how pickleball was namedPickleball is an exhilarating sport that requires its players to be very creative. Sometimes referred to as a cross between badminton, tennis, and ping pong, pickleball is a unique sport that demands unique strategy.

A Brief History of Pickleball

A long time ago, in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, not far from Seattle, Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell came home one summer day to find their families sitting around bored. After a hunt around to find a way to entertain everyone, they found a badminton court but no shuttlecock and not enough rackets. They improvised with ping-pong bats and a perforated plastic ball. The net started out at the usual height for badminton but it soon was lowered to an easier level for the shorter players. When they discovered that the ball bounced easily on the hard court they made bouncing an essential part of the game. The following weekend Barney McCallum joined the party and the three men worked out some basic rules between them to create a fun game that was easy to learn and all ages could play together.

In 1967 the Pritchard’s neighbour Bob O’Brian built the first permanent Pickleball court in his backyard. By 1972, Pickleball was starting to become popular so a corporation was created to protect the sport. In 1976, the first Pickleball tournament was held in Tikwila, Washington and won by David Lester. In 1984 the The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) was organized to promote the growth and development of Pickleball, on both a national and international level. The first thing they did was to publish a rule book. The Association has more than fulfilled their brief – by 1990 Pickleball was being played in all 50 states of America and its popularity continues to grow.

The first thing pretty much everyone asks is ‘Where did the name Pickleball come from?’ and it’s a good question. Various stories and legends have been told over the years. One popular theory, started by Barry McCallum, is that the Pritchard’s had a dog called Pickles who loved to run off with the ball. However, according to Joan Pritchard, they got the dog two years after they created the game and the dog was named after the game, not the other way around. Joan says it was named after a chance remark of hers, but not about food. They were talking about how the game had been pieced together from the leftovers from other games. Joan said it reminded her of the Pickle Boat which was crewed by oarsmen chosen from the leftovers of other boats.

Can Anyone Play Pickleball?

Anyone can play this game!  Players come in all ages.  Some of the best players range from their late 30’s to their late 70’s, and even 80’s.  In the immortal words of Tom Jones (kind of), You don’t have to be tall to play this game, you don’t have to be quick to have lots of fun.  Its not about power or strength, or how old you are.  All you need is some extra time…and some friends.  I think I want to play pickleball now!  Sorry Sir Tom.

Pickleball, like tennis, is a family sport, and is virtually a fountain of youth for senior citizens.  Many seniors have said that pickleball has changed and even saved their lives.  Many cities throughout the us sponsor a “senior games” (50 and older) every year – usually in the summer months and pickleball is always one of the sporting events.