$9B Racquet Sports Industry: The Ultimate Breakdown

We’ve seen pickleball and padel explode in growth over the last few years.

Many of us play ping pong for fun and know how big tennis is…

But what about racquet sports as a whole?

Let’s Dive In 👇

Racquet Sports Overview

Did you know racquet sports started in European prisons and city alleyways?

The first games were played using hands as racquets, giving rise to the name of the early game — Palm.

origins of tennis black and white image

Racquets themselves may have been used as early as the 1500s — the invention of galvanized rubber and improved manufacturing techniques in the 1800s were tipping points.

The first Wimbledon was played in 1877 (around the same time the game reached America).

Both pickleball and padel were founded in the 1960s.

The most popular racquet sports are:

  • Padel
  • Tennis
  • Squash
  • Pickleball
  • Badminton
  • Table Tennis

What counts as a racquet sport?

It’s pretty simple — anything played with a racquet or paddle.

Racquet Sports Are a Massive Industry

While ongoing studies are trying to place a number across the entire racquet sports ecosystem…

Right now the best we have is:

  • $9B racquet sports equipment market
  • $500m additional growth through 2026

Let’s take a look at the most popular ones.


Once considered a “gentleman’s sport” tennis has become mainstream and every major brand has entered the business court.

industrialization of tennis

Key Facts: 📊

  • 87 million tennis players
  • 600k tennis courts exist worldwide
  • The 2023 U.S. Open averaged 1 million viewers and Wimbledon set records for BBC streaming (54M).

Participation in tennis has been on the upswing for three years, according to the USTA (United States Tennis Association), and the sport is now a staple throughout school gym classes.


What began as a simple game to combat kids’ boredom in 1965 is now expected to reach a valuation of $2.3B by 2028.

Key Facts: 📊

  • 48 million pickleball players
  • 34.8 average age
  • ~50,000 courts in the US
  • ~$40,000 to build a court

What’s helped with the quick growth?

Courts take up a relatively small footprint, easy to install, influx of investors, and appeal from celebrities.

As often happens with new sports or industries — membership associations and governing bodies sprung up globally to standardize rules and codes of conduct.

We did a deep dive on Pickleball here


Now is an exciting time for padel in the U.S., with the growth of courts and the first professional league.

image of padel racket with balls

Key Facts: 📊

  • 25 million padel players worldwide.
  • Largest populations in Spain, Argentina, Scandinavia, and the Middle East.
  • The number of clubs has doubled over the past year and USPA-sanctioned tournaments grew by 40%.
  • World Padel Tour TV was broadcast live in 150 countries and watched by 367M unique viewers.

The U.S. market is embracing this amazing sport and the future of padel looks incredible.

We did a deep dive on Padel here.

Ping Pong / Table Tennis

An Olympic sport since 1988, the game originated in 19th Century England, where it was played with a champagne cork “ball.”

Instead of paddles, players used cigar boxes, and they hit the cork over books instead of a net.

hand drawn image of two Asian ping pong players

It was a form of after-dinner entertainment for the wealthy.

Key Facts: 📊

  • The U.S. alone has 250 affiliated table tennis clubs.
  • More than 1B people watched the World Team Table Tennis Finals.
  • Revenue from the sport is currently at $125m and is expected to hit $145M by 2030.


What may boost the popularity of the game in the U.S.?

Perhaps, like it did in the 1930s, greater celebrity involvement will put badminton back on the map.

badminton racquet and shuttlecock

Key Facts: 📊

  • Over 220 million people worldwide play this sport, originating about 2,000 years ago.
  • Badminton is forecasted to grow ~6% between 2023 and 2030.

The pandemic boosted the game’s popularity, as it did many outdoor sports.


Like other racquet sports, it started in London prisons.

man hitting squash ball off the wall

The popularity of squash boomed after the Second World War.

Key Facts: 📊

  • Growing in popularity globally, it now boasts 20 million players across 185 countries.
  • A whopping 116 national associations belong to the World Squash Federation.

Squash even has its own streaming platform, so fans can keep on top of gameplay.

The World Squash Federation (WSF) has an ambitious strategic growth plan to expose consumers of all ages to the sport, which generates approximately $655M in equipment sales alone.

Other Racquet Sports

RACQUETBALL: Launched in 1950, this sport is played by either two or four players on a court with a wall, a hollow rubber ball, and a stringed racket. It can be played indoors or outdoors.

PLATFORM TENNIS: Governed by the American Platform Tennis Association (APTA), the game is played on a raised surface (platform), often with heaters under the surface.

BEACH TENNIS: This game is played on sand, a fusion of racquet and beach sports (like the popular beach volleyball). The first World Team Championship took place in 2012. It now has 300 events across 37 countries.

alternate racquet sport such as beach tennis

POP TENNIS: The court for this sport is smaller than a regulation tennis court, the rackets are shorter, and the balls are lower compression than tennis balls. The International POP Tennis Association is its governing body. It was initially called paddle tennis.

CROSSMINTON: One of the fastest racquet sports, it is a hybrid of tennis, squash, and badminton.

It’s been exciting to see the explosion in growth and interest in racquet sports…

But importantly, the collaboration starting to take place between them (“a rising tide lifts all boats”).

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