Padel Participation in England: New insights from Sport England Active Lives Study

Infographic showing racquet sports participation in England, spotlighting padel. Emerging sports include Pickleball with 27,000 players and Padel with 51,000 players. Established sports include Squash (0.9 million), Table Tennis (2.5 million), Badminton (2.9 million), and Tennis (2.9 million). The average annual participation change since 2016 shows a decrease of 4.2% for Squash, 0.8% for Table Tennis, 0.8% for Badminton, and 0.6% for Tennis. Source: Sport England / Ipsos.

Following my previous post regarding monthly players, Sport England and Ipsos have published once-per-year participation rates for six racquet sports which I have captured in the image.

Padel Participation in England

The research found a base of 51,000 padel players taking part in the sport at least once in the year during the survey period ending November 2023. The highest participation rate was in southwest England, likely due to the concentration of indoor padel centres around Bristol.

Participants were also asked when during the year they played these sports. The data shows a spike in padel and pickleball participation in the last three months to November 2023, suggesting that participation rises as more courts open and the opportunity to play increases.

This new Sport England Active Lives research reported on pickleball for the first time showing 27,000 players across England taking part in this emerging racquet sport at least once in the year.

Revitalising Established Racquet Sports

Annual participation numbers show that the four established racquet sports have all declined over the past seven years. If there are fewer occasional racquet sports players, there are fewer opportunities to convert them to more frequent players. Therefore sports governing bodies are now focusing on different formats, scoring systems, and new settings. Table Tennis England’s Ping project has provided 700 free outdoor tables across parks and other public spaces. Meanwhile, in tennis, The Park Tennis Project, supported by the UK Government and LTA Tennis Foundation, has invested £30 million to revitalise 1,800 public tennis courts across Britain. This initiative supports the LTA’s vision of ‘Tennis Opened Up,’ making the sport more accessible. My use of our two local park tennis courts has sustainably increased now they have been resurfaced and managed via the LTA ClubSpark booking platform.

Padel and pickleball are therefore both playing a critical role in introducing people to a racquet sport for the first time and encouraging racquet players to experiment with emerging sports.

My forthcoming UK Padel Report

Recently, I invited UK Padel players to participate in a survey, now open. Share your motivation for playing padel and its impact on your health and well-being.

Strategic Partnership Opportunities with the UK Padel Report

I would enjoy speaking with organisations that want to be associated with Oxygen Consulting’s forthcoming UK Padel Report, especially a padel centre operator, software provider and fitness equipment provider. This is an opportunity to position your business as a key strategic supplier to the sport. Sponsorship means the full report can be made available free of charge rather than behind a paywall. It is beneficial that robust and independent research is available for everyone wanting to grow padel across the UK.

Please contact us to discuss your company’s involvement with our new UK Padel Report.