Pickleball History: Why is It Called Pickleball?

Individuals engaged in a game of pickleball in 1965, capturing a historical moment of early pickleball gameplay and social interaction.

Pickleball is a sport that has captured the hearts of millions around the world. It has been gaining popularity day-to-day among the players. Have you ever thought about the interesting history behind the game we all know and love? From its birth to its evolution into the dynamic sport. The story of this game is truly entertaining. In this blog, we will discuss about pickleball origin, spread and growth, recognitions and popularity over the years. Let’s take a ride on a journey through the fascinating history of Pickleball.

Table of Contents

Pickleball’s Timeline (1965-2023)

Here is a timeline highlighting the history of pickleball:

1965: Pickleball is invented in the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA. Joel Pritchard, a congressman, and Bill Bell, a successful businessman, create the game to entertain their families during a summer weekend.

1967: Bob O’Brian, the neighbor of Pritchard, constructs the first official pickleball court in his backyard. Pritchard and Bell collaborate with Barney McCallum to establish the first official rules of pickleball.

1972: Pickleball Inc. was founded by Joel Pritchard for supporting the sport’s growth and development.

1975: Pickleball gained media attention when The National Observer published an article about it in Tennis magazine, hailing it as “America’s newest racquet sport.”

1976: The first-ever pickleball tournament took place in Tukwila, Washington.

1984: The United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA) was founded to promote and govern the sport.

1990: Pickleball had spread to all 50 states, showcasing its widespread popularity across the United States.

2001: The first official USAPA National Tournament takes place in Sun City West, Arizona.

2010: The International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) establishes its mission to promote the sport globally, with the goal of including pickleball in the Olympic Games.

2023: The sport continues to expand globally, with more tournaments, clubs, and players joining the pickleball community.

Who Invented Pickleball?

In 1965, a game called Pickleball was invented by Joel Pritchard, William Bell, and Barney McCallum on Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA
(Image Credit: Pickleball Hall of Fame)

The sport of Pickleball was created back in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Once upon a time, three friends named Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum were planning a weekend gathering with their families. They wanted to come up with a fun activity that everyone could enjoy together.

After brainstorming for a while, they finally came up with an idea. They decided to create a new game that would be perfect for their weekend getaway. When faced with a shortage of equipment, these resourceful individuals came up with a clever solution. They planned to lower the badminton net and used ping pong paddles and a plastic ball to keep the game going. It just goes to show that with a little creativity and ingenuity, anything is possible!

Why is It Called Pickleball?

The name “pickleball” has an interesting origin as well. According to popular belief, the sport was originally named “Pickle’s Ball” in honor of the Pritchard family’s pet dog, Pickles. The dog was known for chasing after the ball and hide it in the bushes. Over time, the name was shortened to “pickleball.”

Spread and Growth of Pickleball (1970s)

Pickleball was originated in the Pacific Northwest, United States. The 1970s were a crucial time for pickleball as it began its growth and spread across America. The National Observer published an article about pickleball, describing it as “America’s newest racquet sport.” This fun and exciting sport quickly spread throughout the region, capturing the attention of many enthusiasts. As the years went by, more and more people began to take notice of this unique game. It wasn’t long before it started to gain interest in other states across the country. The sport quickly became a hit among players with its easy-to-learn rules and fast-paced action.

The first-ever pickleball tournament took place in Tukwila, Washington, in 1976. It was a significant moment in the sport’s development. This event marked the beginning of a new era for pickleball and since then, the sport has come a long way.

National and International Recognition (1980s)

The 1980s were a game-changing decade for pickleball. It gained recognition on a national and international level. It was primarily struggling to get recognition as a sport for many years. Finally, it receives the recognition it deserved which was a great moment for the sport

After being recognized, pickleball began to make waves in the United States. It was more common to see pickleball courts popping up in parks and recreation centers across the country. This newfound popularity was largely due to the tireless efforts of pickleball enthusiasts working for years to promote the sport.

Popularity of Pickleball Over The Years (1990s)

people playing pickleball

In 1990s, pickleball was living in its prime time. It had expanded to all 50 states, experiencing huge popularity throughout the United States. One of the reasons why pickleball became so popular during this time was its accessibility. It can be played with just a few basic items, such as a paddle and a ball. Unlike other sports, it doesn’t require expensive equipment or specialized training. The enthusiasts of the game started to establish more formal rules and equipment specifications. This helped to create a more structured and consistent experience for players. 

The learning curve is low, so you won’t feel overwhelmed or intimidated. The community is incredibly friendly and welcoming which encourage people of all ages come together and enjoy this game. Pickleball has been gaining more and more attention lately. The sport has been introduced in various platforms such as schools, retirement communities and recreational facilities all over the countries. It’s exciting to see how this sport is becoming more accessible to the people around the world.

The social media has played a vital role in connecting pickleball enthusiasts. The players can share pickleball strategies, tips and techniques to each other through various social media platforms. This has created a sense of community among pickleball players. Now, they can connect with like-minded individuals who share their passion for the sport. Social media has made it easier than ever for pickleball enthusiasts to connect and engage with one another. Whether discussing the latest techniques or sharing their experiences on the court.

Pickleball in the Future (2023-Ongoing)

Elderly individuals enjoying a game of pickleball on a sunny day at the community center.

Pickleball has become a widely popular sport and is played by millions of people worldwide. Its popularity is on a steady rise, and more and more people are embracing the game every day. But what does the future hold? As we look toward the future, it’s clear that pickleball has a bright road ahead. 

Nowadays, more and more people are discovering pickleball. This leads to the belief that the future of this sport is incredibly promising. It’s an exciting time for this sport and its community, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.

One of the reasons for pickleball success is its adaptability for players with diverse physical abilities. This makes it an ideal sport for inclusion in adaptive sports programs. Pickleball is a great way for people with disabilities to stay active and engage in a fun and competitive sport. 

Accessibility is another key factor that is contributing to the sport’s bright future.
The players can play on various surfaces, including dedicated courts, gymnasiums, or even modified tennis courts. This adaptability makes it highly suitable for different environments. Flexibility plays a vital role which allows for greater participation and the establishment of local pickleball communities. The organizers are noticeably increasing the number of pickleball tournaments at regional, national, and even international levels. This indicates a positive sign for the sport’s future.

Moreover, as the popularity of pickleball continues to soar, more investment is pouring into the development of equipment and facilities. They are designing advanced rackets, balls and court surfaces to enhance the playing experience. Pickleball is getting huge exposure from the media and online platforms. As a result, the new players and fanbase of this sport is rapidly increasing. The social media platforms and streaming services are providing opportunities for showcasing pickleball matches and competitions to a global audience.

United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA)

The United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA) was established in 1984. Its primary goal was to become the governing body for the sport. Since then, the USAPA has been instrumental in promoting and developing pickleball across the country. They have organized tournaments and set standards for the game.

In the same year, the first rulebook for pickleball was released. One of the most major developments in this sport has been establishing standardized rules. These rules ensure fair play and competitive matches. They also promote the sport at local, national, and international levels. It was important for players to have a clear set of guidelines. It allowed them to focus on honing their skills and enjoy the game while contributing to the growth of pickleball.

International Federation of Pickleball (IFP)

The International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) was established in 2010. The IFP’s goals are to make official rules for pickleball and organize international tournaments. The major reason for establishing the IFP was to promote the game internationally. Additionally, it aimed to include pickleball in the Olympics as an official sport.

The International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) has played a vital role in organizing tournaments like world championships. It has created a platform for collaboration and friendly competition among players. Overall, their dedication to the sport has been impactful to its growth and popularity.

Pickleball has come a long way since its birth and has now gained global recognition. Over the years, the sport has crossed borders and become a favorite pastime in many countries worldwide. Its growing popularity has caught the attention of international audiences.


Pickleball, once a casual backyard game has grown into a popular sport in the world. The people love this game and are very passionate about it. It started small but now it’s known all around the world. Pickleball appeals to everyone, no matter their age, gender, or skill level. The players are dedicated to the game, and that’s what made it so successful.

It’s incredible how this simple game has become a global phenomenon and bringing people together from everywhere. Pickleball’s history shows how connections and joy can come from a simple game among friends. If you want to try a fun and exciting new sport, pickleball might be perfect for you! Just grab a paddle and find a court, and you’re all set. Give it a try and you might discover your new favorite hobby!

FAQ: Pickleball History

In 1965, a game called Pickleball was invented by Joel Pritchard, William Bell, and Barney McCallum on Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA.

Pickleball began to spread to neighboring communities and states in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As players moved and shared the game with others, it started to gain interest in various parts of the United States.

Yes, the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) is the governing body for pickleball in the United States, and it has been instrumental in developing rules, promoting the sport, and organizing tournaments.

Additionally, the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) oversees the sport’s global development.

Pickleball’s popularity has surged due to its accessibility, appeal to a wide range of ages, and relatively easy learning curve. Its social and inclusive nature, as well as the active efforts of pickleball communities, have also contributed to its rapid growth in recent years.


Hello, fellow pickleball enthusiasts! My name is Sayham, and I am the proud solo founder of PickleDrive. As an avid pickleball player, expert, and editor of Pickledrive, I am thrilled to welcome you to our ultimate destination for all things pickleball.

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