The History of Pickleball: A Brief Overview
Even though pickleball was only invented 58 years ago, the sport is growing rapidly and attracting new players daily.
What started as a humble backyard game is well on its way to becoming one of the biggest sports in the world.
Let’s take a step back in time to where it all began…
1965: The Birth of Pickleball
The story begins in 1965 on Bainbridge Island in Washington, a city not far from Seattle. Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington state & Bill Bell, a successful businessman, came home one summer afternoon to find their friends and family bored with nothing to do.
With a badminton court on the property but not enough rackets, they improvised and began playing with ping pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball.
At the start, they positioned the net at the badminton height of 60 inches and volleyed the ball back and forth. As the weekend went on, they found that the ball bounced well on the asphalt surface and lowered the net to 36 inches.
The next weekend, Barney McCallum was introduced to the game at Pritchard’s home. Shortly thereafter, the three men created rules that were heavily influenced by badminton.
And pickleball was born!
Over the years, the sport has grown and expanded in numerous ways. Below are a few notable highlights:
1967: The First Permanent Pickleball Court is Constructed
1972: A Corporation is Formed to Protect the Sport
1976: First Pickleball Tournament
1982: Sid Williams Begins Playing and Organizing Tournaments in Washington State
1984: Creation of The United States Amateur Pickleball Association
The United States Amateur Pickleball Association (U.S.A.P.A.) is organized to foster the growth and development of pickleball at the national level. The first rulebook was published in March of 1984.
1990: Pickleball is Being Played in All 50 States!
And skipping ahead to the present day…
In 2021, pickleball grew to 4.8 million players in the US, according to the 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) Single Sport Report on Pickleball!
Pickleball is now one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. What started as a simple game has captured the imagination and attention of so many eager players throughout the world.
It’s still the early days, and the future is looking bright indeed.
Want To Get in On The Action?
We’ve partnered with YouFit Gyms to provide easy and affordable access to pickleball bookings. Find a local YouFit Gym near you and start playing for as low as $5!