Where did pickleball get it's name

Where Did Pickleball Get It’s Name?

In the realm of sports, there are some curious tales that make you scratch your head in wonder. One such enigma surrounds the amusingly named sport of pickleball. You may be wondering Where did pickleball get it’s name? It’s not your average moniker for a game, and folks often find themselves pondering the peculiar origins of its name. Could it be that pickleball was named after a four-legged friend? Let’s dive into the depths of this mystery and find out.

The Quest for the Origins

When it comes to the roots of pickleball’s name, the trail is as twisty as a pickle itself. The prevailing theory suggests that the sport was concocted on a whim in 1965 by three friends: Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. Legend has it that their families were feeling bore one summer afternoon and were in search of a new game to keep everyone entertained. Armed with makeshift equipment, they improvised a game that combined elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong.

The Peculiar Naming Ceremony

Now, let’s get to the juicy part – how did this quirky game end up being christened “pickleball”? Was Pickleball named after a dog? One school of thought suggests that it was named after the Pritchard family dog, Pickles. According to this tale, Pickles had a peculiar habit of chasing after stray balls during the game, creating a delightful chaos on the court.

Related: Why Is It Called Pickleball

However, upon deeper investigation, it turns out that this charming anecdote might be nothing more than a delightful myth. In an interview with Barney McCallum, one of the game’s founding fathers, he revealed that the name actually stems from the nautical world. Joel Pritchard’s wife, Joan, declared that the game reminded her of the “pickle boat” in crew racing. This is the boat that comes last and picks up any leftover rowers. Quite fitting for a game that combined leftover equipment!

Pickleball: A Name Born from Whimsy

So, there you have it – the intriguing origins of pickleball’s name. It wasn’t a playful pup that inspired the moniker but rather the whimsical association with a boat that picked up the stragglers. The simplicity of the name reflects the unpretentious nature of the game itself.

The Rise of Pickleball: From Backyards to Global Courts

Regardless of its name’s origin, pickleball has evolved from a backyard pastime to a global sensation. Its popularity is soaring, attracting players of all ages. The game’s charm lies in its simplicity, making it accessible to both beginners and seasoned athletes. The distinctive sound of the paddle hitting the ball and the quick footwork on the court have become synonymous with fun and friendly competition.

A Game for Everyone: Pickleball’s Inclusive Spirit

Pickleball’s charm extends beyond just its amusing name. The sport’s inclusive nature has garnered a diverse fan base. From retirees enjoying a leisurely match to youngsters discovering their love for racquet sports, pickleball brings people together across generations.


In the grand tapestry of sports history, pickleball may be a relatively new thread. But it has woven itself into the hearts of millions worldwide. The mystery of its name, whether rooted in a dog’s antics or a nautical reference, adds an extra layer of charm to this delightful game. So, the next time you find yourself on the pickleball court, take a moment to appreciate the whimsy that birthed this game with a name as unique as its journey.

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