History of Pickleball Name

The sport of pickleball has gained immense popularity in recent years, attracting players of all ages and levels of athleticism. However, the origin and history behind the name “pickleball” is often a topic of curiosity among enthusiasts. In this blog post, we will delve into the fascinating History of Pickleball Name how pickleball got its name.

Origins and History of Pickleball Name

Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, by Congressman Joel Pritchard and his friend Bill Bell. The sport was initially created to provide entertainment for the families during the summer. Pritchard and Bell combined elements of various sports, including tennis, badminton, and ping pong, to create a game suitable for players of all ages.

History Of Pickleball Name

The Naming Debate

As pickleball gained popularity and spread to other regions, the game remained nameless for a while. According to one theory, the game was named after Pritchard’s family dog named Pickles. The dog had a habit of chasing stray balls and Pritchard’s wife Joan reportedly commented that the game reminded her of “pickle boat”, a term used in crew to describe oarsmen chosen from the leftovers of other boats.

The “Pickles” Theory

While the “Pickles” theory seems plausible, it is important to note that there are conflicting accounts regarding the naming of the sport. Some people argue that the dog Pickles was acquired years after the game’s invention, making it unlikely that the name originated from the dog.

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The “Pickleball” Theory

Another theory suggests that the sport was named after the pickle boat in crew. However, this theory is also met with some skepticism. Critics argue that the game lacks any obvious connection to rowing or crew, making this theory less convincing.

Anecdotal Evidence

Despite the lack of concrete evidence, many individuals who were involved in the early days of pickleball support the “Pickles” theory. According to them, the dog Pickles would often run off with the ball during games, leading to the name “pickleball” being adopted.

Official Recognition of the Name

Regardless of the origin of the name, the term “pickleball” eventually gained official recognition. In 1972, the first pickleball court was constructed outside of Seattle, and the first pickleball rulebook was published in 1984. As the sport continued to grow, organizations such as the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) were established to provide official rules, regulations, and guidelines.

Why is it called Pickleball?

Pickleball’s Worldwide Popularity

In recent years, pickleball has experienced a surge in popularity not only in the United States but also worldwide. Its accessibility, social nature, and ease of learning have contributed to its widespread adoption. The sport is now played by millions and has become a staple in recreational centers, schools, retirement communities, and professional sports facilities.


The History of Pickleball Name and origin of the word “pickleball” may remain debatable, but its undeniable growth and popularity are evident. Regardless of how the sport got its name, pickleball continues to bring joy, competition, and excitement to people of all ages and skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a beginner, the name pickleball now represents an incredible sport that fosters camaraderie, fitness, and fun.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How did pickleball get its unique name, History of Pickleball Name?

The name “pickleball” actually has an interesting backstory. The game was created in 1965 by Congressman Joel Pritchard, who played the game with his family on their Bainbridge Island, Washington backyard. Legend has it that Pritchard’s dog, Pickles, would chase after the ball and hide in the bushes, often interrupting their game. Hence, the name “pickleball” was born!

2. Was the game called anything else before it was named pickleball?

Interestingly, yes! Before the game got its iconic name, it was initially referred to as “Pritchard’s Pickleball” after Joel Pritchard. However, as the game’s popularity grew and spread beyond the Pritchard family, it eventually dropped the possessive and became simply known as “pickleball.”

3. Does the name “pickleball” have any connection to the food “pickles”?

Despite its name, pickleball doesn’t have any direct connection to the food “pickles.” The game was named after Joel Pritchard’s dog, Pickles, who became a playful fixture during their matches. The delicious tangy snack we know as pickles unfortunately doesn’t have a place in this game’s history.

4. Are there any other theories or rumors about the origin of the name?

While the story of Joel Pritchard’s dog remains the most widely accepted explanation for the name, there have been a few other theories and rumors over the years. Some believe that the name came from the pickle boat, which is an oar-powered vessel used in rowing. Others suggest that “pickleball” was simply a playful name chosen to match the fun and energetic nature of the game, without any specific historical references.

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5. Has the name “pickleball” always been universally accepted?

Interestingly, the name “pickleball” wasn’t immediately embraced by everyone involved with the sport. In the early years, some players and enthusiasts preferred to call it “Paddle Tennis” or “Racketball.” However, as the game continued to gain popularity, “pickleball” became the prevailing name, eventually becoming recognized and adopted worldwide, and is now synonymous with the sport we know and love.