Why do They call it Pickleball? Origin and History Explained

The image shows sports equipment on a green court. Question: Why is it called pickleball?
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Have you ever wondered why they call it pickleball? Maybe you’ve even asked yourself, “Why not call the sport something else, like racquet-ball or bocce ball?” Well, there is a fascinating story behind the name. It doesn’t matter if you’re a recreational pickleball player or a competitive one looking to up their game. It’s essential to understand why people call it pickleball. It is a great way to appreciate the history of the game and its many fans.

To help take your appreciation for the game to a new level, we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to pickleball’s origin story. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about why call it pickleball – from its roots in badminton and tennis to what makes it so popular today. So, let’s dive into this article.

The Origin of the Name Pickleball

You may wonder why this beloved combination of badminton, table tennis, and tennis is called pickleball. The good thing is you’re not alone. The origin of its name is a bit of a mystery. The most widely accepted theory dates back to 1965[1] when two Americans—Joel Pritchard (a congressman) and Bill Bell (an employee at a local yacht club)—created the game in the backyard of their summer home in Washington.

Many people believe their families had grown so bored during their summer vacation that they decided to make a new game to pass the time. They named it “Pickleball” after their dog Pickles, who used to chase after stray balls! While there’s no definitive proof that this theory is true, it is the most likely explanation. And if it’s inaccurate, we can all agree on one thing: Pickles was present during the game’s creation. It makes him an honorary grandfather of this game!

How Pickleball Got Started

If you’re wondering why they call it pickleball, here’s your answer. The sport was started by a few friends in Seattle looking for an entertaining and new way to stay fit. They decided to invent their own sport, which combined the elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. As a joke, the game was ultimately named pickleball after one of the players’ dogs, Pickles. Since then, pickleball has grown exponentially in popularity from its humble beginnings in 1965. It has become one of the fastest-growing sports worldwide due to its accessibility and fun factor.

The equipment needed is minimal and low-cost; a paddle and ball are required for play. It’s also easy to learn – even kids can pick it up quickly! With solid rules and formal etiquette, anyone can enjoy learning and playing pickleball without worrying about too much technical knowledge or special training. No matter how you look at it, pickleball is a fun activity that has brought people together worldwide through its simple yet strategic gameplay.

The Early Days of Pickleball

So, how did pickleball get its name? Well, it all started in 1965 with three fathers looking to keep their kids active and entertained on a summer day. These three men were Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. To come up with something fun to do, they used some old badminton gear and some crudely made wooden paddles to create a game that was an adapted version of badminton. The game was created spontaneously and did not have an official name. But Pritchard’s daughter cleverly suggested using the family’s pet cocker spaniel “Pickles” as an inspiration for the name. And just like that, the game now known as pickleball came into being.

It’s said that Pritchard’s daughter saw Pickles running around and chasing after errant shots—much like players do during a pickleball match—so she dubbed it “Pickleball.” Since then, pickleball has grown in popularity throughout North America and worldwide. It’s an accessible sport. People can play it both indoors and outdoors. This makes it ideal for casual play or serious tournaments. With its unique combination of rules from tennis, badminton, and table tennis, it’s easy to see why this quirky sport has become so popular!

The Pickleball Paddle and Ball

Another essential thing to know about pickleball is the racquet and the ball. The pickleball paddle’s shape is similar to a table tennis paddle but slightly more prominent. It’s made of wood or graphite. And it has a rubber head cover that gives you more control when you hit the ball.

Regarding the pickleball, you have two choices: plastic or wood. Both are traditional, but there are different choices out there. Color-coded balls are popular among players because they’re easier to see when they hit them.


The weight of the pickleball is usually about 0.9-1 ounce (25-27 grams). This weight makes it easier for players to hold onto their racket and can also bounce well on any surface.


The bounce of a pickleball is one of its defining features; balls must be able to bounce between 53-58 cm (21-23 in) when dropped from a height of 1 meter (3 feet). This makes the game easier for players who want to take only a few steps to return the ball.

Not only does this make the game more enjoyable, but because the ball bounces at such an accessible angle. It’s also easier and safer for kids (and adults!) when they play pickleball.

What Are the Different Levels of Pickleball?

Pickleball, a popular racquet sport, offers different levels of play for enthusiasts of all skill sets. Beginners can start at the recreational level, focusing on learning the basics and enjoying friendly matches. For intermediate players, the competitive level allows for a more dynamic gameplay and strategic maneuvers. Lastly, professional tournaments showcase the highest skill level, attracting skilled players who compete in the elite group of pickleball. The different levels of pickleball accommodate players with varying abilities and ambitions.

How the Game of Pickleball Spread

Have you ever wondered how the sport of pickleball got so popular? There’s a fascinating story behind it, and it’s one of the most exciting pieces in this puzzle. It all started in 1965 when Joel Pritchard, an American congressman from Washington State, introduced pickleball as a family game. The Pritchard family had just returned from a Seattle vacation, and their children complained of boredom. They decided to create a game that all could enjoy. This turned out to be the beginning of pickleball!

Adaptations of Existing Games

But what inspired the Pritchards to create pickleball? They combined elements from badminton, tennis, and ping pong into one sport. Joel used his badminton court and made a modified version of all three sports into one—hence the birth of pickleball.

The Name Pickleball

Now for the fun part—the naming process. According to the legend, Joel’s wife Joan came up with the name after their pet dachshund, “Pickles,” managed to roll into their garage and knock over a shared yellow ball that their children were using during playtime. The Pritchard thought it fitting to use Pickles’ name as an homage; thus, they named it “Pickleball.” Since then, this marvelous game has seen rapid growth around the world. Once people understand just how much fun pickleball can be and what leisurely activities can be done with it. Thanks to its accessible nature that welcomed all skill levels—it’s no surprise why this sport caught on so quickly!

Pickleball Today: A Sport for All Ages

Nowadays, pickleball has become one of the fastest-growing sports in the US. With a unique combination of strategy, coordination, and competitive spirit, it appeals to players of all ages and skill levels.

The Rules

Pickleball is very similar to tennis. With some minor tweaks, the pickleball court size and net height must adjust perfectly for starters. The court measures 20 x 44 feet for doubles (20 x 40 for singles), and the net stands 36 inches high in the center. Players use a paddle made from graphite or composite materials to hit a waffle-like ball (made from plastic or rubber) over the net. Other than that, the game follows basic tennis rules. Each team takes turns hitting the ball over the net into their opponent’s side of the court until one team fails to return it. Scoring is also like tennis – teams get one point whenever they successfully return a volley. When serving in a game, a team can win two points if they win a rally or seven points if they hit an “ace,” which is a winner that the opponents can’t return.


If you want to play pickleball today, you only need four pieces of equipment—two paddle balls (generally plastic or rubber). But you can also go for more complex versions like foam balls); and a portable net system you can set up anywhere. You can set up the courts outdoors with concrete floors. But since it’s such an accessible sport, you can adapt it wherever you go! So, if you’re looking for something fun, you should play this game. You’ll surely like this game.

Final Thought

It is an exciting and popular sport combining badminton, tennis, and ping pong elements. It has been gaining in popularity all over the world. Now that you know, why do they call it pickleball? You can join in the fun and play with your friends and family. The game can be as competitive or relaxed as you want it to be, and it’s a great way to explore different strategies and sharpen your reflexes.

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