Why Is It Called Pickleball, in Case You Were Wondering

Bill Taylor
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History of Pickleball

A popular sport gaining in popularity in the mid-west thanks in part to the World Pickleball Association (WAPA), pickleball is a hybrid of badminton and tennis. The game is played as doubles on a badminton court, with a baseball-sized plastic ball. Originally called "Plunk" when invented by Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell in the 1960s, the game became popular among the senior set as a safer alternative to tennis and badminton. Pickleball was officially named in 2004, but it wasn't till 2010 that it began to be recognized as a game for the younger generations.

WAPA, formed in 2010, is dedicated to growing the sport nationwide by creating official rules for the game and establishing tournaments and leagues at the national and regional levels.

Rounded pieces of wood called "pickles" were first used as paddles in the early days of the game to prevent the plastic balls from bouncing upon impact and to provide the players with a better grip. The ball resembles a hard cold pickle. This is the origin of both the name of the game and the name of the paddles, which are now made of synthetic materials. The WAPA was formed to "grow participation, introduce the game to new participants, and make pickleball a consistent sport in the Olympics," according to their website.

Why is it Called Pickleball, Anyway?

The game owes its name to the inventor, Joel Pritchard, a former tennis and basketball player and sports enthusiast who observed his fellow retirees getting a workout on a tennis court. Pritchard observed that "Pickleball was designed as a game for all ages and Abilities; a full court game that was simple to learn, easy to get started and forgiving of mistakes." The name origin story is that when asked by his friends what this new sport would be called, Joel answered: "We should call the game 'pickleball' because the ball reminds me of a pickle."

The original game was played with a Wiffle Ball, awash in fingerpaint, but today's game uses a slightly less messy tennis ball. It's a fun family sport, up to four players, with tournaments and competitions held across the nation. If you see people whipping tennis balls across a tennis court, it's not tennis they're playing; it's pickleball. Although, we have to admit that pickleballs are getting a little less slippery and distinctly more pickle-like.

Of Crew and Pickle

If you haven’t heard of pickleball yet, I guarantee you will be amazed by how much fun this game is. A cross between tennis and ping-pong, pickleball brings all the fun of the latter while improving on the former.

Also known as paddle court tennis, pickleball is a fun playground sport for all ages. It requires speed, agility and stamina to play a game that has gone viral in the U.S.A.

Pickleball is played by almost one million participants in the States and will be played in 12,000 official tournaments by 2021. Many activities can keep you busy during the warm summer months, and pickleball is a healthy choice that will be a lot of fun for the entire family.

So, have you ever wondered why pickleball is named as such? We are here to share some pickleball facts and insights with you, on how this sport got its name to the game you play today.

It all started back in 1965, when a couple of enthusiasts created an improvised game using a ping-pong ball and a tennis racket in their backyard. They named the game Pickle-Pit and encouraged their friends to join them for some fun playdates.

Is There a Connection Between the Name and the Family Pet?

Pickleball, a combination of squash, tennis, and badminton, is a new sport making a big splash in the world of leisure activities. And while it's good to know the story behind the sport's name, it's even better to learn about the sport itself once you realize that pickleball is the perfect activity for people of all ages, including older players. Pickleball is easy to learn, fun to play, and a great activity for improving your game. The sport is gaining popularity for many reasons, which you might recognize if you consider playing the sport. So, find out whether pickleball is the game for you, and find out why it is called pickleball.

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is played on a court that measures 20” x 44”, which makes the game faster than tennis or racquetball. The sport is played with a paddle and a plastic ball, which makes it easy to play for many people.

Why the Name Fits

What might seem like a strange name at first, makes perfect sense when you understand the history of the game.

Pickleball was developed back in 1965 in Mountlake Terrace, WA, by a man named Joel Pritchard. Pritchard was an avid player of both tennis and ping-pong and loved the fast-paced action and the competitive nature of these games. He sat down one day to try combining the two and, in the process, came up with an entirely new game that he called Paddle Tennis. This is the common name used to describe this pastime during the time it was in the early developmental stage.

It wasn't until 1966, when he first played the game with his friends, that the sport was given its new name, Pickleball. (Those in the know will also wonder about the origins of the name of Pritchard's project, Paddle Tennis, and wonder if he called his new game Paddle Tennis because he liked the phrase, "Play ball!")

If you aren't aware, pickle is the name of a ball used in the game of ping-pong which is an oblate spheroid in shape with a matte finish and a dot for identification. So, when Pritchard wanted to give his new game a name befitting the game play, he hit a homerun with Pickleball.

Why the Story of the Dog Persists

The story of the dog is a story that spread around the world. The story was popularized in the late 1800's and early 1900's by a variety of writers. The story varies in detail a bit from version to version. But the gist of the story is that there is a dog who had a little boy as it's master. The dog would roam around and bring food back to the little boy. The dog would never bring home chicken bones, however, or the little boy would be violently ill. Some versions include the dog returning to the spot where the little boy was feeding him and finding him dead. The dog returns to the village and lie next to the boy's body, protecting it from scavengers.

The idea of a loyal and faithful dog is an appealing one. As the story spread, it was told to children all over the world. Today, the story of the dog is well known on the island of Madagascar, particularly in the capital city of Antananarivo. It is a popular bedtime story. But the story of a dog that would never bring home a chicken bone is well known in other locations around the world.

Final Thoughts

The best way to get the most out of your Pickleball experience is to read up on the rules. It's easy enough to learn the basics of the game, but having a solid understanding of how to play is critical to success and credibility.

As with most other "new" sports, there are a number of different variations to the rules and ways to play. Everyone has their own way of doing things that they think is best. In fact, the ISPA works hard to come up with rules and regulations that everyone can agree on.

That said, there are definitely some things in the rules that are set in stone and you should know whether you are playing in a pickle ball league, for exercise, or just for fun with your friends.

Also, you will need to know the rules and regulations before playing in an official tournament. You can check out the official rules and regulations here.

Once you have a good grasp on the rules, the next step is to actually play some pickleball and get some experience. All the reading and studying in the world will not bring you success if you don't put it to practice!