Where Did Pickleball Get It’s Name? The Fascinating Origin Story Revealed!

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where did pickleball get its name
Where did pickleball get its name

The name “pickleball” might seem odd for a sport, sparking curiosity among newcomers and seasoned players alike. So, where did pickleball get its name? Two contradicting versions of the name’s origin story exist and are associated with the game’s founders, Joel Prichard and Barney McCallum.

It’s essential to note that these stories are more of oral history rather than formal documentation. Each version has a unique twist, providing some intrigue into the sport’s humble beginnings.

Key Takeaways

  • Two contradicting stories exist about pickleball‘s name origin, one involving a boat and the other a dog.
  • The sport has become increasingly popular due to its blend of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong elements.
  • The unique name has contributed to the sport’s intrigue and notoriety among players and enthusiasts.

The Canine Connection

One theory spotlights the Pritchard family’s dog, Pickles, whose playful antics with the ball inspired the game’s name. Joan Pritchard, Joel’s wife, reportedly suggested “pickleball” to honor the canine’s zestful involvement in their backyard games. Just like Pickles, get your hands (or paws) on the best pickleball balls here!

The Crew Rowing Reference

The alternative theory presents an intriguing connection to crew rowing. Joan Pritchard, herself an avid rower, drew parallels between the sport’s mixed elements and a “pickle boat,” a crew vessel with an eclectic mix of rowers. This metaphor resonated with the sport’s diverse components and accessories, making “pickleball” an apt choice.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the exact origins of the name, pickleball has become a beloved sport worldwide, characterized by its fast-paced gameplay and easy accessibility to participants of all ages. This article aims to provide a better understanding of how and why the moniker “pickleball” came to be.

A Tale of Two Stories!

Video Source: Pickleball Channel

In 1965, pickleball was created by two fathers named Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell, who were trying to find a way to entertain their families. It was a sunny day, and boredom had set in; the two fathers needed a plan to keep everyone engaged. And so, pickleball was born. We can look back and explore the history of pickleball.

Pickleball is a combination of elements incorporated from different sports such as tennis, badminton, and table tennis. Due to the unique nature of this game and its intriguing name, many people often wonder, “where did pickleball get its name?” Let us delve into the origins of this unusual title.

Origin of the Pickleball name:
  • It has nothing to do with pickles. Contrary to its name, the sport does not involve the use of pickles.
  • Pickleball was not named after a paddle, ball, or court. Oftentimes people assume that the name is derived from the paddle, the ball, or the court. However, that is not the case.
  • While the game’s name is unique, the gear is specifically designed for the sport.

Where Did Pickleball Get Its Name?

Now, to answer the question: Where did pickleball get it’s name? The name “pickleball” was actually inspired by the Pritchard family’s dog, named “Pickles”. Pickles was a mischievous pup who would often take the ball in the middle of a game, leading to family members chasing after him. Due to this playful behavior and the sport’s nature, the name “Pickle-ball” stuck and is still used today.

Bottom Line

Pickleball’s name comes from the Pritchard family’s dog, Pickles, and his habit of chasing the ball during games.

Where did pickleball get it's name

For those interested in picking up a paddle and trying pickleball, this sport is accessible to a wide range of age groups and ability levels. It offers an engaging and fun experience for novice and seasoned players alike. The ever-growing popularity of this quirky-named game is a testament to its entertainment value and appeal.

The first known pickleball tournament took place back in 1976 at the South Center Athletic Club in Tukwila, Washington. The event saw David Lester as the winner of the Men’s Singles category, while other participants included college tennis players who were still relatively new to the sport. Since then, pickleball‘s popularity has skyrocketed, with players of all ages and skill levels enjoying its unique qualities and competitive nature.

Bottom Line

While the origin of pickleball‘s name might have a peculiar and amusing backstory, the sport itself is an entertaining and engaging racket activity enjoyed by people all over the world. It continues to grow in popularity as more individuals discover its various aspects and challenges, proving that pickleball truly stands out as a one-of-a-kind sport. Give it a try with a beginner-friendly pickleball paddles or sets, you may find your next obsession!


What is the origin of pickleball’s name?

Pickleball is a unique sport with an interesting origin story. It was founded on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. The sport’s name was created by Joan Pritchard, Joel’s wife, who coined the term “pickleball.”

Is there a connection between pickle boats and pickleball?

Yes, there is a connection between pickle boats and pickleball or just a tale. Joan Pritchard named the sport after the “pickle boat” in crew races, drawing a parallel between the assembled nature of the rowers and the game itself.

Who were the key contributors in naming pickleball?

Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum invented the game, but it was Joan Pritchard who came up with the name “pickleball.” Her vision of the sport being similar to a pickle boat in crew races led to the unique and catchy name.

Are there any myths surrounding the name of pickleball?

The story about the game being named after the family dog, Pickles, is a myth that has persisted throughout the years. Despite this, Joan Pritchard has remained steadfast in explaining that the name pickleball originated from the concept of a pickle boat in crew races, and Pickles the dog was named after the game itself.

Was a pet involved in the naming of pickleball?

There is a popular misconception that the game was named after the Pritchard family dog, Pickles. However, Joan Pritchard and her family have consistently maintained that their dog was named after the game and not the other way around.

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Ken Kochman is the founder and chief editor at mypickleballauthority.com. His aim? Very simple. Cut through all the hype and misleading advertisements so you can make the best decision for your pickleball needs based on your level of play.

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