You probably are surprised to learn that Pickleball is an amalgamation of several racket sports if you’ve ever played it. It was invented using excess equipment when two Bainbridge Island, WA, dads were looking for a novel way to entertain their bored kids. What is surprising is how quickly Pickleball grew in popularity and how a sport invented in the 1960s on a small island is played competitively all over the world today.
You probably already know Pickleball has various terminology, since it is a racquet game with numerous terms. There are several theories about how Pickleball came to be, ranging from the founder’s dog to the name of the newest racquet game in America. In its original form, did it include pickles instead of plastic balls?
It is the aim of this article to answer a question pickedleball players have asked at some point: why is it called pickleball? How did it get its name?
A Brief History of Pickleball
As to how the name “pickleball” came about, there are two competing stories you could tell regarding how this unique sport got its name in the first place:
The first version: Pickles the dog
During the early days, Pickles was the family dog of one of the inventors, Joel Prichard. Pickles would chase stray pickleballs into the bushes and take them with him. There was no official name for the game for several years. Inventors had yet to learn that it would continue even after the summer.
With the game becoming a mainstay of summer vacations, Pickleball began to require a name. Ultimately, the inventors and their families honored the beloved family dog by calling the game Pickleball.
A second version: The Pickle Boat
In the second account, Joel Prichard’s wife, Joan, tells us that the name came from the term “pickle boat.” In rowing, pickle boats are usually composed of leftover rowers from other teams. She also mentioned how Pickleball is made up of leftovers from other sports. The name stuck with the game after the inventors began calling it Pickleball.
As creator Barney McCallum said, “Everyone involved knows the name came from the dog.” Peggy Prichard, the Prichard’s daughter, said, “It wasn’t named after the dog because we didn’t get it until years after the game started.”
According to our research, Pickleball takes its name after the pickle boat rather than the dog, making it a bit more complicated. If you have visited Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island, where Pickleball originated, you may have seen rowers practicing there. Sailing, motor boating, and rowing are all popular on Bainbridge Island.
There were business people and politicians who invented Pickleball. The inventors were able to tell a good story. Pickleball’s success is due primarily to its spread. The first question people ask when you introduce them to Pickleball is, “What is that name?” Saying it’s named after a family pet is more straightforward than explaining what a “pickle boat” is.
The dog-origin store may be a fabrication based on multiple accounts online. With the year 2023 right around the corner, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest changes to the rules of pickleball. To learn more about these changes, visit our page on 2023 Pickleball Rules.
Joel Pritchard was the best-known member of the House of Representatives from 1973 to 1985; Joel was a member of the Democratic Party and served as Lieutenant Governor of Washington. Joel served as a member of the Washington State House of Representatives and the Washington State Senate during the Pickleball boom of the 1960s. In addition, Joel served as a sergeant in the United States Army during the Cold War.
He invented Pickleball while living on Bainbridge Island. Joel Pritchard passed away from lymphoma on October 9, 1997. He is an inaugural member of the Pickleball Hall of Fame.
Barney McCallum As an employee at Griffin Envelope Company in Seattle, Barney Pritchard played Pickleball in the summer with Joel Pritchard. He was instrumental in developing the sport’s rules and shared the game with others on Bainbridge Island.
After Pickleball emerged, Barney and his family moved back to Magnolia, a neighborhood north of Seattle, for the winter. Eventually, Barney built his court, where the rules were drafted. Several rule changes were implemented early on, including shifting the Non-Volley Zone from six to seven feet from the net.
A family sport on Bainbridge Island, Pickleball quickly became a national sport when Barney founded Pickleball Inc. in 1972, the first company to sell pickleball equipment. He sold the first pickleball sets from his house for 29.50.
The Birthplace of Pickleball
With a year-round population of around 23,000 people, Eagle Harbor is one of the larger urban areas in the United States and is easily accessible via ferry from downtown Seattle. Eagle Harbor is also known for its boating culture, with sailboats regularly parked in its two marinas.
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Many people, including Amazon and Microsoft executives today, enjoy vacationing on Bainbridge Island with their families. In 1965, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum, who had invented Pickleball that year, were vacationing on Bainbridge Island with their families.
Pickleball Timeline and Highlights
1965 – Pickleball first appeared on Bainbridge Island. The same year doesn’t seem to be specific. Some accounts say the game originated as early as 1963 or as late as 1966.
1967 – A permanent tennis court is built in Magnolia, Seattle, by Barney McCallum in the backyard of his neighbor
1972 – The Pickle-ball Inc. was formed in Barney McCallum’s home to sell pickleball starter kits
1976 – Tukwila, Washington, plays host to the first pickleball tournament
1984 – The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) opens, and its first official rules are published
1984 – Arlen Paranto, an engineer at Boeing, constructs the first graphite paddle
1990 – all 50 states have now adopted Pickleball
1997 – Joel Pritchard passes away at the age of 72 after years as a U.S. Congressman and co-inventor of Pickleball.
2008 – The number of pickleball facilities in the U.S. and Canada has increased by over 400
2017 – Pickleball Hall of Fame established. Joel Pritchard and Barney McCallum are among the others
2019 – Pickleball is played by over 2.6 million people in the U.S., with over 7,200 locations to play across North America, Canada, Europe, and the world.
Overall, by understanding pickleball ratings and skill levels, you can track your progress and work towards becoming a better player. To learn more about identifying pickleball skill levels and ratings, check out this article.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Several pickleball clubs in Naples, Florida, have claimed their unofficial title as Pickleball Capital of the World, according to the unofficial title given by the locals. As well as hosting the annual Minto U.S. Open Pickleball Championship, the city is also home to the Naples Pickleball Center, which has 60 well-maintained pickleball courts open to all.
Barney McCallum joined the game and created the rules for Pickleball. All three men remembered that the game meant to be a game the whole family could play when bored.
An ace is an epic service the opponent cannot return, and the point goes to the ace—Dillball – a shot that is inbounds and bounces once (a live ball). A dink shot is a shot that falls into your opponent’s “kitchen” Falafel is a shot that falls short because you fail to hit the Pickleball with any power.
There is no doubt that Pickleball is one of the most popular sports in the country today
It’s Been Around for 50 Years
In the beginning, it was three men, a few bored kids, and the dream of what could be
The sport developed quickly from 1965 to 2020 and gradually became popular in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States of America, then spread to other places in the meantime. A study conducted by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association in 2021 and 2022 found that over 4.8 million people played the sport in the year 2021 and 2022.
It’s important to realize that the name pickleball’s origin is more precise than some may believe. Some say it came from the family dog, whereas others have suggested that it comes from a term commonly used in sailing and rowing.
As odd and random as Pickleball may seem, the game’s name perfectly describes its mysterious and eclectic nature. The sport is also becoming more accessible, making it an excellent option for the whole family to enjoy.