Where Did Pickleball Get Its Name?

Courtesy of

Might as well get this out of the way now, since it is the number one question we get. And be prepared to have your bubble burst.

  • Pickleball was created in 1966 on the Bainbridge Island, Washington backyard badminton court of congressman Joel Pritchard. Looking for a way to keep the family busy, Pritchard and friends, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum formalized the rules. As they and their families played the game, errant balls would be scooped up by the Pritchard’s family dog, Pickles. Thus Pickle’s ball, became Pickleball. FALSE

Actually that is all true except for the game being named after the family dog. According to Joel Pritchard’s wife Joan, the family pup did not even come on the scene until two years after the game was hatched in their driveway. By then the game already had its name.

The name of the game became Pickle Ball, after Joan Pritchard said it reminded her of the Pickle Boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. Yes, the dog was named for the game, but it appears historic stories about the name’s origin sounded better thinking the game was named for the dog. The dog story has been passed down through the years by TV, radio, newspapers and even the USAPA themselves.

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