Skechers doubled down on the up-and-coming sport of pickleball last week.
Three months after unveiling a multi-year partnership with the US Open Pickleball Championships, the footwear company announced new multi-year agreements with the “nation’s elite professional pickleball circuits,” the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) Tour, Major League Pickleball (MLP) and USA Pickleball.
The agreements, formally announced May 26 at the APP Tour’s Franklin New York City Open, position Skechers as the “official footwear company” for each pickleball organization.
“We are very excited to welcome Skechers into the APP Tour, USA Pickleball and MLP families, and we look forward to a long and successful partnership,” Drew Russell, executive vice president of Intersport, an equity partner of the APP Tour and collaborative partner of USA Pickleball and MLP, said in a statement. “Their commitment to pickleball is another demonstration of the sport’s incredible power and growth.”
Founded in 2019, APP is the first and only officially sanctioned tour partner of USA Pickleball. It serves amateurs, professionals and “senior professionals.” MLP, a self-described “elite professional pickleball competition,” hosted its first-ever event in November. The MLP and APP announced in January that they were establishing a “strategic partnership” between the two organizations. Their competitor, the Professional Pickleball Association, has yet to land a major footwear sponsor for its PPA Tour.
Skechers launched its first range of pickleball footwear at the US Open Pickleball Championships in April. Dubbed the Viper Court, the shoe features the grip and stability of its Goodyear rubber outsole and a “shock-absorbing” Arch Fit insole for comfort and support. Skechers president Michael Greenberg said the sneaker received “an overwhelmingly positive response,” with the brand’s first pairs “quickly” selling out at the event.
“People are clearly excited to play in our new Skechers Viper Court with the signature comfort, performance and innovation that they know and love from Skechers,” Greenberg said in a statement. “That’s why we’re fully committed to this fun and exciting sport and driving that point home through an expansive triple partnership with the APP Tour, MLP and USA Pickleball. We look forward to helping promote and grow the sport together, and along with it this new pillar in our business.”
Often described as a mix between badminton, ping pong and tennis, pickleball has become one of the United States’ fastest-growing sports in recent years. According to the latest data from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, the sport amassed 4.8 million players in the U.S. last year, up from 4.2 million in 2020 and 3.5 million in 2019.
The NPD Group’s first-quarter data showed pickleball leading growth in racquet sports equipment with revenue from paddles and balls up 53 percent year over year. Tennis racquet and ball sales, meanwhile, declined over the same period. According to NPD Checkout data, pickleball is most popular with baby boomers in the U.S. and growing among older millennials.