Although their “Shark Tank” episode hasn’t yet aired, Tim Swindle and Scott Brown can say this much about their new backyard game that’s a mashup of pickleball and spikeball: Mark Cuban is interested.
Photos of the entrepreneurs’ appearance on “Shark Tank,” which airs Friday night on ABC, indicate that Cuban — the owner of the Dallas Mavericks who has a net worth of roughly $5 billion — at least has a good time giving the Utah-based outdoor game PaddleSmash a try.
In a short preview of their “Shark Tank” appearance, Swindle and Brown tell the Sharks that pickleball “is the fastest growing sport in North America, and if you’re not playing yet, you are definitely missing out.” They also call spikeball “a wildly popular outdoor game” and claim to have “combined the best elements of both into the ultimate outdoor game.”
Is their pitch — and active gameplay — enough to win over the Sharks? Viewers will have to wait and see. In the meantime, here’s a look at how PaddleSmash got its start — and a tutorial on how to play.
Unsurprisingly, PaddleSmash emerges out of Utah
It should be no surprise that PaddleSmash, a game that draws inspiration from pickleball, stems from Utah. A recent Heart and Movement Study from Apple that included more than 200,000 participants not only found that pickleball surpassed tennis in popularity, but that “Utah leads the nation, on a per capita basis, when it comes to hitting the pickleball courts,” the Deseret News recently reported.
“We’re excited to see that in the latest research study update from the Apple Heart and Movement Study, Utah stood out as the most popular state per capita for pickleball,” Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said in a statement provided by Apple, per the Deseret News. “It’s awesome that so many Utahns are grabbing the opportunity pickleball offers to incorporate activity into their days, and this research is a great reminder that exercise of any kind is a powerful way to improve our health over the long term.”
Joe Bingham, a structural engineer and father of seven from Pleasant View, Utah, knows the pickleball courts in Utah can get crowded. So to appease his pickleball-loving family, he started to explore ways to create his own version that didn’t involve traveling or crowds. His family also loved playing spikeball, so he figured he could potentially combine the two into a new game that could be played at home.
“After making a few failed prototypes from sheets of plastic and some netting, he finally made a version that his kids loved playing,” reads a description on the PaddleSmash website. “The word soon spread around the neighborhood and PaddleSmash was born.”
When they got a chance to test out PaddleSmash, Swindle and Brown “immediately fell in love with the game and knew it was going to be a hit,” according to the game’s site. The entrepreneurs worked to create a version that was more portable — you can carry the entire court with you — and market-ready.
And, they hoped, ready for “Shark Tank.”
How to play PaddleSmash
A video of four people playing PaddleSmash has generated more than 330,000 likes on TikTok. It can be hard to figure out what’s going on at first, though, so here’s a quick breakdown of how to play.
For more information, you can check out this tutorial from the PaddleSmash site.
Some quick tips:
- While the game can be played one against one and two against one, the most popular format appears to be two against two.
- You stand across from your teammate.
- To serve, hit the ball into the court with enough force that it bounces over the net and out of the court.
- After serving, a team has up to three more shots to get the ball back into the court — consecutive hits from a player are allowed, but both players must hit the ball in a sequence.
- Once the first team gets the ball back into the court — the ball must hit the court and bounce over the net to count as a hit — the other team has up to three shots to do the same.
- At any point, if a team fails to hit their ball into the court or the ball hits the ground, the other team gets a point.
- The game is played to 11 points (you have to win by two).
PaddleSmash is available for purchase online and in stores at Scheels and Dick’s.
How to watch ‘Shark Tank’
The new “Shark Tank” episode airs Friday at 7 p.m. MDT on ABC.
According to the episode description, other potential investments include “a pet-sitting service for weddings and events; a high-fashion bodysuit; and gourmet made-to-order French fries.”