by Pickleball Superstore March 25, 2022
Pickleball is a paddle sport with elements similar to several sports: badminton, table tennis, racquetball and tennis. It's played with solid paddles made of composite materials along with a perforated polymer ball. Pickleball paddles continue to improve with technology advancements and pickleball balls are unique - like a baseball sized wiffle ball with 25-40 round holes.
The sport can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. Many pickleball beginners start with lessons and/or clinics to learn the basics ,while also meeting new people. Pickleball is a very social sport, however tournament play can be highly competitive. Watching the professionals play pickleball is inspiring and aspirational for many. Recently, outlets such as ESPN have been airing larger pickleball tournaments online due to audience demand / engagement.
Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Three dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum are credited for creating game because their kids were bored with the typical summertime activities.
Pritchard’s property had an old badminton court on it, so they started there with hopes of having some fun. They couldn’t find enough badminton rackets for a full game so instead, they improvised by using spare ping pong paddles and a wiffle ball. With these bits and pieces lying around, Pickleball was born.
Two years later in 1967, Joel Pritchard constructed the first, permanent pickleball court in the backyard of Bob O’Brian, who was Pritchard’s neighbor. The decision to build a dedicated and permanent court further cemented their homemade game into a love-able pastime.
According to the Sport and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), pickleball participation grew by a whopping 21.3% last year as Americans looked for new ways to stay active during the COVID pandemic. It's played outdoors and indoors, with outdoor play being more prevalent.
According the to U.S.A. Pickleball Association, the origins of the name differs between different accounts. Joel Pritchard’s wife, Joan, started to call their game pickleball because “the combination of different sports reminded me of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.” But according to Barney McCallum, they named the game after Pritchard’s dog, who was (as you might’ve guessed) named Pickles! Despite the sour taste of actual pickles, their dog was sweet and known to run off with the ball while it was still being played!
Depending on who you ask, both accounts of the game’s name may actually be true. At the start, there wasn’t any name for pickleball until an official one was needed when the game started to gain traction. With the laid-back nature of pickleball, it’s only appropriate that it was named in a similar fashion.