History of Pickleball Timeline

Short excerpts from the book: History of Pickleball – More Than 50 Years of Fun! 

Since it’s “birth”, pickleball has attracted millions of players from around the world.
Here’s a timeline of the history of pickleball over the past 50+ years!

Seattle Skyline. Illustration copyright 2018. May not be reproduced without authors permission.

Pickleball was “born” in Bainbridge Island, WA. Founders were Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. The sport was named after the family dog “Pickles” who kept chasing the ball. Pickle’s ball.

The first permanent pickleball court (built specifically for pickleball, not badminton or a temporary court), was constructed at Joel and Joan Pritchard’s home in Magnolia Bluff, Seattle.

A corporation was formed‒Pickle-Ball Inc.‒to protect the creation of this new sport.

The National Observer published an article about pickleball which helped launch both awareness of the sport and mass orders of product.

Tennis magazine published the story “America’s Newest Racquet Sport.”

The first-known pickleball tournament was held at South Center Athletic Club in Tukwila, WA.

Pickleball began at Thousand Trails Resorts, a nationwide network of RV parks.

United States Amateur Pickleball Association (U.S.A.P.A.) was organized to perpetuate the growth and advancement of pickleball on a national level.

  • The first Executive Director and President of U.S.A.P.A. was Sid Williams.
  • The first rulebook was published in March.
  • The first composite paddle was invented by Arlen Paranto.
  • U.S.A.P.A. hosted the first-ever National Doubles Pickleball Championships in Tacoma, WA.

The Villages, FL, built its first permanent courts.

Joel Pritchard passed away at age 72. Although he was Washington State’s Lieutenant governor for a while, he is probably better known for his connection to the birth of pickleball.

The first Thousand Trails tournament was held at Pio Pico RV Resort, CA.

The first National Championship Tournament was hosted by The Villages, FL.

Pickleball was included for the first time in the Huntsman World Senior Games, held yearly in St. George, UT.

  • “39 Known Places to Play in North America” was listed online. This represented 10 states, three Canadian provinces, and about 150 individual courts.

The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) becomes a nonprofit corporation.

Bill Bell passed away at age 83.

The Rules Committee published the USA Pickleball Association Official Tournament Rulebook – Revision: May 1, 2008.

  • Pickleball was included for the first time in the National Senior Games Association (NSGA).
  • 420 “Places to Play in North America” were listed on the USAPA website. This represented 43 states, four Canadian provinces, and about 1,500 individual courts. (This does not include many courts at private homes.)
  • ABC’s “Good Morning America” aired a segment about pickleball – the first mass media exposure of the sport.

The first USAPA National Tournament was held in Buckeye, AZ. The tournament drew 400 players from 26 states and several Canadian provinces.

The International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) was created.

The first Tournament of Champions was held in Utah, with $46,500 in cash prizes.

Pickleball Channel website was launched (first professional media group).

The first USAPA Ambassador Retreat was held.

  • International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA) was created.
  • More than 2 million people play worldwide, with the number expected to grow to 8 million in a few years.

Pickleball Magazine was launched (first full-color, professional print, and digital magazine).

  • First US Open Pickleball Championships were held in Naples, FL.
  • More than 4,600 “Places to Play” were listed on the USAPA website.
  • USAPA announced it had more than 17,000 members, created the Referee Certification Program, and formed a relationship with St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
  • Super Senior International Pickleball Association (SSIPA) was created for ages 60 and better.

Pickleball Hall of Fame was created.

  • More than 5,869 “Places to Play” as of November were listed on the USAPA website.
  • CBS Sports Network carried a two-hour nationally televised broadcast of USAPA National Championships.


Scroll to Top