You might have played matches of tennis, gotten serious during a ping-pong dual at a party in college, or played a few rounds of racquetball. What about a game that combines all three for the ultimate sporting experience? Pickleball is a sport you might have heard about recently. Let’s cover the basics.
Pickleball: The Name of The Game
Why the name Pickleball? According to Barney McCallum, the game was officially named after former congressman, Joel Pritchard’s, dog, Pickles, who would chase a ball and run off with it.
On a summer’s day in 1965, Pritchard, and a business friend, Bill Bell, made their way back to Pritchard’s residence, only to find their families in a state of boredom. On a quest for the antidote for their apathy, they searched around the property to see what equipment they had for the families to kill time. Originally, they found an assortment of sports equipment: a perforated plastic ball, net, and ping pong paddles. Through trial and error, they realized the net should be lowered from 60 inches to 36 inches. Once McCallum joined them the following weekend, all three men came up with additional guidelines, inspired by the rules for Badminton, for their newfound game. Just like that, Pickleball was invented.
The men had a clear purpose in mind: to make a game that could be enjoyed by all members of the family. In 1972, they decided to form a corporation. In 1976, the first known Pickleball tournament took place in Tukwila, Washington. In case you feel like you should’ve known about Pickleball, which was founded over 40 years ago, have no fear—allegedly, those who entered the tournament were generally tennis players in college who knew very little about it, using softball-sized whiffle balls and large wooden paddles while preparing for the competition.
Pickleball’s Present & Prospective Future
In 2020, the U.S.A.P.A. (United States Amateur Pickleball Association) rebranded itself to USA Pickleball. According to USA Pickleball, in 2020, Pickleball has grown roughly 21.3%, and reported a total of 4.2M active players. Of all the Pickleball players, 79% of “casual players” are 54 years old or younger. “Casual players” are listed to be players who engage in the sport between 1 and 7 times per year.
Local country clubs in South Florida are also picking up the ball regarding the Pickleball trend. In Boca Raton, Florida, there are several sites for Pickleball, ranging from private clubs, which offer the sport on certain days, to public recreational areas. For example, in the April 2021 issue of the City Connection Newsletter for The City of Boca Raton, an announcement was made that Patch Reef Park Tennis Center recently added six new Pickleball courts, each available to the public. The Boca Raton Resort & Club has a Pickleball pop-up, offering services including clinics, private lessons, and tennis courts reserved for Pickleball. The clinics and private lessons are taught by Nikki Roth, WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) Professional and Certified Pickleball Instructor.
Pickleball Players & Places to Play
Where can you find people to play Pickleball and where are the courts?
USA Pickleball consolidated the various websites that were created for the purpose of providing locations to play Pickleball for people in different areas. This expansive directory, created in 2005, known as places2play.org, is where you can search by address, city, state, zip code, or venue location, to find reliable places to play Pickleball.
Pickleball Global is a Pickleball multi-source company headquartered in Bonita Springs, Florida. Its website is an international database that provides information about Pickleball leagues across America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Pickleball Global offers details for global tournaments, rankings, and databases for players, coaches, venues, groups, teams, and more.
You can also find additional resources on the International Pickleball Federation’s website.