History

Here in Ottawa, pickleball is fairly new. In fact, the sport was only developed in 1965 in Bainbridge Island, Washington by State Representative Joel Pritchard and two of his friends. Here is a bit of history behind how they developed pickleball and how it was named.

The story goes like this. Mr. Pritchard returned from playing golf with his two friends and found his family bored. He suggested badminton but no shuttlecock was to be found. In the end, he improvised with a wiffle ball, lowered the net and fabricated some plywood paddles.

However, the most commonly asked question is: how did it get its name? There are two versions to answer this question. The most favored one is that it was named after the family dog Pickle who loved to chase after the ball. In the end, we are caught with a chicken and egg problem….it would seem that the dog came into the family AFTER pickleball was invented and was named from the sport and not vice versa. The truer version of the history of the name (though somewhat less interesting) is that Pickleball came from the reference of the Pickle Boat. Although many website continue to cite the story that it was names after the dog, here is what Joan Pritchard (wife of Joel Pritchard) has said:

“The name of the game became Pickle Ball, after I said it reminded me of the Pickle Boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. Somehow the idea the name came from our dog Pickles was attached to the naming of the game, but Pickles wasn’t on the scene for two more years. The dog was named for the game, but stories about the name’s origin were funnier thinking the game was named for the dog.”

The Pickle Boat was the slowest boat to return from its catch. Notwithstanding, anyone who has played pickleball know it is not a slow game and you can easily land yourself in a ‘pickle’ if you are not quick enough.

 
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