Why is it called Pickleball?

Pickleball was invented on Bainbridge Island

So why is Pickleball called Pickleball, and where did it get its name?! In the summer of 1965, Joel Pritchard and his friends invented the game we now know as Pickleball.

Joel Pritchard was a Washington State legislator and a businessman. His family would take holidays on Bainbridge Island, which in the 1960s was a popular vacation spot for Seattleites.

The story goes that after an afternoon of golf with his friends, Barney McCallum and Bill Bell, he returned to his holiday home, and his children were bored.

They tried to find a game they could all play together, something appropriate for people of different ages and abilities.

But nothing that already existed sprang to mind, and so they tried to come up with something new. They had a badminton court. The problem was they didn’t have anything to play badminton with.

But they *did* have some ping pong paddles. The ping pong ball was a little light though, so they found a bigger, harder, plastic ball, lowered the net, and started to play.

The birth of Pickleball

They quickly realized they’d created a game that was easy to pick up, and a great way for the whole family, people of all different ages, to play together.

The first pickle ball paddles

That escalated into a game they enjoyed so much, that a few days later they threw together the first set of Pickleball rules.

Soon tiring of the ping pong bats, they made some simple wooden paddles – which are very close to the shape of the paddles we all use today!

Over several years local friends and family started to play this new game, and it started to gain popularity.

Little did they know they’d started a sport which in todays world is the fastest growing participation sport in America, with interest rapidly growing in other countries around the world.

Joel Pritchard died in 1997. I find it such a shame that he didn’t live to see what he started.

Anyway, that still doesn’t explain why the game is called Pickleball!

How did Pickleball get it’s name?

If you’re familiar with rowing, you may have heard about ‘pickle boats‘. A Pickle boat is a rowing boat where the crew are thrown together from random people, who for one reason or another don’t already have a boat. The left overs if you will.

Much like how Joel and Barney threw together the left over equipment from a few different sports to create this new game. And so they called it Pickleball.

Contrary to popular belief the sport was NOT named after the family dog!

The growth of Pickleball

Two years after Pickleball was invented, the first permanent Pickleball court was built. That was 1967. By the mid 1970’s the first articles were published about this new sport, first by The National Observer, and then followed up by Tennis magazine.