Why is it Called Pickleball? How did Pickleball Get its Name? Know the History

“This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission when you buy through our links. Learn More!

Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports, with 3 million active players in the US only. There are a few reasons behind the sky-high popularity of this game, and the funny name is one of them.

If you are a newbie, the first two queries in your mind will be: Why is it called pickleball? How did pickleball get its name?

Don’t take this name seriously! The history behind it is literally funny.

Do you want to know about it? Get ready for a ride in history filled with fun and innovations. And also a journey of creative thinking that makes the game really famous.

So, let’s get straight to the point.

What is Pickleball?

It may surprise you that pickleball is a sport where no pickle exists. Basically, it is a paddle sport that is an amalgam of various sports like badminton, tennis, and Ping-Pong.

Unlike the diverse origin, the game is easy to play and learn. People of all games and physical conditions can try and enjoy it.

However, the game requires a wide range of equipment that closely matches with any tennis game. The first thing you will need is a paddle made of either woods, graphite, or composites. Generally, the paddle is 15” in length and 8” in width with rigid but smooth surfaces.

The ball used for playing pickleball is almost the same as a Wiffle ball but is more durable. There is no strict rule about the color or type of ball.

However, the most used pickleballs for outdoor games are Dura, Top, and Onix. These contain thick walls for enhanced durability. The USA Pickleball Association approved these three balls for outdoor sports.

When it comes to indoor games, Jugs indoor, Dura Big-hole indoor balls, Gamma photon indoor, Onix Fuse indoor balls are the most popular.

Is Pickleball a sport?

Yes, it is. Three racquet sports- badminton, tennis, Ping-Pong, and racquetball merged and fused to evolve the pickleball.

You can play this game both indoors and outdoors. People play it with a tennis-styled net and a badminton-sized court that is around 20 by 44-feet. Mainly, a paddle and a Wiffle ball are needed to play pickleball.

And, about the net, it is set 36 inches high on the edges and 34 inches high in the middle.

Unlike other court and racquet games, pickleball is much simpler. It has some of the easiest and straightforward rules that everyone finds easy to enjoy, even during a vacation.

Both kids and adults can enjoy this game. In fact, the game was developed, keeping every member of the family. The history and evolution of the game will show up soon. Stay put.

As a sport, pickleball is a social and healthy game as well as inexpensive. School gyms, athletic clubs, local parks, and many backyard sports courts have embraced this fantastic game to tie social bonding both in family and community.

Is “Pickleball” Sounds Funny?

“Pickle what?” is the most common reaction of novice players after listening to the name “pickleball.” It sounds funny when you have nothing to do with pickles, but the name is pickleball.

Well, there are reasons for such a name. Despite the two different telltales about the name, both the stories seem equally plausible.
So, that being said, pickleball obtained its name from where? Okay, pin it for later!

Is there any specific reason to named it “Pickleball”

People wonder why this sweet game has such a sour name! Is it for no reason? Or is there anything else behind it?

Yes, there are two different stories behind the name pickleball. One is about a dog, which is claimed by the inventor Barney MacCallum. Another story is about the pickle boat that is claimed by Joel Prichard’s wife, Joan.

One says that the name was after the family dog of Joel Prichard, whereas the other says that it was named after the boat named pickle boat.

History of Pickleball

This sport was invented in 1965, which means it has been around for more than 50 years. Three sports-loving dads own the credit of developing such an easy and fun game. They are Joel Pritchard, William Bell, and Barney McCallum.

These three men invented this game to cheer up their kids during the summer vacations. The place where the game was created is Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, Washington.

So, the journey began in 1965. The three men started creating some simple rules. After two years, in 1967, they constructed the very first permanent pickleball court in Joel Pritchard’s backyard.

A corporation was needed to protect the new sport’s creation. For this, a corporation was formed in 1972.

The very first pickleball tournament was held in 1976 at an athletic club of Washington named the ‘South Center Athletic Club.’

The first book, ‘The other Racquet Sports’ containing detailed information about pickleball, was published in 1978.

This is how a mere attempt of three dads to cheer up their kiddos turned into a popular sport. Today, around 2.5 million people play this game in the US alone.

The Story Behind the Name: How did Pickleball get its name?

People find it funny that a sweet game comes with such a weird name. But it was not unintentionally named like this. Two different stories are well-known for this naming. Let’s get to know more about the origin of the pickleball name.

Version 1: Pickles the Dog

This story started with a cockapoo puppy that was adopted by Joel Pritchard’s daughter. She named the dog pickles.

The dog’s name was found as pickles from their interviews, and it used to chase the Wiffle ball and then run off it. The game was unnamed for the first couple of years.

When they feel that the game needs a name, the inventors and their family members agreed that they would name it after their beloved dog pickles.

Version 2: The Pickle Boat

Another story behind the name pickleball is about the pickle boat. Joel Prichard’s wife (Joan) was a rower, and she says about it.
In rowing, the Pickle boat was the last one that finished the race. So basically, the pickle boat is one that loses the race.

And, this boat is made up of leftover oarsmen from the other teams. So, Joan could relate to the pickleball game, saying that this game was also invented from the leftovers of several sports.

Also, Prichard’s daughter said something about the pickleball name. She claimed that the name was not tribute to the dog because it was not with them until years after that game was first played.

On the contrary, according to Prichard’s daughter, they named the dog (pickles) after the game a couple of years later.

However, one of the inventors, Barney MacCallum, recently said in an interview that the game was actually named after the dog.
So, it is quite impossible to decide which one of the stories is true. Moreover, both of the stories have come from the most credible sources on pickleball.

What Makes Pickleball Amazing?

Numerous pickleball facts made this sport amazing. People from all over the world play this game both indoors and outdoors.

You may ask why this game has gained so much popularity, what makes it so unique?

According to USAPA (USA Pickleball Association), there are some causes why this sport is called “highly contagious.”

An Ideal Game for All Skill Levels

As I mentioned before, the pickleball game’s rules and regulations are so simple that anyone can adapt to the game’s newness. No matter if you are a novice and want to learn something new for fun or a seasoned player, you will get something special from pickleball.

A Great Option for Social Activity

Basically, pickleball was invented to enjoy with the whole family. The pickleball courts’ length is so small that players can be close together and have chitchats between each service. You may wonder how much smaller? Well, four pickleball courts make one tennis court.

Pickleball is a Great Exercise

If you are health conscious and searching for such a game that offers you the opportunity to work on agility, reflexes, balance, and hand-eye coordination, pickleball is the option. Moreover, the older players who no longer can play tennis for physical limitations (e.g., joint, hip, shoulder, or knee problems) can embrace pickleball as an alternative.

Pickleball is Ideal for Parks & Recreation Departments

Because of substantial public demands, most of the parks & recreation departments are repurposing their tennis courts for pickleball. If you want to add a new, exciting game to your recreational offerings throughout the summer, feel free to choose pickleball. It is both affordable and popular.

When did pickleball become popular?

Pickleball has been around for over 50 years. The journey began in 1965, and it is getting popular every day. It looks like very soon, you may find it in major sports events like the summer Olympic or commonwealth games.

According to SFIA (the Sports & Fitness Industry Association), around 2.815 million players were actively involved with pickleball in 2014. The number is 3+ million now. See the change?

Where is pickleball most popular?

From the latest report of 2018, there were more than 3.1 million pickleball players in the US. The last count shows that there were 20,933 pickleball courts throughout the 50 states of the US.

To be more specific, pickleball is the most popular in its birthplace (Seattle, Washington), with 93 pickleball courts. After that, Virginia Beach comes to the second position. It has 43 pickleball courts. If you live in the mainland USA, the nearest pickleball court may be a few blocks away from home.


That’s all, folks, on the history and evolution of the pickle game—the fastest-growing sport with a strange name that gained massive popularity for the last few years. The story began from a backyard in Seattle; today, the whole world enjoys the game.

Hopefully, your query on ‘why is it called pickleball’ and ‘How did pickleball get its name’ are fulfilled. If you want to start playing pickleball, just do it now. It has a lot to offer you. Happy playing!

I'm Dave Ogden, a professional pickleball player from Ogden, Utah. When I'm not dominating the court, I pour my passion into writing a blog, sharing pickleball trips and tricks. Join me as I take you on an exciting journey through the world of pickleball. Let's improve our game together!

Leave a Comment