Trusts Serve Up Paddle and Pickleball 

Published on: February 15th 2023

2023 is starting to look like the year for paddle sports!

Social enterprise GLL has announced a new, innovative partnership with the UK’s leading padel company Game4Padel, that could transform participation within the UK of this rapidly evolving sport.

The agreement will see GLL provide sites for padel courts at many of the 250 leisure centres and sports grounds it operates under its ‘Better’ brand, whilst Game4Padel will install the courts and provide the expertise to deliver the sport, which is still in its infancy within the UK.

Whilst in Scotland, Edinburgh Leisure has introduced Pickleball sessions at four of its venues.

Invented in the USA over 50 years ago by a family who named it after their dog Pickles. Pickleball is played on a court very similar to badminton but with a lower net, it is played with a ball and a paddle, and uses racket skills from tennis, squash, badminton and table tennis. The rules and scoring system mean that pickleball is very accessible for the young and not-so-young, making it a family activity for everyone to enjoy. 

Padel is a cross between tennis and squash and is one of the fastest-growing sports in Europe and has gained increasing popularity over recent years. It is Spain’s second most popular sport after football, with over six million people currently playing, and it is anticipated that padel will become an Olympic sport by 2032.

Commenting on the new partnership, Game4Padel Co-Founder and CEO Michael Gradon said: “This is an extremely exciting development as it will rapidly grow the sport of padel in the UK. GLL has a wealth of existing leisure and sports sites with a user base of active people who, we believe, are prime candidates for trying out this new game. We are delighted to have been selected by GLL as their Padel provider and will use our experience and expertise to bring Padel facilities to people all across the UK.” 

Andrew Clark, Head of Sport & Aquatics at GLL, added: “We are excited about this new partnership with Game4Padel. The game is easy to pick up, can be played by people of all ages and abilities and is extremely fun and sociable. All of these factors make the game an attractive option for us as we aim to deliver sports and leisure facilities which can bring communities together and help them to stay active and healthy.”

Tom Murray, LTA Head of Padel, said: “The popularity of padel is continuing to boom in Britain and making sure we have the infrastructure to meet growing demand is essential to achieving sustainable growth. There are already over 89,000 people playing across Britain, and we hope new facilities will encourage more people to give padel a try or play more regularly.”        

Padel is a cross between tennis and squash that is easy to play, fun and extremely sociable. It is played mainly in a doubles format on an enclosed court that is two-thirds the size of a tennis court. It has an army of high-profile fans, including Andy Murray, David Beckham, and Lionel Messi.

Pickleball is played on a court similar to a badminton court that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong using a paddle and plastic ball with holes.