What is the History of Pickleball, and When was Pickleball Invented?

Pickleball is one of the trendiest sports these days. Its popularity rose to prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic when team-oriented activities were sanctioned to observe social distancing.

Since all group activities were avoided during the pandemic, people transitioned to sports that require fewer players. It was then that pickleball became intensively popular. Because it is one of the few sports which proffers the same benefits as team-oriented sports and requires a few players. 

However, little is known regarding the history of pickleball and who invented pickleball. Check out the following context if you are curious about pickleball’s origin and want to know it comprehensively. 

What is the History of Pickleball, and When was Pickleball Invented

When was Pickleball Invented?

To elaborate on the history of pickleball, let’s begin with when was pickleball invented and who invented pickleball. 

Pickleball was invented in 1965 by three friends, Barney McCallum, Joel Pritchard, and Bill Bell. Their kids were bored of playing conventional sports (tennis, badminton, baseball, etc.). That is why the three friends invented a new sport by combining badminton, tennis, and ping pong. 

The pickleball court is inspired by a tennis court but is smaller in size. Similarly, the serving tool in pickleball is a paddleboard, a mixture of ping pong paddle and badminton racket. However, the origination story of this sport is not as simple as it seems. Let’s dive into its history to understand where did pickleball originate and what its background is. Also, check the Pickleball vs. Tennis Shoes.

History of Pickleball 

Joel Pritchard and his wife Jean used to spend their summers with the kids at their second home in Bainbridge Island. In the 1965 summer, they also invited Bill Bell and his wife to spend their holidays with them. 

One day Bill and Joel saw Joel’s son complaining about how there was nothing good and exciting to do on Bainbridge Island. To this, his dad replied, “why does he not make up a game of his own?” When Frank frowned upon this, implying it was something impossible, the 40-year-old Joel took it as a challenge and decided to create a new game.  

In the backyard of Joel’s home, there was a badminton court of dimensions 44×20 inches. Joel and Bill used the same court as an arena for the new sport. Next, they used a perforated ball and paddles from the ping pong as the accessories for the sport. 

History of Pickleball

However, there was a significant problem the paddles kept breaking. The paddles could not withstand throws from such a vast distance and failed on the tennis court. That is when they called Barney McCallum– a pro at DIYs. 

Barney constructed sturdier, more reliable, and stronger paddles for the game. After that, he became an integral part of the team and helped construct the sport’s rules and equipment. Soon they finished creating the game, and their kids seemed to love the sport. 

Where did the Name Pickleball Come From?

Now you are familiar with the history of pickleball, let’s scrutinize how did pickleball get its name. There are two popular theories behind the name of this sport. These include; 

1. Leftover Pickle Boat Crew

According to Joel Pritchard’s wife, Jean, pickleball was a mixture of sports like badminton, tennis, and ping pong. This combination of sports reminded her of the leftover crew in the ‘pickle boat’ race. Therefore, she suggested the name ‘pickleball’ for the game after the non-starter part of the pickle boat. 

Frank Pritchard confirmed they heard the name Pickle Ball (later changed to Pickleball) from their mother. She thought that just like the non-starter rowers were sorted into pickle boats, the pickleball game seemed to be a random mixture of different sports. 

2. Pickles Dog Theory 

During an interview in 1968, Joel jokingly said the game was named after their dog ‘pickles.’ When the neighbors and his wife opposed this theory, he justified his joke by saying no one would remember it. Also, check the How To Go Pro In Pickleball.

However, it got stuck in the interviewer’s mind, and he specifically mentioned it in the transcript. This statement offended Joel’s wife and his neighbors. But years later, when McCallum was asked about the origin of the pickleball name, he said he supported the ‘dog theory.’ 

Which Theory is True? 

The dog theory may sound fun and exciting, but unfortunately, it is untrue. Joel’s dog ‘pickles’ wasn’t adapted when the sport was created. It implies that the pickleball was named way before the Pritchard family adopted the dog. 

Besides, Frank Pritchard strongly credits his mom for naming the sport. Therefore, all evidence supports the pickle boat theory, indicating that Joan Pritchard named pickleball. 

Where did the Name Pickleball Come From?

When Did Pickleball Become Popular? 

Though pickleball has been around for some time, it wasn’t until 2020 that it became intensively popular. During the COVID-19 pandemic, people sought light yet effective sports that could be played alone or with fewer players.

It was then that pickleball came into the limelight and became one of the trendiest. Even after the pandemic, the popularity of the sport didn’t subside. It is because this sport has gained full exposure, and people are now aware of its benefits.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What was the original purpose of the pickleball game?

Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell came up with the idea of pickleball because Joel’s son Frank was bored of playing conventional games. Therefore, he decided to make up a new game by combing tennis, ping pong, and badminton.

Which country did pickleball originate from?

Pickleball was created by three friends, Joel, Bill, and Barney, in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, US, at Joel Pritchard’s summer home.

Where is pickleball most popular in the world?

Naples, Florida, is the place where pickleball is the most famous. The sport is so popular there that Florida is often regarded as the “Pickleball Capital.” Naples is also home to 60-plus well-maintained pickleball courts in Naples Pickleball Centre.

What were the initial motivations behind creating pickleball?

Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum wanted to create a game that could be played by the entire family. They aimed for a sport that combined elements of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong, with equipment suitable for players of all ages.


It has only been a few decades since pickleball was formed. Compared to other conventional sports, it might not be that globally popular. But in the coming few years, it is evident that pickleball will excel. 

We hope you find our article informative and are now familiar with the history of pickleball. If you want to know more about pickleball, its rules, and gameplay, check out our website. Our platform is dedicated to pickleball and aims to bring awareness to this sport with our articles.

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