Answers to the most frequently asked questions about America's fastest-growing sport—pickleball.
Who invented pickleball?
Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Congressman Joel Pritchard and his friend Bill Bell. According to the USAPA, the first game was played on a badminton court with ping-pong paddles and a whiffle ball. Pickleball was created as a game the whole family could enjoy.
What is pickleball?
Pickleball is an American sport combining elements of badminton, ping-pong, and tennis. It can be played by two or four players at once. Pickleball is played with paddles that resemble oversized ping-pong paddles, and a perforated plastic ball.
Unlike Tennis, pickleball is low-impact and much easier for the average person to pick up. As a result, rec centers and parks across the United States are replacing tennis courts with pickleball courts to accommodate the growing popularity of pickleball.
Where did pickleball get its name?
Accounts vary as to the origins of the name pickleball, but the two most common explanations are:
1. According to Joel Pritchard's wife, she started calling it pickleball because "the combination of different sports reminded me of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats”.
2. According to Barney McCallum, the game was officially named after the Pritchards’ dog Pickles who would chase the ball and run off with it.
Whatever the origin of pickleball, the name has stuck. Today, the sport is more popular than badminton, the court on which it was first played, according to Google Trends.
Why is pickleball so popular?
Pickleball is a sport for everyone. It's easy to pick up, fun to play, and competitive for players of all skill levels. Also, thanks to the relative ease of the game, it's much more low impact than tennis or golf.