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What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a recreational sport that combines elements of tennis, ping-pong and badminton.  It is one of the fastest growing sports in America due to the fact that it’s easy to learn, promotes competitiveness and socialization, and is a great form of exercise. Many people develop a passion for the sport after just a couple of games.


The game is played with a hard plastic ball, similar to a Wiffle ball, and with a graphite paddle on a court that is smaller than a tennis court.  A game usually lasts between 10 and 20 minutes and appeals to all ages and ability levels. It’s not uncommon to have grandparents, parents and their children all playing together.


The rules make it easy for beginners to learn but the game can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.  Pickleball is one of those sports that anybody can play to some degree at some level. You can be playing after one lesson but it can take a lifetime to master.

Graphite pickleball paddles with pickleballs on a pickleball court.

History of Pickleball

In 1965, several friends got together on Bainbridge Island, Washington.  To keep their children occupied on vacation, they created a game in a backyard on a badminton court with a Wiffle ball, a net and ping-pong paddles. Soon others joined and playing pickleball became a regular pastime.


The name pickleball is derived from one of the inventor’s wives, Joan Pritchard, referring to this new game referencing a rowing term a pickle boat.  This term refers to a crew team assembled from random rowers.


There has been a misnomer that the name pickleball came from the Pritchard’s dog.  They did have a dog named Pickles, but she came after the game was invented and never spent time at the courts or chased the ball.


For this and other fascinating pickleball facts, check out Pickleball is Life by author and FPA member Erin McHugh.

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