The history of pickleball: Timeline from 1965 to present

Here are some details on the history of pickleball timeline, from 1965 to present.

Jaclyn Brandt

history of pickleball

06/03/2024

June 3, 2024

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Pickleball is only around 60 years old, so the history of the sport is fairly new. But with the new popularity of pickleball, it’s fun to look back at how it has grown over the years and how it became the sport it is today. Here are some details on the history of pickleball timeline.

1965: Pickleball is invented

Pickleball was invented during the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Two friends, Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell, were looking for something for their family to do. They had a pile of sports equipment — with a mix of badminton, table tennis, an asphalt court, a net, and wiffle balls — but not enough to play any one sport.


The story goes that the family tried to play badminton with a wiffle ball, but soon lowered the net and found the game much more fun.

Eventually, neighbor Barney McCallum joined them and the three of them, and their families, got together and wrote the rules of the new game.

1965: Pickleball gets its name

There are two stories about how pickleball got its name: 1. It was named after the family dog “Pickles,” or 2. It was named after “pickle boats,” which are boats in rowing with leftover team members.

USA Pickleball investigated the two stories and found that the dog Pickles was born in 1968, so it could not be how pickleball got its name.

Learn more about how pickleball got its name.

1967: First official pickleball court is built

In 1967, Joel Pritchard’s neighbor Bob O’Brian constructed the first permanent pickleball court.

1972: The Pickleball Corporation

In 1972, Pritchard, McCallum, and Bell created a corporation to protect the sport of pickleball.

1975: National Observer article

The National Observer was the first major newspaper to publish an article about pickleball.

1976: Tennis Magazine article

Tennis Magazine publishes an article about “America’s newest racquet sport.”

1976: First pickleball tournament

Eleven years after the creation of the sport of pickleball, the first known pickleball tournament was held at South Center Athletic Club in Tukwila, Washington, a suburb of Seattle.

Many of the players were college tennis players, and many of them had never played pickleball before.

1978: Pickleball mentioned in The Other Racquet Sports

What is perhaps the first book that mentions pickleball, The Other Racquet Sports included information about pickleball.

1982: Pickleball grows in Washington state

One of the pioneers of pickleball, Sid Williams, begins growing the sport by planning tournaments across Washington state.

1984: Creation of the USAPA

In 1984, the first organized association, the United States Amateur Pickleball Association (USAPA), was formed, with the goals of growing and advancing pickleball to a national level.

  • Sid Williams was named executive director.

  • USAPA hosted their first National Doubles Pickleball Championships in Tacoma, Washington.

1984: The first pickleball rulebook is published

Along with the creation of the USAPA, the very first official pickleball rulebook was published.

1984: First composite pickleball paddle

Arlen Paranto invents the very first composite pickleball paddle, a Boeing industrial engineer.

Paranto used his background at Boeing to create fiberglass/nomex honeycomb panels used by commercial airlines. He initially made 1,000 paddles with fiberglass/honeycomb and graphite/honeycomb cores.

1990: Pickleball is played in all 50 U.S. states

For the first time, pickleball is confirmed in all 50 U.S. states in 1990.

1997: Death of Joel Pritchard

Pickleball co-founder Joel Pritchard passes away at the age of 72. Even though he eventually became Washington state’s lieutenant governor — he is probably better known as one of the founders of pickleball.

1999: First pickleball website

The first pickleball website, Pickleball Stuff, is launched to provide players with pickleball information, including news, equipment, and products.

2005: USA Pickleball Association

The USAPA officially changes their name from the United States Amateur Pickleball Association to the United States of America Pickleball Association, and becomes a nonprofit corporation.

2006: Bill Bell passes away

One of the co-founders of pickleball, Bill Bell, passes away at the age of 83.

2008: USAPA’s first tournament rulebook

USA Pickleball Association’s Rules Committee publishes their USA Pickleball Association Official Tournament Rulebook.

2008: Good Morning America

Pickleball receives its first mass media exposure, with a segment on ABC’s Good Morning America.

2009: USAPA’s first national tournament

USA Pickleball Association holds its first national tournament in Buckeye, Arizona with 400 players from 26 states and Canadian provinces.

2010: International Federation of Pickleball

In 2010, the USA Pickleball Association launches the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) to “help foster the growth of the sport on an international level.”

2015: USA Pickleball continues to grow

In 2015, USAPA passes 10,000 members for the first time. According to a report by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), more than 2 million people now play pickleball.

2016: Pickleball referee program

In 2016, the USA Pickleball Association creates a national certified referee certification program.

2016: Pickleball Magazine

Also in 2016, Pickleball Magazine launches as pickleball’s first full-color, professional magazine.

2017: Pickleball Hall of Fame

The USA Pickleball Association and the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA) create the Pickleball Hall of Fame. In the first year, they inducted pickleball creators and pioneers:

  • Joel Pritchard

  • Barney McCallum

  • Sid Williams

  • Arlen Paranto

  • Mark Friedenberg

  • Billy Jacobsen

2017: APP Tour

The Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) Tour launches in June. The tour is the first USA Pickleball Association-sanctioned tour for professionals and amateurs.

2019: Barney McCallum passes away

Pickleball co-founder Barney McCallum passes away at the age of 93 in Seattle, Washington.

2020: USAPA becomes USA Pickleball

USAPA officially rebrands as USA Pickleball.

2021: Pickleball is the “fastest growing sport”

A Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) report names pickleball as the fastest-growing sport in the United States.

2023: USA Pickleball membership grows

In 2023, membership to USA Pickleball is at its highest level, with 70,000 members and an estimated 9 million pickleball players (over the age of six years old) in the United States.

Pickleball saw a 30 percent increase in players between 2021 and 2022.

2023: PPA Tour

USA Pickleball and the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) moves the USA Pickleball National Championships to Dallas, Texas.

Pickleball today

The sport of pickleball continues to grow, with hundreds of thousands of new players joining the sport each year. Pickleball is also making moves to become an international sport and there are campaigns to have it added as an Olympic sport.

Learn more about the history of pickleball.

Watch the video above for more details on the history of pickleball.