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Pickleball: How this Aussie is making $30/hr from sporting trend

Pickleball is soaring in popularity and Aussies are looking for ways to capitalise on the trend.

Dale Glenny and her pickleball court.
Dale Glenny decided to convert her unused tennis court into a pickleball court. (Source: Supplied)

Dale Glenny fell in love with pickleball after a recent stint living in America, and is now looking to capitalise on the fast-growing sport.

Pickleball is often described as a mix between tennis, badminton and ping pong. It’s played on a hard court a quarter of the size of a tennis court, using a hollow plastic ball and paddles.

It’s estimated there are 25,000 pickleball players across Australia and, with a 154 per cent increase in Google searches for the sport, this number is likely to keep growing.

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Perth resident Dale was introduced to pickleball through a friend while she was in Chicago. Since then, she’s “never looked back” and plays at least four times a week.

The ceramicist and former rowing coach is now in the process of becoming a qualified pickleball coach herself.

“It’s really fun. You’re a lot closer to your fellow players and you don’t have to be super fit to get into it,” Dale told Yahoo Finance.

“It’s just easy to get into. If you don’t have really great mobility, you can still play and have fun in a social setting.”

Pickleball court
Dale estimates the conversion will set her back $80,000 and she's hoping to offset some of these costs by renting it out. (Source: Supplied)

After returning to Australia, Dale decided to convert the unused tennis court in her East Fremantle home into a pickleball court.

“It is a bit of an expense … It probably is going to be around $80,000 to convert it. But, as a friend of mine said, ‘You paid money for this parcel of land that you are not using and you are going to get a space you can actually use and generate a bit of income from’,” Dale said.

She is now renting out her outdoor pickleball court for $30 per hour on Swimply. She is hoping to use the extra cash to offset the conversion cost and pay for some upgrades around the house.

Dale Glenny standing on pickleball court
Dale encouraged other Aussies to try out the sport. (Source: Supplied)

Pickleball mania

Swimply Australia director Sam McDonagh expects the pickleball trend will continue growing in Australia over the next couple of years.

“[There are] about 500 pickleball courts on Swimply in the US and that number has grown significantly in the last 12 months,” McDonagh told Yahoo Finance.

“We’re yet to see that here in Australia … [but] the demand is there and we know the number of people playing pickleball in Australia is somewhere between 15,000 and 25,000.”

McDonagh expects this number to double, thanks to the national pickleball championships and popularity of racquet sports.

"We just need places for people to play,” McDonagh said.

Who can jump on the trend?

McDonagh said Aussies like Dale could capitalise on this opportunity by converting unloved tennis courts into pickleball courts. But it can be pricey and won’t suit every court.

“It needs to be a hard surface. There are some tennis courts that wouldn’t be applicable but the standard plexi coat court or basketball court can easily be converted into a pickleball court,” McDonagh said.

“Then the ability to put those lines around the set of dimensions. The cost of a pickleball net, which is about 90 centimeters high, is really inexpensive. You can buy pickleball nets for less than $200.”

Dale said she’d love to see more Aussies playing pickleball and encouraged people to “just give it a go”.

“If you’re interested in doing it, I just about guarantee that you’ll like it. One of the things they say about the difference between a pickleball match and a tennis match is that there is more laughter. It’s just always fun,” Dale said.

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