When I started playing pickleball, I must admit I was confused by the name. I thought it should be called Wiffle Tennis or something similar.
For years, when somebody new to the game asked me why it was called pickleball, I’d say, “I’m not sure. I’ve heard a story that the people who created the game had a dog named Pickles who always stole the ball.”
I admitted the name was silly and thought it should be changed. But now that I’ve played the game for so long, I’ve learned to accept and love the name. Here are some reasons why pickleball should always be called pickleball:
- The name is fun, like the game itself! Whether you win or lose, playing pickleball is always a good time.
- It’s not really “wiffle tennis”; it’s more like “paddle wiffle tennis played on a court that feels more suited for badminton, but not quite, with different scoring. Plus, it has a no-volley zone and a two-bounce rule, and you have to serve underhand.” And that’s simply way too long to say.
- It can be a great conversation starter when somebody asks, “Why is it called Pickleball?” You can delve into the history a bit if you want. Or just say, “Nobody really knows…” It makes the game a bit more mysterious.
- The word pickle has worked its way into the game’s lexicon. If you don’t score in a game, you don’t get “shutout,” you get “pickled.” It sounds so much better! When you love pickleball, you can call yourself a “pickler.” I guess if you’re a pickler who loves to make pickles, you can be a Pickler².
- Pickleball has become very mainstream. You see pickleball referenced in commercials, TV shows, and other parts of popular culture today. All sorts of influencers and celebrities are now getting into pickleball, though I’m still waiting for the dream doubles match of Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift vs Jason and Kiely Kelce. The game is so popular now that the name simply has to stay.
- Finally, just like my dad used to say, “If it works, don’t fix it.” Pickleball is an easily recognizable name, despite the game having nothing to do with actual pickles.
So now, when somebody asks me, “Why is it called Pickleball?” I answer, “It’s a fun name for an entertaining sport.” Simple as that!
For those of you who are history buffs, I did look into the origins of the name pickleball, which you can also check out in our article here. The Pritchard family did have a dog named Pickles, who loved to steal the pickleballs during games. But instead of the game being named after Pickles, Pickles was actually named after the game, as the Pritchard family didn’t have Pickles for two years after the game had already been named.
According to the family, Joan Prichard was a competitive rower, and she named the game Pickleball because it reminded her of a pickle boat. In rowing lingo, a pickle boat refers to a weaker, mismatched crew.
Perhaps that’s why the “Pickles stole the ball” story stuck better. It’s a bit more fun than being named after the slow boat!
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?