When Did Pickleball Become a Sport?

Pickleball is a sport that has gained widespread popularity in recent years. With a unique combination of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, this fast-paced game has captivated players of all ages and skill levels.

However, have you ever wondered when exactly pickleball became recognized as an official sport? In this blog post, we will explore When Did Pickleball Become a sport? Origins of pickleball and trace its journey from a simple backyard game to a full-fledged sport with a large following.

The Origins of Pickleball

The story of pickleball dates back to the summer of 1965, when Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington State, and his friend Bill Bell decided to create a new game to keep their families entertained during a lazy weekend. The two men faced a challenge of finding an activity that could be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels, including their children. They began by gathering some basic equipment: a badminton net, some ping pong paddles, and a perforated plastic ball.

When Did Pickleball Become a Sport?

They set up the makeshift court in Pritchard’s backyard and started playing. The rules were simple – players had to hit the ball over the net, and the ball had to bounce once on each side before being returned. This ensured that rallies would last longer and players would have a chance to make strategic shots.

The Naming of the Sport

The game quickly gained popularity among their families and friends, and they decided to name it after their family dog, Pickles, who would often chase after the ball and run off with it. As more people started playing the game, it became clear that it needed a more structured set of rules and an official name.

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In 1967, pickleball was officially named as a sport, with specific rules and regulations. Pritchard’s friend, Barney McCallum, who was a successful businessman and experienced in developing sports, helped refine the rules and made improvements to the equipment used. This included using a whiffle ball instead of the plastic ball initially used, as it provided better durability and performance.

When Did Pickleball Become a Sport?

Throughout the 1970s, the popularity of pickleball continued to grow rapidly. The game spread across the country, with players organizing tournaments and forming leagues. In 1972, the first pickleball tournament was held at South Center Athletic Club, which attracted a large number of participants.

In 1984, the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) was formed, which served as the governing body for the sport. The USAPA developed standardized rules, established ratings systems, and worked towards promoting pickleball at a national level. With their efforts, pickleball gained even more recognition and legitimacy as an official sport.

Modern Pickleball

Fast forward to today, pickleball has become a beloved sport played by millions of people worldwide. It is played on dedicated pickleball courts, which are similar in size to a badminton court, and the equipment has evolved to meet the demands of competitive play. The paddles are now made of lightweight, high-performance materials, and the balls have specific characteristics to ensure optimal gameplay.

When Did Pickleball Become a Sport?

Recently, pickleball has gained further acknowledgement by being included in the 2020 Olympic program as a demonstration sport. This has brought more attention to the game and further solidified its status as a legitimate sport.


From the above information about When Did Pickleball Become a Sport? It is concluded that From its humble beginnings in Joel Pritchard’s backyard to becoming a globally recognized sport, pickleball has come a long way. Its easy-to-learn rules, accessibility for all ages, and the element of strategy make it a perfect sport for people of diverse backgrounds and abilities.

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Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, pickleball offers endless fun and challenges. So, the next time you step on a pickleball court, take a moment to appreciate the fascinating history behind this incredible sport.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When Did Pickleball Become a Sport?

Pickleball was officially recognized as a sport in the mid-1960s. It was invented in 1965 by three friends – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum – who were looking to create a new game that could entertain their families during a summer gathering.

2. How did pickleball gain popularity?

Pickleball’s popularity began to soar in the 1970s as it quickly spread across the United States. The game gained traction through its easy-to-learn rules, accessibility to players of all ages, and the ability to be played in various settings, including backyards, schoolyards, and community centers.

3. When did pickleball start to be played competitively?

Pickleball started to transition from a recreational game to a competitive sport in the 1980s. The first official tournament was held in Washington state in 1984, which marked the beginning of organized competitive play. Since then, numerous regional, national, and international tournaments have been established.

4. When did pickleball become an internationally recognized sport?

Pickleball started to gain international recognition in the early 2000s. The International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) was formed in 2010 as the governing body for the sport. It has since organized and sanctioned world championships, expanding the reach of pickleball to countries worldwide.