What is the history of Pickleball? What are its origins? Where did Pickleball come from? Who invented it? Here is the history of Pickleball.
The sport of pickleball is a sport that is growing rapidly in recent times and one of the most popular racket sports. The objective of the game is to hit the ball across the net towards your opponent and force them to miss by hitting good shots. The player or players who reach either 11, 15, or 21 first win. Pickleball is a game that can be played in singles or doubles with most games having a doubles format. The ball must be served underhand and cross the court diagonally each time it is served. The ball must bounce before it can be returned on both the service and the play directly after the service return otherwise known as the two-bounce rule. Serves take place from the right side on even points and the left for odd points. The net is shorter than in a game of badminton much closer to the height seen on a tennis court. Outside of these few adjustments, the rules of pickleball largely mirror those of the game of badminton.
Pickleball was a game that was created in Bainbridge Island, Washington during a summer vacation of its creators. All of the development in the sport stems from the United States and it was primarily played in the US to start. Pickleball has grown slowly across all of the United States and into some areas of Canada in recent times too. Although much of the sport's history comes from the United States up to this point, recent expansions have brought the sport to a more global audience as courts have appeared across India as well. At this point, there are over 4,000 different locations to play the sport across these three countries as well as the many unrecognized courts and ares too.
Pickleball was created on vacation by a former United States congressman Joel Pritchard and his friend Bill Bell. A third co-creator was introduced to the game soon after, Barney McCallum, and these three men developed their creation by setting a list of rules and regulations surrounding the game that still govern the sport today. The game was created with the sole purpose of getting the entire family involved in a game that was fun and easy to play which still holds true today. Pritchard continued to develop the game after their initial match by also creating the first known court to play pickleball on in his own backyard two years later. These three individuals created a backyard game together that has turned into something played across the country and globe by thousands of individuals each year.
Pickleball was created by Pritchard, Bell, and McCallum during the summer of 1965 at Pritchard's summer vacation home. This establishment of the game took multiple years to develop into a sport that is now well-known. In 1975, an article in the National Observer talked about the sport and this was later rerun in Tennis magazine a year later in 1976 bringing some national attention for the first time. The first official rulebook was created by the USAPA, the governing body of the sport, in 1984 allowing the sport to grow more easily with set rules. 25 years after the sport of pickleball was created, it had expanded all the way across every state in the US, the culmination of its early development.
Pickleball is a sport that had humble beginnings and did not spread very rapidly. The first known tournament to be played was in 1976, 11 years after the creation of the sport and few others were played soon after. The sport has eventually taken off at a faster pace after reaching an audience of every state in the US. In the decade after reaching the entire US, the 1990s, pickleball expanded north to Canada and in recent times has popped up in India as well showing its popularity increase nationally as well as globally. A nationally acclaimed tournament began in 2009 run by the USAPA which drew over 400 players at its first meeting.
There are only a few known countries that actively play pickleball. They include:
The International Federation of Pickleball was created in 2010 to help grow the game globally and it has done a good job reaching new countries. Much of Europe has now been exposed to the game as well as other Asian countries outside of India. The expansion into Europe has seen its biggest growth up to now in Spain as it is a fully recognized member of the IFP, the only European country with this distinction. This growth will take time, meaning the US and Canada will still be the most popular countries for the sport for the foreseeable future.