The History (And Upcoming Future) Of Pickleball


Over the course of the last 55 years, pickleball has gone from being non-existent and unknown to being an extremely popular sport, played by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. 

This unique sport is played with teams of either two or four players, who use solid paddles to hit a perforated ball back and forth over the top of a net. 

As you can see in the diagram below, a pickleball court, as well as the rules of the sport, combine elements from table tennis, badminton, and traditional tennis. 

In the following article, we’ll be taking a look at the history of this somewhat unusual sport, some of its unique terminologies, as well as leaving you with a bit of news about one of the U.K.’s biggest, upcoming pickleball tournaments.

A Brief Look At The History Of Pickleball

According to United States of America Pickleball Association, pickleball has been around since 1965 and first appeared on Bainbridge Island, located just outside of Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. 

The creation of this unique sport is attributed to three fathers, named Bill Bell, Joel Pritchard, and Barney McCallum, whose children were becoming tired and disinterested in typically summertime sports like tennis, and badminton.

While pickleball was initially played with very basic, unwritten rules and homemade equipment, it has since evolved into a very popular sport played all across the United States and North America. 

Today, the sport’s popularity has even made its way across the Atlantic and is increasing in popularity in countries like the U.K., as well as many other European and Asian countries. 


Where Did The Name Come From?

If you’re not wholly acquainted with the sport, you’re probably wondering where it’s unique, unorthodox name originated from. Although there are many accounts of the name’s origin, no one really knows for sure where the name came from. 

One of the most common accounts comes from Joel Pritchard’s spouse, Joan. According to her, she claims that she started calling it pickleball because it reminded her, “of the pickle boat crew where the oarsmen were chosen from the leftover oarsmen of other boats.”

Another claim, from Barney McCallum, states the sport was named after Joel Pritchard’s dog who was named Pickles. 

While neither of these accounts are verifiable, many claim the name was a combination of both Pritchard’s wife’s story and McCallum’s. 

However, the truth is, that when the sport was first created back in 1965, it didn’t really have a name. And it was only years later, as the sport became to grow in popularity, that pickleball became the sport’s official name. 

Common Pickleball Terminology

As mentioned, pickleball is somewhat of a cross between tennis, badminton, and tennis. 

Therefore, many of the same terms are used.

Let’s take a look at just a few common terms used when playing pickleball. 

  • Ace – Just like in tennis, badminton or volleyball, an Ace is when a serve is completely missed or untouched by the receiver. This gives the serving team a point. 
  • Dink – A dink is a softer hit that sends the ball into the no-volley zone, just on the other side of the net.
  • Ad court – This term is used to refer to the left half of your own side of the pickleball court.
  • Crosscourt – This refers to the court diagonal to your own. 
  • Deuce court – Used to refer to the right side of your half of the playing field. Always remember that Deuce and Ad courts are opposite diagonals to each other. 

Of course, these are only a few of the most common terms associated with pickleball. Click here to learn more about pickleball and how to play this unique sport. 

The 2020 English Open And Bainbridge Cup

Interested in pickleball? We’d love to see you at an upcoming tournament!

Coming up this July, Pickleball England and the International Federation of Pickleball will be hosting the 2020 English Open and Bainbridge Cup. The event spans a total of 5 days, from July 1st to the 5th, and features dozens of the nation’s leading pickleball players. 

Watching the tournament is an excellent family activity for everyone. So bring your spouse, your kids, grandma, and grandpa, and even your pets! (especially if you have a dog named Pickles). 

We hope to see you there!