The name Pickleball can sometimes give sports enthusiasts a different idea of game playing, for which we can reassure some of you that this sport does not involve any pickles! We apologize for being the bearers of bad news to the others, I know, we’d get excited too, hearing the name for the first time! However, do not let this factor discourage you from playing the game, as it is just as fun as its name!
The sport has been traced back to the 1960’s in terms of its origin, regionally stemming from the United States. The name itself has its own historical backing too, we’d like to think it a part of US Politics!
To understand the name of this exciting sport, it’s important to look at the game’s history; who doesn’t love a good backstory, especially one that led to the creation of something called Pickleball!
What is Pickleball, a Sport Or a Leisure Game?
When talking about the famous game, one would think it was coined by a group at a college party or at a family gathering for a leisurely evening in the sun! The game in fact is classified as an official sport and is played internationally and competitively worldwide.
The game was coined by US Politician Joel Pritchard, who actually intended on establishing Pickleball as a light-hearted family activity, little did he know the game would receive international recognition!
A History of Pickleball; Where It Stems From
Like all historic predicaments and legendary sports, Pickleball also came into being on a bright and sunny day, with the sole intention of serving a family gathering.
Two fathers, Joel Pritchard who happened to be a Politician, and his neighbor Bill Bell came up with the concept after a game of golf, in Island. It was discovered that their families did not have any activities to pass the time, and were bored, and so both men put their minds together to think of a solution to this conundrum.
Joel Pritchard then devised a plan to end his family’s summertime boredom.
Pritchard’s property inhabited an old badminton court, and so, this became the starting point of their endeavors.
According to historic reports, they were unable to find enough rackets for the full team and game and so, they took to improvising, using spare ping pong paddles alongside a whiffle ball and just like that, a brand-new sport was invented!
They furthered the sport’s orient by enhancing their makeshift game further. They carried this out by implementing a set of specific house rules based around the court and equipment being used.
Initially, the game’s net had been set at a standardized badminton court’s regulation height of approximately 60 feet, but the family players found that the Pickleball i.e. the whiffle, bounced quite well on their asphalt court, and so, with this trial and error run, they proceeded to lower it down to about 37 feet.
At this point, not a lot of rules were set in place for the game itself and so, Pritchard and Bell furthered their endeavors by introducing their family game to another member, i.e. family friend Barney McCullum.
With a common interest and inspiration derived from badminton, the trip set off to create rules intricately tailored according to the family’s accessibility and playing capacity.
Pritchard didn’t stop there however, as 2 years later, he embarked on constructing the first ever, permanent pickleball court, in his neighbor’’s backyard.
The conceptualization of the family pass time sport Pickleball was further cemented as a frequent occurrence.
The game picked up as it started to gain popularity amidst the Pacific Northwest, following which a corporation named Pickleball Inc. was established in 1972 to collectively help and encourage interested individuals to invest in equipment and the game itself.
This corporation covered all basics such as nets, paddles, and whiffle balls that weren’t borrowed from other racquet-based games but rather specifically curated for Pickleball itself.
This corporation in turn, helped transition the game itself from a Sunday pass time game to a legitimized and regulated sport.
Fast-forwarding to today’s day and age, Pickleball certainly has picked up momentum, being recognized internationally and is rapidly growing in the US.
Why Is It Called Pickleball?
Finally, coming to the most important question; after all, why is the sport called Pickleball? After all, it is quite an odd name to give a sport that has nothing to do with pickles! And so, we will look at the 2 key theories surrounding this sport’s name.
There are two most sought out theories as to how and why Pickleball got its quirky name.
The game was initially created by Joel Pritchard, the Washington politician, to entertain his family during the boring summer days of 1965.
According to Pritchard, his wife allegedly described the sport as looking like a pickle boat when one participates in rowing. Primarily referring to a crew of oarsmen who have been left over from other boats.
This is one possible explanation. The second theory, however, is the one most individuals tend to believe. This explanation goes to say that the sport was named after Pritchard’s dog, who took the name of Pickles.
This theory is also an interesting one as, according to Joan Pritchard, the wife of Joel, Pickles the dog did not enter the household until 2 years after the game was coined. And so, this also brings about the possibility of the game not having an official name until two years later, when Pritchard legitimized it by building the first ever Pickleball court.
It is quite interesting to view both theories, our take is definitely the one based on Pickles the dog, as Pickles was reported to also chase around the whiffle ball, thus for us, we would like to see Pickles the dog as the core source of inspiration for the name of the game!