Where Did Pickleball Come From?

pickleball playerIn the year 1965 after a game of golf one Saturday in the month of summer, Joel Pritchard, the congressman from Washington State along with Bill Bell a well-known successful businessman had returned to Joel’s home in Bainbridge Island, WA to discover that both their families had been sitting around with not much else to do.

On the property was an old Badminton Court, so Bell and Pritchard decided to search around for any Badminton equipment. They were unable to find a complete racket set, so they improvised by playing with a perforated ball along with ping-pong paddles. To begin with the net was positioned at the standard badminton height of 60-inches, where they volleyed the plastic ball across the net. Over the course of the weekend the players started to discover that the ball was bouncing well on the badminton court surface constructed out of asphalt and decided to lower the net to 36-inches.

The next weekend, the two men introduced the game to Barney McCallum. It was from here that the 3 men got together to create the rules for the game which was relied heavily on the game of badminton. They considered the original focus and purpose of the game, which involved providing the type of game that their families could enjoy and play together. Below is a time-line on how the game progressed:


The very 1st Pickleball Court was constructed on Bob O’Brian’s property who was a neighbor and friend to Joel Pritchard.


They formed a corporation in order to protect this new sport.


An article was published in “The National Observer” about Pickleball which was followed by another article in the magazine known as “Tennis” in the year 1976 that spoke about the latest racquet sport.


In 1976, the very 1st “known” Pickle ball tournament event was held at the SCAC (South Center Athletic Club) in Tukwila Washington. It was David Lester who won the Men’s Singles event and Steve Paranto who claimed second place. The participants were mainly college tennis-players that were not familiar with Pickleball. In fact, these players were practicing with wooden paddles – nothing like the modern pickleball paddles we now use – and whiffle balls the size of a softball.


The USAPA was organized to promote the advancement and growth of the sport on a National level. It was in the same year that the 1st rulebook for Pickleball was published.


By the year 1990, Pickleball became a sport which was played in all of the 50 states.


The game known as Pickleball was introduced to the Arizona Senior Olympics due to efforts from Earl Hill. This tournament went onto to be played at the Happy Trails RV Park in Surprise, AZ where it attracted 100 players.


Pickleball was for the 1st included in the Huntsman World Senior Games, which is held every year in St. George, Utah in the month of October.


In 2005, Mark Friedenberg became the President for the new USAPA. It was from here that Friedenberg created a Board of Directors.