With around 280 annual days of sunshine and a near-perfect climate even more often, Simi Valley is an ideal place to enjoy outdoor activities and sports. Over the past few years, no sport has captured America’s imagination and exploded in participation quite like pickleball.
Even if you’ve never picked up a pickleball paddle (try saying that fast three times), chances are you’ve heard all about the game with the funny name and fast-rising fame. The number of pickleball participants across the country skyrocketed from 4.5 million in 2021 to 36.5 million in a recent one-year stretch. Over the past three years, pickleball participation has grown by an annual average of 158.6 percent. Iconic athletes like NBA superstar LeBron James and Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes are also backing budding professional pickleball leagues. The game even has a governing body known as USA Pickleball—based in the equally amusingly named city of Surprise, Arizona.
So it may come as no surprise to learn that Simi Valley and its neighboring communities have also caught pickleball fever. In fact, you’ll currently find no fewer than 62 pickleball courts in and around Simi Valley—including nearly 40 in the Valley alone. With its easy affordability, expanding accessibility, and far-from-steep learning curve, the pickleball passion should only continue in years to come.
Since it’s almost exclusively played in a doubles format and games routinely take a half hour or less to play, pickleball is also just as much a family-friendly and social-hour affair as it is a competitive game. It’s also a fantastic way to stay fit, enjoy all the natural beauty of our region, and have a whole heck of a lot of fun. So why not give it a go yourself during your stay with us?
A Quick Pickleball History
While pickleball continues to generate massive buzz and attract new players, followers, and investors, it’s actually far from a “new” game. In fact, the game got its start close to 60 years ago now—and believe it or not, USA Pickleball has already established a Pickleball Hall of Fame.
The very first pickleball game was played way back in 1965. Three vacationers on Bainbridge Island near Seattle blended elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong to create the game. Little did they know, the game they pioneered would see a massive explosion in popularity and participation six decades later.
The social distancing restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic helped fuel that explosion in 2020—and the game’s hasn’t slowed since. Today, there are 13,391 documented pickleball courts in the United States. California now boasts 982 pickleball courts of its own. That accounts for 7.3 percent of the nation’s courts and ranks as the second-largest court count for any state, behind only Florida and its 1,004 pickleball courts.
Pickleball in and Around Simi Valley
It’s common for tennis players to fall in love with pickleball. Some play both, while others make the full-time transition to the more affordable and portable–and less stressful and formal–pickleball.
It’s not surprising that Simi Valley has heartily embraced pickleball, since tennis has long been a popular pastime in Simi Valley and neighboring communities. While pickleball hasn’t quite caught up to tennis in Simi Valley…yet. But it sure is making fast progress. There are currently 38 pickleball courts in Simi Valley alone!
The Simi Valley Pickleball courts available for public use right now are located at:
*Rancho Simi Community Park: 6 outdoor courts are available at Rancho Simi Community Park, which ranks as one of the most popular pickleball spots in Simi Valley. These well-lit, dedicated pickleball courts are all free to use.
*Sinaloa Middle School: The most extensive court collection in Simi Valley can be found at Sinaloa Middle School, where no fewer than a dozen outdoor concrete courts are available for public play. The dedicated courts here are free to use and cannot be reserved in advance. There are restrooms and water nearby.
*Lemon Park – Rancho Tapo Community Park: Lemon Park has also become a serious spot for pickleball players. There are 8 well-lit, outdoor, dedicated courts available for use here. The courts cannot be reserved in advance.
*Rancho Santa Susana Community Center: If the 12 indoor courts at Sinaloa Middle School are all in use, another indoor court option can be enjoyed at Rancho Santa Susana Community Center. There are 6 indoor wood pickleball courts available for use here, and the courts are even wheelchair-accessible. There is a one-time court use fee here, however.
But just what will a trip to any of these pickleball courts bring you? How hard is it to afford, understand, and play a game that may be every bit as foreign to you as…cricket? You just might be surprised at the answers!
Many Happy Returns…
Tennis has long been championed as a game for all seasons and phases of a person’s life. But unlike tennis, you don’t need to invest large amounts of money in equipment, lessons, practice, and court fees to become a pickleball regular. Not at all.
Just like in most sports, prices for pickleball equipment can vary quite a bit. This is especially true when it comes to paddles, which are 16 inches long by 8 inches wide and typically weigh between 6 ounces and 14 ounces. But a quick online search reveals that it’s possible to invest in an entire set, or “bundle” that includes a pair of paddles for as little as $100. Higher-end single paddles can cost between $100 and $200. Popular retailers like Target, Walmart, and even Costco typically carry pickleball equipment, gear, and even attire.
Whether you go so far as to purchase pickleball shoes or not, you’re bound to reap real rewards and many returns from jumping feet-first into the game. In addition to being far more “sociable” than the more-insular and exclusive worlds of tennis or golf, pickleball also lends itself naturally to family-friendly outings. You can even easily meet many new people through pickleball. Much like with “pickup” basketball, you can pack up your new pickleball gear and hit up a local court to find friendly, free, healthy competition. In fact, the “unofficial rule” of the sport is that you switch partners after each match.
How to Play Pickleball
All of this may sound a bit daunting to the first-time pickleball player. Of course, like anything new in life, there’s certainly somewhat of a learning curve associated with the fast-paced game with the funny name. But for most people, it doesn’t take long at all to get right into the groove.
Unlike tennis, where racket technology advancements powered in a new era of heavy-hitting, baseline-bound play, pickleball retains a high degree of value on a “softer touch” and strong net skills. In fact, pickleball players who excel around the 36-inch-high net (34 inches at its center) have a strong advantage, as they’re allowed to strike balls with a downward “smash” motion around the net—an aggressive and powerful style of shot that’s difficult to defend and return. The pickleball itself is a bit like a wiffleball and weighs less than an ounce.
Whenever and wherever you do end up playing, please do make sure to follow the most important and impactful rule of all:
Have a whole lot of fun!