The Rise of Pickleball, Washington’s Official Sport
I've known that Pickleball started here, somewhere in Washington state. But when and how was the game invented? To answer this, we have to go back to the height of Beatlemania.
The Birth of Pickleball
In the summer of 1965, on Bainbridge Island, Washington; two men couldn’t find enough badminton racquets for the family to play. They devised a way to play anyway using ping pong paddles and hole punched plastic ball.
They were playing an improvised game of badminton, hitting the plastic ball up and over the 5 foot badminton net.
Noticing that the holey plastic ball bounced well on the concrete, the family decided to lower the net down to three feet. The family loved it. Congressman Joel Pritchard, his buddy Bill Bell introduced the game to another friend, Barney McCallum. These three devised some rules and became the godfathers of modern day pickleball.
Here is video of the actual first pickleball court on Bainbridge Island!
In the spring of 1976, the first known pickleball tournament in the world took place at an athletic club in Tukwila, Washington.
The very first official rule book was published in March of 1984, by the United States Amateur Pickleball Association. A few months later, while visiting my high school buddies' family timeshare at Wapato Point in Manson - I played my first game of pickleball. I remember that my friend and I were really competitive and played for hours that day.
By 1990, the game was played in all 50 states.
In 2022, The State of Washington named Pickleball as our official state sport.
Today in 2023, USA Pickleball membership numbers reached the 70,000 mark in February of 2023, after a nearly 30 percent increase in membership growth in 2022. In its 2023 Topline Participation Report, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) named pickleball the fastest-growing sport in America for the third year in a row.
Wanna learn the sport? Click this and make it happen!
According to the report, pickleball is now up to a total of 8.9 million players in the United States over the age of six years old, an increase from 4.8 million in 2022. To find a club or tournament near you, Click this link and have fun!
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