Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the United States. But, have you ever wondered about the history of pickleball?

Where it all started?

This article will take a trip down memory lane to go back to the early days of pickleball, how the game was invented, and who invented the game.

It’s actually a very funny story that you are going to want to hear.

Who Came Up With Pickleball And Why Was It Called Pickleball

Pickleball was invented by two friends.

Joel Pritchard, was a Washington congressman, who along with his friend and golf buddy, Bill Bell, a successful business man, invented the game of pickleball.

But, the men had a little help from their families when formulating this game.

Let’s get more into the fun story about why the game was invented.

Why Was The Game Of Pickleball Invented?

This is a family story.

One day after golfing, on a sunny summers’ afternoon, the two men came home to the Bainbridge Island home of Mr. Joel M. Pritchard .

There they found themselves in the company of bored children and decided to play badminton on an old backyard badminton court in an attempt to entertain the kids.

What parent can relate to this?

The problem was that Pritchard and Bell didn’t have any proper badminton equipment to play with. Of course, as all smart parents do, they improvised. Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell put a challenge to their children to invent their own backyard game.

During this time, the men and the kids started to experiment with various types of balls and first they grabbed a pair of ping-pong paddles, but later a pair of wood paddles (close to table tennis tennis paddles). They used a perforated plastic ball like a wiffle ball and wooden paddles to play with.

And they used a badminton net.

During the course of playing the men and children found that the whiffle ball could bounce very well on the asphalt surface and the net was eventually lowered to hip height so that the ball could be hit over the net more easily.

A third friend, Barney McCullum, joined the men in playing the game, the following weekend.

It was during this weekend that Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum invented the rules for the game of pickleball.

Even Bill Gates Has Some Pickleball history

Who Invented the Name?

There are different accounts of how the game got its name. But we might not ever know the true story. The first is from Joel Pritchard’s wife, Joan Pritchard.

According to Joan Pritchard, believed to be the originator of the name, she called the game pickleball because she was reminded of the pickle boat in crew. Oarsmen were generally selected from what was left over from other boats.

It is her piece of pickleball history and contribution to it.

The other account is from Barney McCallum who claims the game was named after the Pritchard’s family dog: Pickles. The dog would often catch the ball and run away with it.

Who knows if this is the true story?

However, the second account has been disputed as the game was invented before the family got their dog. But, as per the McCullum family who also formed part of the first group of pickleball players, the name was obtained from the Pritchard’s family dog.

Where Was Pickleball Invented?

The game of pickleball was invented at the home of Joel and Joan Pritchard in Bainbridge Island, Washington.

The property is located not to far from Seattle, Washington.

When Was Pickleball Invented?

The game of pickleball was invented in the year 1965. The official first permanent pickleball court was built in 1967, in the back yard of Mr. Bob O’Brian, a good friend of Pritchard and his neighbor.

After the initial court was built many other pickleball courts have been built.

Fast forward a few years later to 1972, and the official corporation was formed that would protect the game of pickleball and govern the rules of the game.

It was named: Pickle-Ball, Inc.

In 1975, and 1976 the National Observer and Tennis magazine respectively, published an article about pickleball, and wrote about the newest racquet ball craze to take America by storm.

It wasn’t until spring of 1976 when the first official pickleball tournament was held. It was played in an athletic club in Tukwila, Washington at the South Center Athletic Club.

The First Pickleball Paddle

So what do pickleball and Boeing planes have in common?

In 1984, Arelen Paranto, was the creator of a revolutionary technology that is still used in today’s modern pickleball paddles. He was a Boeing engineer who invented the first compostie pickleball paddle.

Fast forward to today, and there are close to 100 paddle manufacturers that still use this basic technology for composite paddles.

The Advancement of Pickleball

In 1978 a book was published about various types of racquet ball game. The book was titled: The Other Racquet Sports.

It was after this book was published that the pioneer of pickleball, Sid Williams, started to organize tournaments for the game in his home state of Washington.

In 1984, the United States Amateur Pickleball Association published the first official rule book of the game.

From 1984 to 1998, Sid Williams served as the president and the first official executive director of the association.

In 1999, a website was launched, the first ever pickleball website, where players could get all kinds of information on the game such as equipment, pickleball courts locations, and merchandise. It was named: Pickleball Stuff.

By the year 2003, Pickleball Stuff had already listed 39 places to play pickleball in North America. The courts were spread out amongst 10 states across America and many locations in Canada. Many professional pickleball matches have been played since.

In 2005, the United States Amateur Pickleball Association (U.S.A.P.A) was formed.  This pickleball organization was created for the purpose of advancing the game of pickleball and ensuring its growth to a national level.

Today, there is even a Pickleball Hall of Fame

What Does Bill Gates Have To Do With The History Of Pickleball?

What a great story!

Bill Gates’ father was close friends with the inventors of the game, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum.

In fact, the Gates’ family lived not far from the home of Mr. Joel Pritchard.

The Gates family were some of the first pickleball players of the game. Little did they know that this would be one of the fastest-growing sports in the US.

Mr. Gates Senior had a pickleball outdoor court installed at their family home shortly after playing on the original court at the home of Mr. Pritchard.

A Frequent Player

Bill Gates has been playing the game for over 50 years. In fact, he recently published an article in which he describes his history with the game. He goes on to state the he plays frequently, at least once a week and more often during the summer.

Throughout the article you will find pictures of Bill Gates in his youth frequenting various courts with his family and playing the game.

A Low Barrier to Entry

Bill Gates credits the success and advancement of Pickleball to the low barrier to entry. The game, according to him, is very easy to learn.

However, he states, mastering the game is another story.

Players of all ages, both young and old, find it easy to learn the rules of the game.

It is great fun to play!

Picking up on the pickleball rules is very easy. It’s easy to get in on the hot pickleball action.

Easy Access to Information

Bill Gates goes on to explain that the rules of the game can easily be accessed through YouTube videos and tutorials, making it even easier to learn this game. In addition, you can learn all about the pickleball rules online or through videos.

Final Thoughts

The game of pickleball was initially invented out of boredom that 2 parents were trying to curb. It evolved into a sport that could be played by the whole family to curb boredom. Master pickleball rules and you can master the game.

It has seen substantial growth.

There has never been a better time to get in on the hot pickleball action.

What are you waiting for to play to get into America’s newest racquet sport?