The History of Pickleball | Becoming a Sport we Know and Love

The History of Pickleball | Becoming a Sport we Know and Love

Pickleball is a game that has taken the world by storm in recent years. It’s fun, fast-paced and combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. But where did this sport come from? And why is it suddenly so popular? Let's take a look at the history of pickleball and how it came to be.

People Playing Pickleball

From Humble Beginnings

Legend has it that pickleball was created on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1965. It all started when a group of friends; Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum, were trying to come up with a game to entertain their families during the summer months. They wanted something that was easy to learn, fun to play, and didn't require a lot of equipment. The three took a badminton court and lowered the net to just 36 inches high. They then used wooden paddles and a perforated plastic ball, similar to a whiffle ball. The game was a hit with their families, and soon they began to refine the rules and equipment.

As the game grew in popularity, the trio needed a name for their new creation. It was named "pickleball" after the Pritchard family's dog, Pickles, who would chase the ball and run off with it. The name stuck, and soon the sport began to spread across the country.

As pickleball started to gain popularity, Joel Pritchard and Barney McCallum wrote out the first set of rules for the game. They wanted to make sure the game was fair and easy to understand for all players. The first official pickleball tournament was held in 1976, and since then, the sport has continued to grow in popularity.

One interesting fact about pickleball is that it was originally played as a doubles game. However, over time, singles play has become more popular, and there are now official rules for both doubles and singles games. Another fun fact is that pickleball has its own unique terminology. For example, the area where the serving team stands is called the “kitchen,” and players are not allowed to step inside it unless the ball bounces there first. The ball itself is called a “pickleball,” and the scoring system is similar to the old scoring method of Badminton. But more on that in another article.

What makes pickleball so attractive is it's easy to learn and can be played by people of all ages and abilities, from children as young as 4 to adults as old as 90. Pickleball has also become a sport that promotes community and socialisation. Many parks and community centres have pickleball courts available for use, and players often organise social events and tournaments to bring people together. Here in the UK you will now find local leagues, festivals, nationals and the English Open. All organised and operated by Pickleball England. 

Pickleball used to be a simple game for backyard barbecues and family gatherings, but it's grown into something much bigger. Nowadays, it's a sport that's played by pros and amateurs alike in high-stakes tournaments all over the world. In the US, the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) is in charge when it comes to all things pickleball. They make the rules, organise the tournaments, and provide resources for players and coaches. With over 53,000 members, the USAPA is an essential part of the pickleball community.


Large Pickleball Court Set up in sunny California

But why are you hearing about Pickleball now if it's been around for decades? 

In recent years, Pickleball's popularity has skyrocketed, and it's not just regular folks like us who are getting into it. Celebs including Leonardo Di Caprio, Jamie Foxx, Shaquille O'neal and the Kardashians have been spotted donning a paddle and getting into the swing of things on the Pickleball Court. The sport has become so popular in the US that many of the rich and famous have taken too investing in teams in the MLP (Major League Pickleball), including, Gary VaynerChuk, LeBron James, Tom Brady, Kevin Durant, Patrick Mahomes, and Naomi Osaka.

Try it, don't deny it!

The history of pickleball is a fascinating story of how a group of friends came up with a fun game that has now become a worldwide sensation. It’s a sport that’s easy to learn, promotes community, and can be played by people of all ages and abilities. So why not give it a try and see what all the fuss is about? Who knows, you might just become the next pickleball pro!

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