The hottest sport in the United States is on fire in Franklin as well.

For the last three years, pickleball has been named the fastest-growing sport in America by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, and the sport has spread like wildfire here too.

Franklin Parks and Recreation Assistant Superintendent Rocky Stultz says the city was introduced to pickleball shortly before the pandemic in 2019, using tennis courts at the Boys & Girls Club. Now, Parks and Recreation boasts 14 pickleball-dedicated courts, six of those brand-new at Community Park, and the remaining eight at Youngs Creek Park, which opened in 2022. Various city tennis courts have also been lined for pickleball. The gymnasium at the Recreation and Fitness Center has two temporary courts available on Tuesday and Thursday mornings as well.

pickleballWhere do die-hard players go when the weather is less than ideal for outdoor play?

Meeting the demand for indoor play inspired Jenny Deaton to open Drop Shot Pickleball, a 6,600-square-foot facility with three courts at 172 Commerce Drive, in January 2023.

“People were complaining that there was nowhere to play in the winter,” Deaton says. “I was looking for an excuse to retire, so I got the idea and it only took three to four months to come together.”

The facility, open 24/7 and 365 days a year, already has more than 1,500 members, and 300 to 400 players come through every two weeks. Deaton attributes part of that growth to Amy Fox of Franklin. Fox, who has played for nearly two years, started organizing round-robin tournaments at Drop Shot shortly after it opened. “There were five of us who regularly played, then that turned into 14 within six months,” Fox says. Today there are six 14-player round-robins played at Drop Shot every week.

Growth of the sport in Franklin and Johnson County can also be credited to Troy Wright, USA Pickleball District Ambassador of West Central Indiana. In his volunteer position, Wright promotes the sport to the community and has helped many players learn through his clinics and workshops at Youngs Creek Park. The certified professional coach conducts clinics throughout the summer for beginners, as well as those who have some experience but want to improve their skills. Dates are posted on Franklin Indiana Pickleball Club Facebook page.

pickleball courtWright and Celeste Hook, unofficially named Mr. and Mrs. Pickleball of Franklin, assist Franklin Parks and Recreation with its annual pickleball tournament at Youngs Creek Park and Community Park. This year’s tournament is June 7 through 9. Starting in 2022, this tournament has expanded to two parks and 14 courts, and has also added skill and age divisions. Those interested can register at

What has made pickleball so popular? Many believe it is because of how easy it can be to learn, the diversity of the game, and the fact that there is usually little financial investment to start playing. You can even borrow paddles from the public library before investing in your own.

“People are realizing how fun it is, especially in doubles play,” Wright says. “The smaller court is easier to navigate and it is a good cardio exercise. Young people are getting into it and understand the benefits of playing.”

Deaton and Fox highlight the socialization and fellowship component of the game. “Any age, any gender can play,” Deaton says. “It is generational as well. You can make it whatever you want it to be. It can be social, a form of exercise, competitive – you name it.”

Fox has formed lifelong friendships with former strangers. She started at open play and formed a group organically of the same skill level. Now, this group vacations together several times a year – and of course packs their pickleball paddles.

For more information on pickleball in Franklin, visit:

Franklin Parks and Recreation:

Drop Shot Pickleball:

Franklin Indiana Pickleball Club Facebook Group

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