US Padel Series: The Current State of Padel in the US

The United States is without question a central hub of the sports world. Whether it be the fan culture surrounding their 4 major professional leagues, or their avid amateur sports culture, if a sport flourishes in the United States, it flourishes worldwide.

When it comes to the game of Padel, however, the United States is not yet at the development stage in terms of popularity to compete with any of the top countries such as Spain, Argentina, and Sweden. General strong sports interest in the country combined with a social population makes the US a perfect breeding ground to be Padel’s next major hub.

In this series of blog posts, we explore the current state of padel in the US, the various challenges for its growth and what the future holds for padel in America.

The Big Debate: Pickleball vs Padel

While sports such as Pickleball have exploded in recent years as a result of the pandemic and a low technical entry barrier for new players, Padel has yet to follow suit. As of 2023, a study done by The Pickleball Dinks estimated there were over 35 million players in the United States spread over 10,000 locations. While Pickleball has the advantage of not needing much to set up a court, Padel has yet to reach numbers anywhere near that.

What Is The Current Padel Landscape In The US?

With 56 different venues that include 180 courts, the size of Padel in the United States remains relatively small. Take Spain by comparison, which has over 15,000 courts as of January 2023, or even a country where it is slightly less popular like Sweden, which has over 4,000 courts.

With that being said, the United States Padel Association (USPA) projects that by 2030, there will be over 30,000 courts in America. With a population hugely passionate for sport combined with an entrepreneurial culture focused on driving ‘new sports’, it’s no secret that Padel has the potential to boom big in America.

As we speak, 20 different projects are underway across the country to set up new clubs and courts so that the sport becomes more accessible to those who wish to play it. One of the biggest issues facing Padel right now is accessibility when it comes to courts, and the United States has that same issue. More and more Americans are hearing about Padel, but there simply aren’t as many places to play as in other countries. While Padel is in its infancy in the U.S. currently, there are a number of people who are focused on driving the game into the spotlight and trying to make it more accessible.

There are a number of companies, including The Padel School, who are focusing on solving the key issues around how to grow the game in the long run. One of which is training padel coaches. While interest exists in countries like the U.S. to grow the game of Padel, a key stepping stone to enabling such long-term growth will be how padel clubs and academies can provide their players with proper padel coaching.

Among other figures driving the rise of Padel in the States is Santiago Gomez, the CEO of Padel Haus in New York City, one of the most prominent hubs of Padel in America. Gomez started the Padel Haus in 2022 and initially saw an increase in players from nations where Padel is most popular; countries such as Spain, Argentina, and Sweden. However, after a bit of time had passed, more and more locals grew intrigued by the prospect of playing a new sport, and so those living nearby started coming to the courts.

Why Padel As A Sport Sells Itself

Not only are locals driving Padel Haus to be sustainable financially for Gomez, but they are also bringing their children who are playing in the club’s junior program. As a new generation of players grows up with the sport, the growth potential is truly exciting. Currently, Padel is at the slight disadvantage of not having a strong culture among the youth demographic, but a rise in younger players could prove crucial in changing that notion.

Gomez has also noticed a significant statistic when it comes to new Padel players: at Padel Haus in NYC, Gomez has seen a 92% return rate, essentially meaning nearly everyone who is signing up to play is returning to play at least once. This statistic speaks to the inherent feasibility of picking up Padel quickly. Unlike some other sports such as tennis or golf which may take years to get to a level where the game is enjoyable, after a brief session of Padel or two, it can be a lot of fun right off the bat.

Big Padel Projects Are Starting

While accessibility remains limited in parts of the country, huge projects such as Ultra Padel in Miami are a testament to the growth of the game in the country and the excitement that is brewing.

As Chief Padel Officer of Ultra Padel in Miami, Julian Wortelboer is going big in an attempt to have a Padel breakthrough stateside. You’ll struggle to find someone more involved with Padel in the US than Wortelboer. Wortelboer is an accomplished player and an elite coach, the President and CEO of the Padel Coaches Association, founder of Padel Smash Academy, and does Padel racket reviews all while also hosting a Padel podcast.

As a passionate Padel figure, Wortelboer is putting his money where his passion is by implementing a brand-new 29-court luxury facility in the heart of Miami. Wortelboer wants to make his facility state of the art, with plans to include AI-powered cameras on all courts. Further, Wortelboer wants to set up the first junior Padel academy in the United States, and even include a 5-star restaurant at his club.

Among the most exciting outcomes of Wortelboer’s plan, however, is his plan to host, in his words, “a zillion tournaments.” Wortelboer has stated his intention to work with the USPA and A1 among other organizations to make Ultra Padel not just a destination for locals, but for the globe’s best Padel players. The recurring theme of the current state of Padel in the United States is that it needs the right people to get it off the ground. Fortunately, with figures like Gomez and Wortelboer, it would appear that sooner rather than later, the Padel boom which has hit portions of Europe and South America, will make its way to America.


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