Pickleball History: Timeline & How it started (2024)

Pickleball history, an intriguing tale of a sport’s growth, captivates audiences worldwide.

In this comprehensive exploration of Pickleball history.

Discover its inventors, remarkable development, and the factors contributing to its popularity today!

Let’s serve it up!

Pickleball History: Timeline & How it started (1)

Table of Contents

  • Pickleball History Summary
  • Pickleball History Timeline
    • 1965
    • 1970s
    • 1984
    • 1990s
    • 2000s
    • 2010s
    • 2020s
  • FAQ
    • Who invented Pickleball?
    • How did Pickleball become so popular?
    • Where did Pickleball originate?

Pickleball History Summary

  • Origins and Evolution: Pickleball emerged in the United States in 1965, invented by three friends seeking a family-friendly game. Combining elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, it quickly gained popularity as a versatile and accessible sport.
  • 🚀 Rise to Prominence: The sport’s adaptability across age groups and skill levels accelerated its growth. Tournaments, clubs, and the establishment of the USA Pickleball Association in 1984 helped solidify its place in the world of sports.
  • 🥇 Noteworthy Growth and Adaptation: Across the decades, pickleball expanded its reach, with booming international interest and technological advancements enhancing gameplay and equipment. The sport’s adaptability and inclusive nature ensure its continuous growth and influence in the global sports community.

Pickleball History Timeline


In 1965, pickleball was invented on Bainbridge Island, Washington, by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. The three friends aimed to create a sport suitable for their families, offering a blend of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. They played the first game in Pritchard’s backyard, using makeshift equipment and setting the foundation for pickleball’s growth.

The name “pickleball” is believed to have been inspired by Pritchard’s dog, Pickles, who would chase errant balls, or possibly borrowed from the term “pickle boat,” referring to a mix of rowers used as a crew in competitive races.


Throughout the 1970s, pickleball’s popularity steadily grew, spreading across the United States and Canada. A pickleball corporation was founded in 1972, initiating the development of standardized equipment, including paddles and balls. In 1975, the first known pickleball tournament took place at South Center Athletic Club in Tukwila, Washington, drawing attention to the sport’s competitive nature.

Also during this decade, pickleball pioneers, like Bob O’Brien, introduced the sport to schools by incorporating pickleball into physical education programs, thus expanding its accessibility to younger generations.


In 1984, pickleball reached a significant milestone with the establishment of the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), founded by Sid Williams. The organization played a pivotal role in promoting and regulating pickleball, offering resources to players, hosting events, and developing the first official rulebook.

The USAPA’s creation marked a turning point in the sport’s history, as it became the centralized authority for pickleball in the United States, further boosting its reputation and growth.


During the 1990s, pickleball continued to gain popularity across North America. Thousands of players embraced the sport, with over 1,000 courts built from coast to coast. Notable events, such as the Huntsman World Senior Games in 1997, included pickleball for the first time, raising the sport’s profile among senior athletes.

Also, during this decade, the first pickleball paddles made of lightweight composite materials were introduced, revolutionizing the gameplay and offering players more durable and efficient equipment.


In the 2000s, pickleball’s presence expanded internationally, reaching countries like India, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The sport experienced exponential growth, with pickleball clubs forming and tournaments popping up worldwide. An estimated 100,000 players were actively involved in the sport by the end of the decade.

Technological advances also permeated pickleball, with improvements in equipment and court construction materials. New types of paddles, balls, and footwear were introduced to meet the increasingly diverse player base’s needs.


The 2010s witnessed rapid growth in pickleball’s popularity, attracting mainstream media attention and fostering increased investment in the sport. By 2019, there were over 15,000 pickleball courts in the United States, and the sport was being played in over 60 countries. Enrollment in youth and school programs skyrocketed, with more than two million participants.

Pickleball’s expansion into the collegiate sports arena, like the 2019 National Collegiate Pickleball Championship, signifies its increasing prominence and future potential in the competitive sports landscape.


Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, pickleball continued to thrive in the 2020s. The sport’s outdoor nature and adaptability allowed players to maintain physical distancing while engaging in meaningful competition. As a result, pickleball surged in popularity as a way of staying active during lockdowns and restrictions.

With a rising number of professional players, tournaments and events, and the continuous refinement of rules and equipment, pickleball is poised to maintain its influence in the global sports community for years to come.

Curious about how the sport began? Learn about who invented pickleball and the creative minds behind the game.

Pickleball History: Timeline & How it started (2)


Who invented Pickleball?

Pickleball was invented by three dads- Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum in 1965 as a game for their bored kids.

How did Pickleball become so popular?

Pickleball gained popularity because of its easy-to-learn rules, low equipment cost, and the social aspect it entails, making it a beloved community sport.

Where did Pickleball originate?

Pickleball originated in Bainbridge Island close to Seattle, Washington, USA, invented as a family backyard game.

Pickleball History: Timeline & How it started (2024)
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