After playing golf during the summer, a congressman from Washington State named Joel Pritchard and his friend Bill Bell (a successful businessman) returned to Pritchard's home on Bainbridge Island. They were sitting to meet their families with nothing to do. There was an old badminton court at the same place, so Bell and Pritchard searched for some badminton tools but could not find a complete set of rackets.

They improvised and started playing with a perforated plastic ball and Ping-Pong paddles. They first positioned the net at a badminton height of 60" and volleyed the ball above the net. After a successful weakened, the players found that the ball bounce well on the asphalt surface, and soon they lowered the net's height to 36 inches.

The following weekend, Barney McCallum joined the game. Soon, the three men developed rules, relying strictly on badminton. Keeping in mind the game's original purpose was to design a game that the whole family could play and enjoy together.

Pickleball has progressed from simple rules and original homemade equipment into a popular sport throughout Canada and the United States. The game is increasingly growing internationally as well, and many Asian and European countries are adding Pickleball courts.

The Origin of Pickleball’s Name

The game has an exciting name, especially when there are no pickles used. Some reported reasons behind the name are the following:

  • According to Pritchard's wife, the game is a combination of different sports, so she started calling the game pickleball.
  • And another inventor Barney McCallum said the game was officially named after the Pritchard's dog pickles.
  • Others claim both statements may be true. Because in the early years, no official name was assigned to the game. However, after 1-2 years of game invention, the Pritchard bought a cocker spaniel and named it Pickles. As the game has become popular, an official name was required, and the inventors called their newly designed sport "Pickleball."

The Complete History of Pickleball

1967: the first-ever Pickleball court was built in the courtyard of Pritchard's neighbor and friend, Bob O'Brian.

1972: an organization was designed to protect the invention of this new sport.

1975: a national writer published an article in Tennis magazine about Pickleball. The title of the article was "America's newest racquet sport."

1976: world's first known Pickleball tournament was held at a South Center Athletic Club in Tukwila, Washington. Many of the players were college tennis players who knew very little about the game.

1978: "the other Racquet Sports" book was published and covered Information about Pickleball.

1982: Sid Williams (Pickleball pioneer) started playing and organizing tournaments in Washington state.

1984: the first rulebook for Pickleball was published in March 1984. And the US Amateur Pickleball Association was established to continue the game's advancement on a national level.

1990: the game was being played in all US states.

1992: Pickle-Ball was manufactured in-house with a traditional drilling machine.

1997: the inventor of the Pickleball, Joel Pritchard, passed away at the age of 72.

1999: the first website (Pickleball Stuff) was launched and provided players with products, equipment, and Information about Pickleball.

2001: first time introduced in the Arizona Senior Olympics. And the tournament was played at Happy Trails RV Resort with 100 players.

2003: the game was included for the first time in the Huntsman World Senior Games.

2005: USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) was established as a new corporation for the sport.

2006: another founder Bill Bell passed away at the age of 83.

2008: the USA Pickleball Association published its official Tournament Rulebook in 2008.

ABC's Good Morning America hosted a live segment on Pickleball. This was the first media exposure for the sport.

2009: USAPA launched the Grant Program to help players in constructing new Pickleball courts for new players.

The first USAPA National Tournament for players of all ages was also held in 2009.

2010: USAPA established the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) to foster its growth internationally.

2013: Justin Maloof joined USAPA as the first full-time Executive Director in 2013.

They re-branded the sport with a new logo and blue, white, red color scheme that is more consistent with other US national sports.

2014: USAPA launched the Pickleball channel making it the first professional media group for the sport.

2015: USAPA launched a new book for beginners titled "Pickleball Fundamentals, Master the Basics and Compete with Confidence.

2016: USAPA launched a nationally certified referee certification program.

The Super Senior International Pickleball Association (SSIPA) was established in 2016 and partners with USAPA, and they supported all of its tournaments.

The first US Open Pickleball Tournaments were held in Naples and included the first nationally on-air broadcast on CBS Sports Network.

Pickleball magazine was also launched this year as the sports' first professional full-color print and digital publication.

2017: American Sports Builders Association (ASBA) and USAPA partner to co-author the first official Pickleball construction book titled" Pickleball Courts- a Construction & Maintenance Manual." The book provides detailed technical Information for properly building courts.

The International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA) with USAPA launched a Hall of Fame.

2018: Professional Pickleball Registry (PPR) and USAPA partners in 2018. PPR certified over 1000 new instructors within the first six months.

USAPA members Beverly Youngren and Jennifer Lucore co-authored and published the sport's first historical book titled" History of Pickleball, more than 50 years of fun".

USAPA Facebook team conducted several live matches of the National Championship and reached over 1.5 million viewers.

2019: the Sports Fitness Industry Association 2019 reported that Pickleball remains one of the fastest-growing US sport. The number of participants has reached 3.3 million.

The last of the three founders of the Pickleball, Barney McCallum, passed away at 93.

2020: USAPA re-launched a modern logo and an updated website to strengthen USA Pickleball's image worldwide.


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