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Slicing Through Time: Exploring the Fascinating History of Pickleball


Pickleball is a sport that has grown in popularity in recent years, but it has a relatively short history compared to other sports. The game was invented in the mid-1960s by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum, who were all residents of Bainbridge Island in Washington State.

The origins of the name “pickleball” are somewhat disputed. One popular theory is that it was named after Pritchard’s dog, Pickles, who would chase the ball when they played in the yard. Another theory is that it was named after a crew term, “pickle boat,” which refers to a boat with a crew made up of leftover rowers from other boats. The game started out as a way for the three friends to entertain their families, and it was played on a badminton court with paddles and a perforated ball.

Pickleball quickly caught on, and the three inventors worked to develop the game further. They created official rules, designed a special paddle, and even started a company to manufacture equipment. By the early 1970s, pickleball had spread to other parts of the United States, and it was becoming popular in Canada as well.

The game continued to evolve over the next few decades, with different variations and modifications being introduced. In the 1980s, the USA Pickleball Association was founded to promote the sport and develop standardized rules. Tournaments and championships were organized, and the first national championships were held in Arizona in 1984.

Pickleball has continued to grow in popularity, with more and more people taking up the sport every year. The International Pickleball Federation was founded in 2010, and the sport has even been proposed for inclusion in the Olympics. Today, pickleball is played by millions of people around the world, and it has become a beloved pastime for people of all ages and skill levels.

In conclusion, the history of pickleball is a relatively short one, but it is a fascinating story of invention, innovation, and evolution. From its humble beginnings on a backyard badminton court to its current status as a global phenomenon, pickleball has come a long way in a few short decades. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a curious beginner, there’s no denying the appeal of this fun and exciting sport.

1965 – Pickleball was invented on Bainbridge Island, Washington by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. They created the game to keep their families entertained during the summer.

1972 – The first permanent pickleball court was constructed on Bainbridge Island.

1975 – The National Observer published an article about Pickleball, which helped to increase its popularity.

1984 – The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) was formed to promote the game and standardize rules.

1990s – Pickleball began to spread across the United States and Canada, with more and more people discovering the game.

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2001 – The first pickleball tournament was held in Buckeye, Arizona.

2005 – The first International Pickleball Federation (IPF) tournament was held in Canada.

2008 – The USAPA held its first national tournament, which attracted over 400 players.

2010 – The sport continued to grow in popularity, with more than 1,000 USAPA-sanctioned tournaments held across the United States.

2015 – The USAPA celebrated its 10th anniversary with over 15,000 members.

2020 – Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, pickleball continued to grow in popularity, with many players turning to outdoor activities like pickleball for exercise and social interaction.

2022 – Pickleball is now played in over 50 countries around the world, with thousands of players of all ages and skill levels enjoying the game.

Unique facts about Pickleball

  • The name “pickleball” comes from the Pritchard family’s dog, Pickles, who would chase after the ball and hide it in the bushes.
  • Pickleball was originally played with a perforated plastic ball, but a new type of ball made from a harder material was introduced in the early 2000s to make the game faster.
  • Pickleball is often played as a doubles game, but can also be played as singles.
  • The sport has been embraced by older adults as a low-impact way to stay active and socialize, but is also popular with younger players.
  • Pickleball has its own unique scoring system, with points only being awarded to the serving team.
  • The USAPA estimates that there are over 3 million pickleball players in the United States alone.

Do You Know?

Pickleball is a popular paddle sport that has been enjoyed by millions of people around the world. It’s a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, and it’s played on a court with a net. But who invented pickleball? And how did it get its name? In this article, we’ll explore the history of pickleball and answer these questions.

Who Invented Pickleball?

Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. The three men were friends who lived on Bainbridge Island, Washington, and they were looking for a way to entertain their families. They had tried playing badminton, but they couldn’t find the shuttlecock. So, they decided to improvise by using a Wiffle ball instead. They also lowered the net and used paddles instead of rackets. The game became an instant hit, and they continued to refine the rules.

At first, they called the game “Paddle Racket,” but they soon realized that the name didn’t do justice to the fun and excitement of the game. One day, Barney McCallum’s wife, Joan, saw the game and said that it reminded her of the “pickle boat” in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. She suggested the name “pickleball,” and it stuck.

How Did Pickleball Get Its Name?

As mentioned earlier, the name “pickleball” came from Joan McCallum’s reference to the “pickle boat” in crew. However, there are some other theories about how the game got its name. According to one theory, the game was named after Pickles, the family dog of one of Pritchard’s friends. The dog was known for running off with the ball during their games, and they would have to call out “pickle” to get the dog to drop the ball. Another theory suggests that the game was named after a pickle boat used in the sport of rowing, which picks up any leftover rowers who haven’t been chosen for other boats.

Despite the different theories, the most widely accepted explanation for the name “pickleball” is Joan McCallum’s reference to the “pickle boat” in crew. The name has become synonymous with the game, and it has helped to create a unique identity for the sport.


Pickleball is a relatively new sport, but it has already gained a massive following around the world. It was invented by three friends who were looking for a way to entertain their families, and it has since become a fun and exciting game that people of all ages can enjoy. The name “pickleball” may have some different theories behind it, but it’s widely accepted that it came from Joan McCallum’s reference to the “pickle boat” in crew. Whatever the origin of the name, there’s no denying that pickleball has become a beloved sport that will continue to be enjoyed for many years to come.

How is Pickleball Played?

Pickleball is played on a court that is 20 feet wide and 44 feet long, with a net that is 36 inches high at the ends and 34 inches high in the middle. The game can be played with two or four players. The objective of the game is to score points by hitting the ball over the net and into the opponent’s court in a way that the opponent cannot return it.

The serve must be underhand and made from behind the baseline. The server must serve diagonally across the court and the ball must land in the opponent’s service court. The return of serve must also be made diagonally and the ball must clear the net and land in the opponent’s court.

After the serve, the game is played as a rally. The ball can be hit with a forehand or backhand stroke and can be volleyed or played off the bounce. The ball must bounce once on each side before it can be volleyed. The game continues until one side commits a fault, such as hitting the ball out of bounds, hitting the ball into the net, or failing to hit the ball before it bounces twice on their side of the court.

Need-to-Know Terms

Here are some essential terms that you should know if you want to play Pickleball:

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Serve:The underhand stroke that starts each rally.
Double-bounce rule:The ball must bounce once on each side of the court before it can be volleyed.
Volley:Hitting the ball in the air before it bounces on the court.
Dink:A soft shot that is hit over the net with little or no backswing.
Kitchen:The area close to the net where volleying is not allowed.

Why People Enjoy Pickleball

One of the unique aspects of Pickleball is that it is a very social sport. Players often play in doubles, which not only adds to the social aspect but also allows for more strategic and challenging play. Pickleball can be a great way to meet new people and build friendships while also getting exercise and having fun. Additionally, the popularity of Pickleball has been rapidly increasing in recent years, with more and more people discovering and falling in love with the game.

Another reason why people enjoy Pickleball is the sense of community that comes with playing the game. Pickleball is often played in parks, community centers, and retirement communities, and players often form close-knit groups. The game also encourages sportsmanship and camaraderie, making it a great way to make new friends.

Key Dates and Facts

  • Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington state, and Bill Bell, a businessman.
  • The game was named after Pritchard’s dog, Pickles, who would chase the ball and hide it in the bushes.
  • The first official tournament was held in 1976 in Tukwila, Washington.
  • Today, Pickleball is played in over 6,000 locations across the United States and has become increasingly popular in other countries.
  • The International Pickleball Federation (IPF) was founded in 2010 to promote the sport globally and to establish rules and standards for international play.

If you’re looking to improve your pickleball skills, the best way to do so is by practicing and learning from experienced players. There are also many resources available online, such as instructional videos and articles, that can help you master the game. For a comprehensive guide on how to go from a beginner to a pro, check out “The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Pickleball” on This guide covers everything from basic techniques and rules to advanced strategies and mental preparation, making it a valuable resource for players of all levels.


Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. They created the game by combining elements of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong, and named it after Joel Pritchard’s dog, Pickles.

No, you don’t need to have any prior experience to play Pickleball. It is a relatively easy sport to learn, and the rules are straightforward. You can start by playing with a beginner paddle and ball and gradually work your way up to more advanced equipment.

Pickleball is a great way to stay active and improve your physical health. It is a low-impact sport that can help you burn calories, improve your balance and coordination, and strengthen your muscles. Additionally, it is a social sport that can help you meet new people and make friends.

Dustin DeTorres

Dustin has been a Pickleball enthusiast for years and dedicated this blog to providing the best information out there about this fun game.