Pickleball History: How was Pickleball invented?

Where was Pickleball Invented?

Pickleball was first invented in 1965 by three fathers – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum in Brainbridge Island, which is a quick ferry ride from Seattle, Washington.

The idea first came when their kids got bored with their usual summertime activities and so they thought of creating a game that would entertain them.

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.

In 1967, the first permanent pickleball court was erected on Bainbridge Island. They also started a corporation to protect the sport in 1972. The rest is history!

Now, pickleball has evolved a lot from original handmade equipment into a growing popular sport throughout the US and Canada. Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the US.

Why call it Pickleball?

The name “pickleball” started when Joel Pritchard’s wife, Joan, started calling the game as pickleball because the combination of different sports reminded her of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. 

But one of the founders, Barney McCallum, said that the game was officially named after the Pritchards’ dogs Pickles, who loves to chase the ball and run off with it. 

How is Pickleball played?

Pickleball is played on a rectangular 20” x 44” court that is pretty much the same as a badminton-size court. The court is divided into two sides by a net. There are two sidelines, two baselines: a center line on each side, as well as two non-volley lines which create two non-volley zones that are called kitchen. The center line divides each side into two service courts: the left service and right service courts. 

Now, every point begins with a serve. A pickleball must be served underhand from behind the baseline, cross court into the opposing team’s service court. The serve must clear the net and not land in the kitchen, otherwise you won’t get the points. 

An important rule that you must remember when playing pickleball is the “double bounce rule”. Under this rule, the ball must bounce once on each side before either team may start volleying the ball in the air. 

Pickleball is a fun, social and friendly activity. The rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.

Why do people enjoy pickleball?

A lot of people enjoy playing pickleball because it is a sport that can easily be learned. You don’t need to be a great player in order to learn this sport. In fact, this sport is ideal for all skill levels. Several parks and recreation departments in the US are repurposing tennis courts for pickleball games because of a high demand from the public. 

Pickleball is also an inexpensive and accessible sport. All you need is a basic wooden paddle and balls that you can buy from a retailer for as cheap as $30. 

The Basics of Pickleball

  1. A fun sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong.
  2. Played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net.
  3. Played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes.
  4. Played as doubles or singles.
  5. Can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels

Pickleball’s Rapid Growth as the fastest growing sport in the USA

Over the last few years, pickleball has become one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States and they call the sport as “highly contagious”. In fact, pickleball has had a 650 percent increase in numbers over the last six years according to USAPA or the USA Pickleball Association. Due to its growing popularity in the US, several parks and recreations are now adding pickleball to their sports programming. 

There are many reasons why pickleball is so popular in the US. One is that pickleball is perfect for all skill levels. Whether you are just a beginner or just trying a new sport to play, pickleball is a sport you can learn easily. Two, pickleball is an activity that you can play with your peers or family. It is a great sport to bond with them since this sport is easy to learn and it can also be a fun workout too. And lastly, it’s a great exercise for your mind and body. Pickleball allows you to work on your hand-eye coordination, as well as your balance and reflexes. 

Mental Health Benefits of Playing Pickleball

Playing pickleball is a social activity and through this sport you can have social connections with other people. You can play it with seniors or even kids and adults. So if you are feeling a bit lonely and want to make genuine connections with others through sports, you can try playing pickleball and you’ll be surprised with how many connections that you can make!


Nicole is a pickleball enthusiast who started playing pickleball in 2017. Always trying to improve her game, she shares helpful tips and tricks for people wanting to learn to play pickleball. Its an obsession.

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