Why Is It Called Pickleball, in Case You Were Wondering

We understand why you might scratch your head when you first hear the name. Are you really hitting pickles around a court? What do pickles have to do with balls? Why is it even a game? So, why is it called pickleball, anyway?

Let’s do a deep dive and get the facts about this popular sport and its silly name.

History of Pickleball

We’ll start with the origin of the game before we discuss why is it called pickleball. Congressman Joel Pritchard from Washington and his friend, Bill Bell invented it in 1965. The resourceful men devised a way to entertain their waiting families with the things that were handy:

Sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn’t it?

Badminton provided the initial rules of the game with a shorter net than the regular one. Asphalt provided the bounce. Pritchard and Bell then introduced their mutual friend, Barney McCallum to their invention.

No one looked back from that day.

Pickleball took on a life of its own. By 1972, it was an official sport that captured media attention and enthusiasts from all over the country. The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) formed in 1984, making spreading the word its mission. It has its own board of directors and a team of volunteers anxious to share their love of the sport.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Sale
JP WinLook Pickleball Paddles Set with Graphite Face, Lightweight, Starter to Professional, Indoor/Outdoor, Men & Women, USAPA Approved Racquets, 3 Balls, 1 Bag
  • BEGINNER TO EXPERT THIS SET HAS IT ALL - Premium Quality Bundle Includes USAPA APPROVED 2 Pickle Ball Raquettes, 3 Pickleball Balls & 1 Carry Bag. We Apply Cutting Edge Technology Using LIGHTWEIGHT HONEYCOMB CORE With A GRAPHITE FACE ( At 7.25 OZ) For Balanced Control & Powerful Hitting.
  • A PADDLE FOR BETTER CONTROL AND COMFORT - Top Quality Construction Provides A SOFT CUSHION NON SLIPPERY GRIP For Comfort Even With Extended Game Play. POLYMER HONEYCOMB Paddle Construction That Is Lightweight & Durable. GRAPHITE FACE For Power & Spin Control.
  • ADVANCE YOUR SKILL LEVEL - Our Pickleball Paddle Set Offers A Paddle That Is Optimally Designed With BALANCE, COMFORT, POWER & Ball CONTROL. JP Winlook Paddles Will Help To Improve Your Skill Level On The Court.
  • GAME IMPROVEMENT PICKLE BALLS - Pickleball Balls In A HIGH VISIBILITY COLOR For Indoor & Outdoor Play In Most Light Conditions. The Precisely Drilled Holes Deliver A CONSISTENT FLIGHT PATH And Minimizes Wind Interference To Make It Perfect For Any Level Of Play.
  • CONVENIENT TRAVEL CARRY BAG - Protect Your Pickleball Paddles Set And Arrive In Style With This Duffel Bag.Your Pickleball Equipment Is Always Well-protected While In Storage Or On The Move To Your Next Game.

Last update on 2022-06-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Why is it Called Pickleball, Anyway?

Pickleball has stayed true to its origins as a racquet sport. It has, however, shed the Wiffleball and ping-pong paddles for official gear that players use today. There is nothing even remotely resembling a pickle in the game, barring its name, of course.

Word around the campfire has it that Joan Pritchard, the congressman’s wife, gave the sport its moniker after the others invented it. After all, it didn’t have a name at first.

One popular urban legend says that the family named it after their dog who would fetch the Wiffle balls that were in play. It’s probably the story you’ll see most often. Unfortunately, it’s not true, at least, not entirely.

Joel and Joan Pritchard and their son, Frank, have all debunked the story. Those in the know aren’t really sure how it took on that name. It remains lost in the family lore.

Onix Pure 2 Outdoor Pickleball Balls Specifically Designed and Optimized for Pickleball (12-Pack)
  • Weighted heavier to fly straighter in extreme outdoor conditions with True Flight Technology
  • Consistent bounce shot after shot with Authentic Bounce Technology
  • Exceptional seam welding offers greater durability and resists splitting
  • Superior balance with strategically aligned, precision-drilled holes
  • Most durable pickleball available on the market today

Last update on 2022-06-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Of Crew and Pickle

A likely explanation involves Joan Pritchard and her love of rowing. Pickle, in terms of crew, means the last team to win a regatta. Presumably, it has the least skilled oarsmen, a mish-mash of individuals not chosen by the other ones.

Pritchard equated this word to the jumble of gameplay elements of pickleball. The story has some merits. There are three sports represented in the original version with another set of rules. It has its own jargon. It has something of a mystery associated with it. That qualifies in our book.

As an experienced rower, Pritchard likely had an excellent handle on the lingo of the sport. The name makes sense when taken in this context. It also fits when you consider another idiom using this word, in a pickle. That’s where you’d be if you’ve sunk your boat.

Another variation speaks of Pritchard thinking that the ping-pong paddles the players used resembled the ones that the crew members would use on a pickle boat.

Word around the internet states that the fishermen on the said pickle boat would catch herring and pickle them on the way to the shore. However, that doesn’t quite seem right. For one, it takes a few days to make it. More likely is that pickled herring was made on land put in barrels to transport it someplace else.

Nevertheless, it makes for a good story too.

Sale
niupipo Pickleball Paddle, USAPA Approved Graphite Pickleball Paddle, Cushion Grip, Paddle Cover, Honeycomb Composite Core, Lightweight Pickleball Racket
  • USAPA Approved and Professional Paddle - Our pickleball paddle has passed the USAPA test and is qualified for sanctioned tournament play; This is one of the most popular USAPA pro pickleball paddles in the market for over two decades; Our pickleball paddle can withstand any challenges on the court; This will be the first and best pickleball paddle for beginners
  • Advanced Materials and Incredible Value - Our pickleball paddle comes with a graphite carbon fiber face and honeycomb composite polymer core which provide nice bounce, reduce ball deflection, and enhance the strength of your strike; With the long service life, the pickleball paddle racquet is vastly superior in texture, balance, and construction, great for beginner and athlete to use
  • Premium Grip and Perfect Handle Size - The USAPA pro pickleball racquet is comfortable to handle and works well while playing; Pickleball racquet is perforated, sweat-absorbent, and cushioned, providing a better paddle grip for longtime play without fatigue; Wide-body pickleball racquets shape with 4.5-inch grip length and 4.25-inch grip circumference; Paddle dimensions: 15.5 inches (L) x 7.9 inches (W) x 0.5 inches (H), lightweight pickleball racquet 8 ounces
  • The Edge Guard for Protection - Edge protection is provided for ground hits; Low-profile edge guard protects the edges of pickleball paddle, yet slim enough to reduce mishits; These pickleball paddles also feature a corner-shield and interlocking neck-guard, greatly enhancing strength and durability; The pickleball paddle is noticeably lighter than any wooden paddle; The USAPA pro graphite pickleball paddle strikes the perfect balance between great gameplay, control, and power
  • Comes with a Protective Cover - Protect the pickleball paddle with the zippered neoprene cover when toting around and when not in play; Every USAPA pro graphite pickleball paddle is designed to be an awesome pickleball paddle for either a beginner or a professional player

Last update on 2022-06-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Is There a Connection Between the Name and the Family Pet?

Barney McCallum, one of the game’s original inventors, said that Pickles the dog was the inspiration for the name. He claimed the pet’s antics during gameplay gave someone the idea.

They say that timing is everything. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Or, as in this case, was it the name or the dog?

Family members confirm that Pickles the cocker spaniel joined the Pritchards well after the game’s creation. The name, therefore, came before the dog. Pickleball, as it turns out, gave the family pet his name, instead.

Why the Name Fits

If you want to set any notions of logic aside, we think there are a lot of great reasons that the game has this name. You have to admit that it sounds funny. And that seems to define what it means.

Sure, there are clubs and leagues, which bring a serious edge to the game. However, its origins rest with finding a way to while away an afternoon. After all, doesn’t it make you want to smile after just saying the name?

Pickleball has found followers in all 50 states. It has made a hit on the international scene with clubs in India and Canada too, with no signs of stopping, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) 2018 Pickleball Participant Report.

Sale
Amazin’ Aces Graphite Pickleball Set - Includes 2 Graphite Pickleball Paddles, 4 Balls, 1 Mesh Carry Bag, Premium Pickleball Rackets Graphite Face, Polymer Honeycomb Core
  • Unbeatable Value. Amazin' Aces Graphite Pickleball Set includes 2 graphite pickleball paddles, 4 balls, and 1 mesh bag. This premium pickleball set gives you an edge to play better and faster!
  • Superior Quality and Performance. Our graphite pickleball paddles set weighs 8.3 oz and features a polymer core paired with a graphite face. It has a hand-stitched contour grip for power and control.
  • Convenience Meets Style. Simple and classic, this premium graphite pickleball paddle comes with a high-quality box for gifting and a mesh bag for convenient carry and easy storage of your pickleballs.
  • Perfect Paddles for Players of All Levels. Hit the court with our pickleball paddles, have some fun, and make new friends! These pickleball rackets are perfect for beginners to intermediate players.
  • 1-Year Warranty. We back up our premium pickleball set with a 1-year warranty. If you find any issue with one of our graphite paddles, you can get it fixed or replaced with no questions asked.

Last update on 2022-06-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Why the Story of the Dog Persists

Like in many urban legends, sometimes, the more farfetched a story, the stronger it takes hold. To be fair, the inventors of the game went with it, including the Pritchards. It offers just that right bit of craziness to match its strange beginnings.

Even the USAPA embraced it and gave it a new life to another generation of followers. The organization has since acknowledged the varying accounts, leaving the door open for any variation to take center stage.

We have to admit liking this version better too.

Final Thoughts

Whatever story is true about its whimsical name, pickleball continues to attract followers with over 3.3 million participants in the game. And while you may consider it a casual backyard game, think again. Over 60 percent of enthusiasts over age 55 are core players. Thanks to the efforts of the USAPA and its members, pickleball is here to stay.