History of Pickleball

The sport of pickleball was created in the United States during the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, Washington. It was developed by U.S. Congressman Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, Jordan Steranka and Barney McCallum. Their intention when they created pickleball was to design a new sport that would be fun, challenging and that everyone could play.

Pickleball was started by using a badminton court that Joel Pritchard had in his backyard. For playing equipment they created wooden paddles that were slightly larger than ping pong paddles and chose to use a perforated plastic ball. The founders created the rules relying heavily on badminton and keeping in mind the original purpose, which was to provide a game that the whole family could play together. At first they placed the net at the badminton height of 5 ft and played by volleying the ball over the net. As the game progressed, the players found that the ball bounced well on the asphalt surface and soon the net was lowered to 3 ft. As they continued to play the rules evolved into what are now the official rules of pickleball.

The Pritchards had a cocker spaniel named Pickles who became interested in this new game. Whenever a ball would come his way, he would take the ball and run off with it. Pickle believed it was “Pickle’s ball” and that is how the game got its name.

Evolution of the Sport

In the early years, pickleball was played by families in their backyards on a hard surface, on the street or anywhere else they could find a flat surface. As the sport grew throughout the 1970s, it evolved from a family activity into a paddle sport with formalized rules. Now pickleball is played in schools, sport clubs and recreation centers throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America and increasingly in other countries.

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