Yes, it’s that sport with the funny name! But how did it come to be called pickleball? And is it more related to tennis, badminton, or ping-pong? Pickleball has been around for a few years, but did you know it is the fastest-growing sport in America? In this article, we answer these questions and more.
21 pickleball facts
- Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum on Bainbridge Island, Washington. They used table tennis bats to hit a plastic perforated ball over a badminton net.
- The name “pickleball” was inspired by the Pritchard’s dog, the cocker spaniel Pickles, who chased after the ball and kept running off with it. Another origin story is that Joel Pritchard’s wife, Joan, came up with the name as a reference to “pickle boats,” competitive vessels operated by rejects from other crews.
- Pickleball combines other racquet sports like tennis, badminton, and table tennis. Pickleball paddles are a larger version of ping-pong paddles.
- The first pickleball court was a badminton court painted over with lines for the new game. You can fit two pickleball courts (20 feet by 44 feet) into a badminton-sized court (a badminton doubles court measures 20 feet by 88 feet).
- Pickleball uses a ball similar to a Wiffle ball and a paddle similar to a table tennis paddle (or ping-pong paddle).
- Pickleball is played on a court that is one-third the size of a tennis court and has an area called “the kitchen” (a non-volley zone). It uses a hard plastic ball with holes in it.
- The net in pickleball is lower than the net in tennis, and players must observe the two-bounce rule. When the ball is served, it must bounce once on the receiving team’s side and then once more on the server’s side when the serve is returned, thus two bounces. After the ball bounces once in each team’s court, both teams can choose to volley or play the ball off the bounce.
- Pickleball can be played singles or doubles and is most popular among seniors. However, people of all ages now enjoy it.
- The Pickleball Museum, located in Washington state, is dedicated to the sport’s history.
- The first official pickleball tournament was held in 1976, and the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) was founded in 1984.
- The first world pickleball championships were held in 2016 in Canada.
- The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) was founded in 2005 and is the official governing body for pickleball in the United States. The USAPA sanctions tournaments and maintains the official rules for pickleball. There are over 16,000 registered pickleball players in the USAPA.
- All 50 US states and over 50 countries play pickleball.
- The National Pickleball Championship is held annually in November in Casa Grande, Arizona.
- In 2019, the National Pickleball Championship registered over 4,000 “picklers” (pickleball players).
- Pickleball is an inclusive sport with divisions for players of all skill levels, including juniors, seniors, and adaptive players.
- The longest pickleball match on record lasted 13 hours and 15 minutes and was played at the 2013 USAPA National Championships in Naples, Florida.
- The highest number of players in a single pickleball game was 1,100, achieved at the Pickleball Palooza event in Surprise, Arizona, on May 5, 2018.
- The highest number of people playing pickleball simultaneously is 5,549, also achieved at the Pickleball Palooza event in Surprise, Arizona, on May 5, 2018.
- The highest number of people playing pickleball in one day is 9,596, once again achieved at the Pickleball Palooza event in Surprise, Arizona, on May 5, 2018.
- The best participation in a pickleball tournament was 3,600, achieved at the 2018 USAPA National Championships in Casa Grande, Arizona.
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