History and Fun Facts about Pickleball

Helen Selenati

Pickleball has quickly become one of the world’s most popular sports. More than 4 million players play pickleball in the United States and that number has been growing by more than 10 percent each year over the past decade. Following are a few more interesting facts about America’s new favorite paddle sport.

Pickleball was invented in 1965 by three fathers from Bainbridge Island, WA to entertain their kids. Congressman Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum made the equipment for the game from items they had lying around the house. They used rules from the games of tennis, badminton, and table tennis to create a fun new game for their families to enjoy. The first permanent court for pickleball was built in 1967.

Despite the name, pickleball has nothing to do with actual pickles. Some claim that the name “pickleball” came from Pritchard’s cocker spaniel, whose name was Pickles. However, their family dog, got his name from the game two years after it was invented. Joel Pritchard’s wife, Joan, started to call their game pickleball because “the combination of different sports reminded me of the pickle boat in crew, where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.”

Pickleball is played by all age groups, with the average age of 38 years, and almost equally as popular among men and women, with 53% of players being male and 47% being female. Like tennis, pickleball can be played as both a singles and doubles sport each with their own rules.

Pickleball has its own national governing body, the United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA) which regulates professional play for the sport.
The sport’s popularity across the world led to the creation of the International Federation of Pickleball, helping to regulate the sport in countries like the US, Canada, France, Great Britain and Spain.

Pickleball is not currently an Olympic sport, however that could change for the 2024 Paris Olympics (too soon?) or the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games. In 2001, pickleball was introduced in the Arizona Senior Olympics drawing 100 players, which was the largest event to be played at that point.

Oakmont Pickleball Club (OPC) members come from a wide variety of backgrounds and skill levels to enjoy both social and competitive play. Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the fun, irrespective of skill level. The OPC membership has grown to 168 paid members this year who also enjoy numerous social events throughout the year.

New Player Orientation (Tuesdays 9-10am): Contact Nancy Lande at 978-2998 to schedule a session. Demo loaner paddles are available by contacting Doc Savarese at 349-9065.
If you know of someone in need of a card to cheer them up or for condolences, please contact Helen Selenati at 595-3413.

Thanks to the Annapolis Pickleball Club for providing some of these interesting fun facts.

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