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The History of Pickleball

News Stacie Townsend 02-26-2020

Pickleball was created by Joel Pritchard (former United States congressman), Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum in the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington. The three founding fathers of pickleball created the game out of a necessity to entertain their bored children. They improvised with the recreational gear they had at hand, which included a badminton net, table tennis paddles, and a wiffle ball. Pritchard, Bell, and McCallum tweaked the rules to eventually come up with the first rules of the sport of pickleball. Needless to say, the newly created game was a hit with the children and quickly attracted the attention of the adults, too.

Other Key Dates in the History of Pickleball:

  • 1965 – The sport of pickleball was born on Bainbridge Island, Washington.
  • 1967 – The first pickleball court was constructed.
  • 1972 – Pickle-Ball Inc., a corporation, was created to protect the sport of pickleball.
  • 1975 – The National Observer published an article about pickleball, which helped garner national attention for the sport.
  • 1976 – Tennis Magazine published an article about pickleball, calling the sport “America’s newest racquet sport.”
  • 1976 – The first pickleball tournament was held in Tukwila, Washington.
  • 1984 – The USAPA was created to grow the sport of pickleball nationwide. The first rulebook was also created.
  • 1984 – Arlen Paranto created the first composite pickleball paddle.
  • 1990 – Pickleball reached all 50 states in the United States.
  • 1997 – Joel Pritchard, one of the founding fathers of pickleball, passed away at the age of 72.
  • 2005 – The USAPA was re-born as a not-for-profit corporation. The mission remained the same, which was and is to grow the sport of pickleball in the United States.
  • 2006 – Bill Bell, one of the founding fathers of pickleball, passed away at the age of 83.
  • 2009 – Almost 400 pickleball players from the United States (26 states) and Canada participated in the first USAPA National Tournament in Buckeye, Arizona.
  • 2010 – The International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) was created.
  • 2019 – Barney McCallum, one of the founding fathers of pickleball, passed away at the age of 93.
  • 2019 – Pickleball gets professional with the launch of two separate pro pickleball tours – the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) and the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP).
  • 2021 – Major League Pickleball – a unique team format for pro pickleball players – is born.
  • 2022 – Pickleball becomes the official state sport of the State of Washington.
  • 2022 – Pickleball is featured on a major broadcast network (CBS) for the first time.

Today, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, there are more than 4.8 million pickleball players in the United States. There are also almost 9,500 places to play, with more than 38,000 pickleball courts, across the globe. The growth of pickleball since 1965 is staggering, and this is only the beginning. The sport of pickleball continues to grow and capture the hearts of players worldwide.


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