Almost 60 Years Later, People Discover Pickleball

By Steven Luker

For the past few years Pickleball has become a popular sport and a lot of people are having a blast playing it. Let’s talk about the history of Pickleball.


It was started in 1965 in Bainbridge Island in Washington in a child’s backyard. It was named the official sport of Washington in 2022.

The way the game was started happened in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, at the summer home of Joel Pritchard, who later served in the United States Congress and as Washington’s lieutenant governor. Pritchard and two of his friends, Barney McCallum and Bill Bell, are credited with devising the game and establishing the rules.

What came first – Pickleball or Pickles?

The game started growing in popularity in the years 2021,2022, and 2023. Other sources state that the name “pickleball” was derived from the name of Pritchard’s family dog, Pickles. The Pritchards though claimed that the dog came along after the game had already been named, and it was the dog that was named after the game.

They said the confusion arose when a reporter interviewing the Pritchards in the early 1970s decided it would be easier for readers to relate to the dog rather than a pickle boat. Representatives of USA Pickleball claim that research on their part has confirmed that the dog Pickles was born after the game had already been named.


Another interesting fact is that pickleball is that shortly after the game was invented, some of its inventors, founders and their friends brought pickleball to Hawaii, where the game became known as pukaball. Puka, meaning “hole” in Hawaiian, was at first used to refer to the ball, since pickleballs have numerous holes, and then started to be used to refer to the game itself.

The first Pickleball tournament was held in 1976 at the Southcenter Athletic Club in Tukwila, Washington, it is credited with being the first formal Pickleball tournament in history. It was billed as “The World’s First Pickleball Championship” by Joel Pritchard and received a mention in the July 1976 edition of Tennis magazine.

The United States Amateur Pickleball Association (U.S.A.P.A.) was formed in 1984, which is when they published the first official rulebook for the sport and held the first National Doubles Championships in Tacoma, Washington.

By 1990 the sport was being played in all 50 states. In 2001 pickleball was included as a demonstration sport in the Arizona Senior Olympics (ASO) with 100 participants. The pickleball tournament was held at the Happy Trails RV Resort in Surprise, Arizona, and within five years included 275 participants.

The inclusion of pickleball in the ASO was seen as a significant contributor to the growth of tournaments in the United States.

Another thing is as of 2022 there are over 8,000 Pickleball locations in the United States. The sport also grew during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Now some of the key stuff about pickleball: The regulation size of the court is 20 feet (6.1 m) by 44 feet (13 m) for both doubles and singles, the same size as a doubles badminton court.

A line seven feet from the net is the non-volley line. Twenty-two feet from the net, the baseline marks the outer boundary of the playing area. The area bounded by the non-volley line, the sidelines, and the net, including the lines, is known as the non-volley zone or “kitchen”.

The area between the non-volley line and the baseline is the service court. A center line divides the service court into left and right sides. Regulated tournaments and games are usually played on a specialized polyurethane sport surface; however, courts are often set up on concrete, Astroturf, and indoor basketball courts.


The net for Pickleball is The net is 36 inches (0.91 m) high on the ends and 34 inches (0.86 m) high at the center. The net posts should be 22 feet (6.7 m) from the inside of one post to the inside of the other post. 

A Wiffle ball was the original ball used when the game was invented. USA Pickleball (USAP) and the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) have since adopted specific ball standards unique to pickleball.

pickle ball ball

Balls must be made of a durable molded material with a smooth surface and must have between 26 and 40 evenly spaced circular holes. They must weigh between .78 and .935 ounces (22.1 and 26.5 g) and measure between 2.87 and 2.97 inches (73 and 75 mm) in diameter.

Tournaments sanctioned by the USAP and IFP must choose from a list of preapproved balls found on the USAP and IFP websites. Balls with smaller holes are generally used for outdoor play to minimize the effects of wind, but any sanctioned ball can be used for either indoor or outdoor play.

Pickleball paddle

For sanctioned games, USAP and IFP paddle size standards say the combined length and width of the paddle shall not exceed 24 inches (0.61 m); the length cannot exceed 17 inches (0.43 m). There are no requirements regarding thickness or weight.

The paddle must be made of a non compressible material, and the surface of the paddle must be smooth with no texturing. Paddles used in sanctioned tournaments must be on the list of pre approved paddles found on the USAP and IFP websites

United States Pickleball stats as of 2022 said there are over 4.8 million people in the United States that played in 2022, a 14.8% increase over the previous year, with 10,724 playing locations registered with USA Pickleball. Overall this is the reason Pickleball has gotten so popular over the past few years.

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