History

1965 – After playing golf one Saturday during the summer, Joel Pritchard, congressman from Washington State and Bill Bell, successful businessman, returned to Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island, WA (near Seattle) to find their families sitting around with nothing to do. The property had an old badminton court so Pritchard and Bell looked for some badminton equipment and could not find a full set of rackets. They improvised and started playing with ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. At first they placed the net at badminton height of 60 inches and volleyed the ball over the net.As the weekend progressed, the players found that the ball bounced well on the asphalt surface and soon the net was lowered to 36 inches. The following weekend, Barney McCallum was introduced to the game at Pritchard’s home. Soon, the three men created rules, relying heavily on badminton. They kept in mind the original purpose, which was to provide a game that the whole family could play together.
 
The Name
 
     Pickleball has a very interesting name, especially since no pickles are used. Accounts of how the name originated differ. (1)According to Joel Pritchard’s wife (Joan), she started calling the 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”. (2) However, according to Barney McCallum, the game was officially named after the Prichards’ dog Pickles who would chase the ball and run off with it. According to McCallum, “The Pritchards had a dog named Pickles, and you’re having fun at a party, right? So anyways, what the hell, let’s just call it pickleball.”
 
Others claim both accounts may actually be true. In the early years, no official name was assigned to the game. However a year or two after the game was invented, the Pritchards purchased a cocker spaniel and named it Pickles. As the game progressed, an official name was needed and “pickleball” was it.
 
Continued Growth
 
     Currently, the sport of pickleball is exploding in popularity. The number of places to play has nearly doubled since 2010. There are now well over 2,000 locations on the USAPA’s Places to Play map. The spread of the sport is attributed to its popularity within community centers, PE classes, YMCA facilities and retirement communities. The sport continues to grow worldwide as well with many new international clubs forming and national governing bodies now established in the USA, Canada, Spain and India.