for.

But if you’re just a beginner, there’s no need to go crazy. Yet.

It’s very affordable

Having said all of this, pickleball is still one of the cheapest sports to get involved with. It’s nowhere near as expensive as something like golf which can easily get into the $1000 range. Not only that but keeping up with the sport isn’t that bad either. In fact, once you buy the things you need, pickleball is extremely cheap to sustain.

You can actually start for nothing

Yes, you read that right. I want to cover this part in case you’re someone that fits in this category. If you’re coming from another racket sport like tennis, badminton, racquetball or whatever else, then you probably already have the proper shoe for the game. Considering this, all you will need is a pickleball paddle. Fortunately, paddles are pretty easy to get a hold of.

You can either borrow one from a friend for a while or even borrow one from an open play location. Some places, like churches and recreational centers, will have cheap paddles available for use. This is a great option for people who aren’t quite sure if they’ll like pickleball. You can just show up, give it a shot then decide from there. But if you do get into pickleball, you will eventually spend some money on a paddle for yourself.

Let’s talk dollar signs

Alright, let’s get into the meat of it. If you’re an absolute beginner, how much is pickleball going to cost for you? The general answer is greater than $130, but less than $300. Again, this is all going to be dependent on whether or not you have shoes and a paddle available.

If you don’t have the right kind of shoe, pickleball you can get a great start in pickleball for around $50. But if you don’t have the right shoes then it will be more expensive.

Pickleball paddles vary quite a bit with costs. In terms of what we see with established manufacturers, the cheapest paddles will be around $50 whereas the most expensive ones will float around $150. If you’re a beginner, there’s no need to go for the $150 option yet. Trust me.

Now, I have seen paddles that are cheaper than $50, but they are typically wooden paddles and the lack of quality just isn’t worth it. Try to stick with something that’s in the ballpark of $50-$80. This will give you the most bang for your hard-earned buck.

Recommendations for upfront purchases

As I mentioned earlier, the only two things you need for pickleball are a paddle and a pair of shoes. I’m going to talk about each category to give you a general idea of what to look for.

Shoes

When it comes to shoes, you can buy either tennis or court shoes. In case you don’t know, court shoes are simply sturdy shoes designed for indoor use on a gymnasium floor. You can use tennis shoes on gymnasium flooring if you want, but court shoes are going to be better.

If you live in a beautiful area with great weather and low wind then you’ll most likely play outside a lot. In that case, you’ll probably be playing on dedicated pickleball courts where tennis shoes will be a great idea.

However, if you live in an area where the weather hates you as much as you hate it, then you’ll most likely play in a gymnasium. In that case, you’ll want to get some court shoes. I have some recommendations on this page if you need some help.

Paddles

Oh boy, my favorite subject! I’m known as “the paddle guy” in my local pickleball community. It’s not surprising since I bring 7-8 paddles with me to the courts. I help people pick their paddles all the time, so you’re in good hands here!

Like I said earlier, a lot of open play locations like recreational centers and churches will have pickleball paddles available for you to use. But this isn’t a guarantee.

However, if you’re looking into getting your own paddle, there are a few that I recommend. The main paddle that I recommend is the Paddletek Phoenix LTE.

This is a lightweight, but fantastic beginner choice. You can head over here to read a full review of the paddle. This paddle is one of the best starter paddles because it’s relatively inexpensive, but still a good quality paddle.

If you have a bit more experience with racket sports, you can start with the Paddletek Element.

This is another great value pick that will last you a long time. You may even choose to not upgrade from this paddle as you grow! But overall, either of these options will work well for you.

Of course, I have a resource available to you if you want more help on pickleball paddles.

Court costs

This is the easy part. Reserving a court isn’t that expensive. Some areas you can even play for free or for very minimal.

For example, the venue I play at most often is a church. They simply ask for donations in order to keep up with the cost of replacing balls. So when I go play I put in a few bucks. If I play twice a week there then I’m looking at about $25 a month. More often you can find places that are even less expensive than that. Some recreational centers are only $5 a month where I live for unlimited play.

So in other words, it’s really cheap! When it comes to the costs of pickleball, court reservation is the last thing that you need to worry about.

The question of upkeep

Now we move on to how much it costs to keep pickleball going.

If the upfront costs of pickleball aren’t that expensive, then certainly the costs of upkeep are high, right?

Wrong!

In terms of upkeep costs, there’s nothing significant on the list beside your paddle and your shoes. As you know, shoes will not last forever. They will eventually need to be replaced. How often you have to change your shoes if going to be up to you, but it will be between 6 months to a year. If your typical court shoe costs anywhere between $80-120, then you can do the math from there.

Pickleball paddles, on the other hand, are much more durable. They don’t wear down nearly as much as shoes do. But the cheaper the paddle, the less likely it is to stay together. If you’re using a paddle with a wood base for the handle, then you run the risk of the hande snapping, but this doesn’t happen very often. The more high-quality paddles will last you for many, many years if treated properly. Just make sure you get a bag to keep them safe.

Paddle upgrades

It can be fun to find new paddles to try. Besides playing, it’s one of my favorite things to do in pickleball. As you play more and progress through pickleball, you may find yourself upgrading your paddle. Depending on what you start with, you might upgrade your paddle 2-3 times throughout your career. After that, you might replace the paddle every 1-2 years. This is what I see the most often.

If you don’t like the paddle you bought, the vast majority of retailers will allow you to return it. Some companies, like Pickleball Central, will allow you to “test drive” the paddle to see if you like it. If you don’t, you can return it no questions asked!

You’re going to love pickleball

Thank you for reading through the article, I really appreciate it. I’m thrilled that you’re looking to try out pickleball. Feel free to hit the resources tab at the top of the site to read more crucial information about pickleball. Good luck out there!

Comments 1

  1. my retired husband just got certified as a pro and is struggling with what to do next, he loves to play three times a week at our private clubs but many of the people like me just want to keep it social but we cannot figure out the cost to play for non-members.Any suggestions, he needs to have a place ( an APP) to sign up and explain the costs for a round-robin, unfortunately it is starting to become very political between the beginers, developers and 4.0 good players.

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