Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and every day hundreds of new people are taking up the game. This includes learning rules, techniques, and new terminology like “kitchen” and “dink.”

But what about the name of the game itself? Pickleball isn’t as obvious a name as baseball or basketball, and many people don’t even know where it came from, though many stories have made their way around as legend.

Where Did Pickleball Get Its Name? The History of Pickleball

The true origin of the name goes back to the very creation of the game itself. Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell, who, at the time, wanted to come up with an activity that the whole family could enjoy using game components they already had available. This included a badminton court, ping pong paddles, and a whiffle ball.

Joel’s wife Joan had been a competitive rower in the past, and was familiar with the term “pickle boat.” In competitive rowing, different positions in the boat have different strengths and specialties, and the best and fastest boats always had a crew of specialists in their strongest position. A “pickle boat” was a boat manned by leftover rowers of assorted specialties that didn’t always line up to their natural crew assignments, or were less experienced. These boats were usually the slowest and would come last in races. The last boat is called the “pickle boat” because in fishing fleets, the last boat to return to port would stay out and use brine to pickle the catch.

Since the game of pickleball was played using assorted leftover components from other games like badminton and ping pong, the Pritchards decided to call the game pickleball, after the pickle boats that were made up of leftover rowers.

Pickles the Dog

A common myth is that pickleball is named after the Pritchard family dog, Pickles, but it’s actually the other way around! Pickles joined the family a couple years after pickleball was invented, and was named after the game that the family had quickly grown to love.

Try Pickleball for Yourself!

Now that you know where the game (and name) came from, why not try playing it? Lifetime has pickleball equipment, including a full pickleball set, for you and your friends and family to enjoy!