Who Invented Pickleball And Why Was It Called Pickleball?

We all love playing pickleball very much. It is a game that can be played by people of all ages and gender. However, do you know the history of pickleball and why it is called Pickleball?

Who Invented Pickleball And Why Was It Called Pickleball?

The pickleball game we all know and love today was first to come out the light all the way back in 1965 by three dads named Barney McCallum, Joel Pritchard, and Bill Bell. It was first played on Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA. The game has seen a lot of different changes over time, and today it has turned into a competitive game that people can also enjoy with their friends and families.

The kids of these three dads were annoying them a lot. So they decided to hand their kids ping pong paddles and balls to go play in a badminton court. After a while, the dads themselves started to play and enjoy the game, and the kids were pushed out of the court soon enough.

That being said, this article is written to inform you about the history of pickleball and how it transitioned to a competitive game. We’re also going to talk about how different rules were set in order to keep the game fair for all parties involved. So without any further ado, let’s get started, shall we?

When Was This Game Invented & Who invented Pickleball?

As we’ve previously discussed, this game was invented in 1965 by 3 dads in order to entertain their kids. However, their own interest quickly grew in the game and they started to play regularly.

The game was initially played on a badminton court with ping pong paddles and balls. However, the players soon realized that they were not sufficient enough to play on such a huge field. These ping pong paddles would also break quite easily due to the stress being put on them.

So Barney McCallum (one of the three dads) went down to his basement and drew designs of a paddle on a piece of paper. He later used a band saw to cut plywood and shaped bigger and sturdier paddles.

pickleball inventor barney mccallum
Barney McCallum

These were the most basic paddles even by today’s standards. They did not even have any sort of rubber grip to grab them. However, since this game was so new and because the technology of that time was not up to today’s standards, those were the paddles that they were stuck with.

Why is it Called Pickleball? The Pickles Dog?

This one’s a bit tricky. There are two sides of stories that come up when people talk about why the game was named pickle-ball.

One Side believes that it was named by Joel Pritchard’s wife, Joan Pritchard. They say that she named this game as a reference to pickle boats where the rowers were selected from the leftover members of the other boats.

The other side believes that Joan Pritchard named this game after their family dog Pickles. True story? The name was actually after the pickle boat.

So you can believe the story that you want to believe because in the end, who cares why was it named pickleball? We would love the game just as much even if it was named something else.

How Did The Rules Develop in Pickleball?

As you might guess, at the early stages of the game, there were little to no rules that players had to follow. The initial players had to keep playing the game, and over time, through trial and error, they came to develop different types of rules.

pickleball old day

A funny fact is that the reason the height of the net in a pickleball game is set to 36 inches is that that was the height of Joel Pritchard’s waist. Every time the net would sag down, Joel Pritchard would go up to the net and match his hips to the height of the net in order to correct it. After a while, 36 inches just became the standard height of a net in a pickleball game that we still use to this day.

Non-Volley Zone – Why Was It Added To The Game?

Dick Brown (one of the initial players of pickleball) was a tall man and his height was around 6 foot 4 inches. He would smash the ball by standing close to the net, and no one was able to respond to his hits. That’s why a 7 feet deep Non-Volley Area was created to stop him from having an unfair advantage over other players.

How Did This Sport Spread Throughout The World?

Joel Pritchard (One of the founders of pickleball) was also an active politician. While he was running for congress at that time, he would set up pickleball games at his political events. This was the first time that pickleball was introduced to the outside world of Bainbridge Island.

As time progressed, pickleball slowly gained popularity and turned into the game that we now love and enjoy. A company by the name of Pickleball inc. was formed by the three original founders of the game in order to sell pickleball gear to people. This was the first time that anything related to pickleball had been on sale on the market.

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Their pickleball gear contained a badminton net, paddle, and a few balls. This company became a huge success due to the increasing number of players willing to learn and play this game, and the rest is history.

If you want to hear a detailed video format version about the history of pickleball, we recommend that you check out Pickleball Channel’s YouTube video about this topic.

Modern-Day Pickleball – What Has Changed?

To be honest not much has changed in terms of the rules and regulations of the game. The only major change that happened to pickleball has been in terms of equipment. Back in 65’, people were using heavy-weight wooden paddles to play this game. These days, technology has advanced so much to the point that we have now made composite paddles.

pickleball modern day match

These composite paddles consist of different types of high-quality materials that make it very easy to perfectly control and predict where the ball will go after you hit it.


From the very humble beginnings of Bainbridge Island, pickleball has grown into the game that we all love today. We hope that this game continues to flourish as it has over the years.

If you’ve liked what you have just read or if you have any questions about the topic, be sure to comment down below and let us know.

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