How Did Pickleball Get Its Name?

History of Pickleball

Pickleball has a long, interesting history for a relatively young sport. It was developed in Washington state in 1965 by three dads looking for a recreational activity for their families. It's unclear exactly why they named it pickleball, but there are numerous theories.

We will explore the origins of this unique sport and how it got its name:

Origins of Pickleball

Pickleball was developed in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, Washington. In the summer of that year, parents were looking for a game their children could all play together. Joel Pritchard, an attorney and former Congressman; Bill Bell, a builder and the grandfather of pickleball; and Barney McCallum a local business owner created the game as an amalgamation of different sports like badminton, ping-pong and tennis.

The sport was originally called “Paddle Tennis“, however it was later renamed “Pickleball” when Pritchard's daughter proclaimed that pickles were her favorite food after seeing the court from her bedroom window. McCallum crafted pickleball paddles out of plywood with marimba mallets handles attached to them. These paddles became the official choice for playing Pickleball and remain so today. The sport was popular amongst Pritchards' family and friends before slowly gaining traction Nationally.

In 1972 Pickleball was featured in Sports Illustrated magazine where it began to gain traction outside of Bainbridge Island. National recognition unfortunately did not lead to growth due to lack of an organized governing body for Pickleball which caused it to stagnate until 1984 when USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), now one of the largest governing sporting bodies in the United States, was established. Since then it has become incredibly popular among adults who enjoy playing recreational sports as well as competitive players at all skill levels who play Major Tournaments throughout America and even in Canada, Europe and Asia!

Development of Pickleball

Pickleball is a sport whose early roots began in 1965 as a backyard game for families. This game was created by US Congressman Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell, a successful business entrepreneur, along with Big John Morris, Barney McCallum and other members of their Washington state families. The origin of the name pickleball is unknown but there are several theories that circulate. What many sources do agree upon is that pickleball got its start in Washington an island community south of Seattle.

Initially, the game was played on badminton courts with the net lowered to 36 inches as well as utilizing paddles borrowed from nearby paddle tennis court players. Tennis balls were then used to play this new-found sport because they were softer than baseballs or whiffle balls. The original size and shape of the wooden paddles had an oddly shaped handle on one side and what later become known as the classic teardrop design on the other with contour added for extra control over placement shots.

Over time, commercialized versions of this half-wood half-aluminum bat developed which allowed for more power to be generated when swinging at the ball compared with no power enhancements when using just traditional wooden paddles.

In 1972, globalization visits upon pickleball when Jake Beshears became the first individual to create an international version of pickleball – inventing official rules along with tournament formats that are identical to what we know today as pickleball today!

The Name of Pickleball

Pickleball is a popular sport that is often enjoyed by people of all ages. The sport has become incredibly popular in recent years and its origins date back to 1965. But how did this sport get its unusual name?

Well, the name “pickleball” has its roots in the peculiar stories told by its creators, who claim to have chosen the name based on a combination of the sport's inventor's dog, Pickles, and their favorite sport, badminton.

Let's take a closer look at the story behind the sport's name.

Theories on the Name Origin

The origins of pickleball are debated, but what isn’t in dispute is the origin of its name. Pickleball takes its name from the inventor’s dog – Pickles – who would often chase after the ball during a game. There are a couple other theories that have gained popularity over the years and could provide further insight into the game's moniker.

The first theory is based on a combination of two different sports, combining both “picket” and “ball”. The former was a form of badminton while the latter referred to baseball. Another possible explanation is that it’s simply an amalgamation of pickles and basketball. This theory claims that, like pickles, pickleball comes in all shapes and sizes. Finally, some believe that it’s derived from ‘puddle ball,’ referring to when the inventor played on a wet court for better stability for his makeshift wooden paddles.

No matter which one you choose to believe or if none of them appeal to you at all, one thing is certain – Pickleball has become an increasingly popular sport played by people from all walks of life since its inception decades ago!

Popular Theories of the Name

Pickleball is a popular racquet sport that combines elements of badminton, table tennis and tennis. While the origins of the name are shrouded in mystery, there are several popular theories regarding the origin of its unique moniker.

Some believe that the pickle part of pickleball was named after one of co-founder Joel Pritchard’s dog, Pickles. Pickles would chase balls around while they played in Joel’s backyard and thus was dubbed Pickles' game. Another theory surrounds the idea that the ball used during a friendly match between Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell resembled a pickled vegetable – hence, ‘pickleball’!

The ‘ball’ part of the name may be a reference to other racquet sports like tennis which use a ‘ball’ as their main piece of equipment. The real origin story remains largely unknown although many people like to speculate on its origins when playing this fun and active game!

Pickleball Today

Pickleball is a relatively new sport that has become popular among Americans. The sport combines aspects of badminton, tennis, and table tennis, and is typically played on a badminton court with a net that is slightly lower than a tennis net.

Regardless of how it's played today, one of the most interesting aspects of pickleball is its name – how did this sport get its unusual moniker? Let's find out!

Popularity of Pickleball

Pickleball has grown significantly in popularity over the past several decades, becoming one of the most popular racket sports in the United States. According to the USA Pickleball Association, an estimated two million Americans were playing pickleball as of 2020.

The sport has seen an increase in participation due to its accessibility and diversity, as anyone from children to seniors can join a game. It’s also appealing because it’s easy to learn and can be played with only two or four players. Plus, pickleball is relatively low-impact compared to other racket sports like tennis or table tennis, making it easier on players’ joints and muscles.

The fast-paced game is also extremely social – which has helped make it a favorite for athletes of all ages. There’s obviously lots of friendly competition among friends who play together regularly but even competing against strangers at tournaments and classes can be just as fun since the sport fosters new connections within local communities through friendly competition.

Pickleball in the Olympics

Pickleball has grown significantly in popularity in the United States, becoming one of the fastest-growing sports. With this increased popularity comes increased interest in the possibility of Pickleball becoming an Olympic event.

Pickleball was first introduced to the International Olympic Committee in 2017 and while they have yet to officially recognize Pickleball as an Olympic sport, it appears that interest is growing. Currently, there are a number of countries offering competitive Pickleball tournaments including Australia, Canada, Italy and Germany. These countries also participate in the World Pickleball Championships which is held every two years and features both doubles and singles competitions.

The sports high-energy game play makes it exciting to watch and its skill elements make it ideal for competitive tournaments where prize money can be won for each victorious team. With its growing popularity around the world, many people hope that Pickleball will one day become an Olympic sport allowing players from all over the world to come together on a global stage to compete at the highest level of competition.


Pickleball is an exciting and fast-growing sport that has been around for more than 50 years. It's a combination of badminton, tennis, and table tennis and is enjoyed by people of all ages. But how exactly did pickleball get its name?

In this article, we uncovered the history behind the game's name and looked at the different theories that exist. Ultimately, it's impossible to know exactly why the game was called pickleball, but its fascinating history makes it all the more enjoyable to play.

Summary of the History of Pickleball

The history of pickleball is associated with a peculiar, if not perplexing, name. Its origin story begins with the inventors, Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum, and Bill Bell—three dads who wanted to create an easy-to-learn game their kids could have fun playing together.

Though its exact nomenclature remains something of a mystery, some accounts suggest that Pritchard’s family cocker spaniel Pickles chased after nearby badminton shots hit into his yard and he fondly named the new game “pickleball” after his pet. Whatever it's source may be, one thing is certain: Pickleball has become one of the most popular recreational games in America today. Invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle Washington, it has now spread across the United States and around world to countries like Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Pickleball is played on badminton courts and involves many skills needed for a successful game such as coordination for serves and returns as well as strategy for singles or doubles play. With its ever growing popularity in mind, pickleball continues to provide recreational games people from different walks of life can enjoy together.

The Legacy of Pickleball

Pickleball has a long history that has helped shape the landscape of sports in the United States. This popular sport originated in 1965 when three dads invented it in their backyard. Back then, it was called “Pickle-in-the-Middle” and has since been refined and modernized to be the game we know today.

The sport of Pickleball has gained a tremendous amount of popularity over the years and is now a staple at most family reunions, gatherings, gyms, schools and even professional tournaments.

The legacy of Pickleball continues as its popularity continues to grow across both recreational and semi-professional circles. With dedicated organizations set up to advance this sport, such as the USAPA (USA Pickleball Association), more and more people are learning about not just the game itself but its origins as well. As this trend continues, Pickleball will continue to be enjoyed by families who want an enjoyable social activity that all ages can join together. As the saying goes: “a family that plays together stays together”!