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HOW DID PICKLEBALL GET ITS NAME?

The Story Behind of America’s Fastest Growing sport 

On top of being the fastest-growing sport in America, Pickleball sports a unique name with a sometimes uncertain origin story. 

Fans and players have their assumptions as to how Pickleball really got its name. 

The real story? Let’s find out! 

Pickleball, The Game 

It all started one boring afternoon. 

In 1965, Joel Prichard and Bill Bell were enjoying a family/friend vacation on Bainbridge Island, WA. One day, after a round of golf, they returned to a band of very bored children. 

Before heading to their golf game, these dads had promised their kids a new sport  — and it was time to pay up. 

Joel and Bill were ready for the challenge. 

Joel Prichard immediately looked to the nearby badminton courts. A racket game! He and Bill worked with leftover badminton equipment, carving wooden paddles and imagining new ways to play. 

Finally, they needed a ball. Tennis balls flew too far; shuttlecocks didn’t work either. It turned out that a neighbor boy wanted to see what the excitement was about. He brought his bat and lightweight wiffle ball. It worked! 

In a later interview, Joel said, “We worked on it for two or three days and had it pretty much worked out in four or five days.'' 

A speedy start to a game that would one day take the nation by storm.

Pickleball, The Name 

You may have heard that Joel named their new sport Pickleball after his dog, Pickles. In reality, the dog was named after the sport! 

Joel’s wife Joan thought that the repurposed paddles reminded her of a Pickle Boat rowing crew. Pickle Boat teams were thrown together with the leftover or least experienced rowers. 

It was a tongue in cheek name for a quirky new sport. Joel loved it. 

Pickleball, The Legend

Almost forty years after those first games with makeshift paddles and a borrowed ball, pickleball is still beloved by all ages and its community grows bigger every year. 

The origins of pickleball isn’t just a great family story. It’s a nod to the heart of the game. Joel, Bill, and their kids bonded over making something new, creative, and a whole lot of fun. 

Just like a rag-tag Pickle Boat crew, pickleball players come together from all backgrounds and skill sets. And together we make the game a success. 

Now you know the not-so-secret behind how pickleball got its name. Were you surprised? 

Are you ready to play?

Let us know your thoughts!