Pickleball: Unraveling the Mystery of Its Name

Pickleball is a game that combines elements of three different sports – badminton, tennis, and table tennis. It is played on a court with a net and paddles, and the goal is to hit the ball into your opponent’s court so they wouldn’t be able to return it.

Pickleball was first created in the 1960s by three men in Washington state, and it has since grown in popularity, particularly among seniors.

It is believed that pickleball is named after its creator, Joel Pritchard, who, along with his two friends, decided to create a new family game in 1965. The name “pickleball” is derived from the fact that the game was initially played with a Wiffle ball and paddle.

Pritchard had an old badminton court on his property where he saw his children playing badminton with a Wiffle ball. He and his friends then created their own version of the game, which they called “pickleball.” 

Let’s find out more about why pickleball is called pickleball, why there is stress on the term “pickle,” and what are some other names for this sport.

Why is Pickleball Called Pickleball?

The Origin of Pickleball

Why is pickleball called pickleball is a question that many people ask when they are first introduced to this game. There are a number of theories on the origin of this sport. One of them states that the game is called pickleball because it was originally played with a Wiffle ball. A Wiffle ball was invented to take the place of baseball as a lightweight alternative so it won’t break windows.

Pritchard decided to use the Wiffle ball in his newly invented game because this ball was less likely to break windows than a tennis ball. Moreover, since it was lightweight, even kids could play with it efficiently and without using much power. Pritchard’s wife, Joan, suggested the name “pickleball” after watching Pritchard and his friends play the game.

Joan is believed to have recalled later that she started calling it pickleball because the involvement of multiple sports reminded her of the pickle boat in crew where leftovers of other boats were used to provide rowers for the new boat.

However, this is just one theory behind the origin of pickleball. Another one states that the game was named after Pritchard’s dog, Pickles.

Back then, Pritchard and his friends started playing on a badminton court with ping-pong rackets because they couldn’t find enough equipment to play either tennis or badminton. Luckily, a perforated ball was also available handy, so they set up the net and started a new game.

Maybe you want to read this: Is Pickleball Easier than Tennis?

Soon they figured out the ball was bouncing perfectly on the asphalt surface. They also lowered the net to make the game less challenging for younger and less skilled people.

Check out this article: Can Pickleball Be Played On Concrete?

The game quickly caught on, and by the 1970s, pickleball courts were in all 50 states. Today, pickleball is played by people of all ages and is particularly popular among seniors. The game can be played singles or doubles, and it is an excellent way to get exercise and socialize.

Check out this article: Does Pickleball Burn Calories? and this Is Pickleball Good for Weight Loss?

It is now played on a court that measures 20 by 44 feet. The net is 36 inches high at the center and 34 inches at the sides. The ball used to play pickleball is similar to a Wiffle ball but is slightly larger and has more holes. The sport can be played with two or more players.

Read more about it here: What Are The Origins Of Pickleball?

What is the Difference between a Pickleball and a Wiffle Ball?

Though the two types of balls may appear similar at first glance, there are actually a few key differences between them.

One of the key differences between a Wiffle ball and a pickleball is size. Specifically, a Wiffle ball is slightly smaller than a pickleball. This size difference can impact how the two types of balls behave when they are hit.

For example, because it is smaller, a Wiffle ball will typically travel further when hit than a pickleball. Additionally, the smaller size of a Wiffle ball can make it more difficult to control than a pickleball.

Pickleballs have fewer holes than Wiffle balls and a larger surface area. Unfortunately, these features make them heavier and slightly tricky to control.

It is not recommended to use a Wiffle ball in professional pickleball. However, for a casual game, you can use a smaller ball designed like a Wiffle ball, but keep in mind that it won’t bounce like a pickleball and will be more difficult to control because it is lightweight.

Moreover, playing pickleball with a wooden paddle will make the ball go out of bounds, even if you’re hitting with a small force. So, playing this sport with a Wiffle ball won’t be much fun.

Related article: What is the Best Pickleball Paddle Material?

What Does Pickle Mean in Pickleball?

As pickleball grew in popularity, more terms were introduced to state the game’s rules and make learning easier. For example, the kitchen was used to describe the no-volley zone on the court where it was prohibited for a player to volley.

Read more on the kitchen here: What is the Kitchen in Pickleball?

Pickle in pickleball refers to the warning given out by the serving player that he is about to serve. It is usually shouted to alert all the other players so they can get into their respective positions and start the game.

Alternative Names for Pickleball

While there are no alternative names for this sport, some people call it cutthroat pickleball or Australian Doubles if you play it with three players. Another suggestion is to call it “cheeseball” because the yellow ball looks much like cheese because of the perforations. Moreover, since the game was originally invented to make everyone happy, the name cheeseball seems appropriate and spot on.

Some people also want to call this sport “clackball” owing to the characteristic clack sound the ball makes when it comes in contact with the paddle. And finally, since it has a kitchen, it can also be called “kitchen combat” or maybe paddleball because it uses paddles instead of rackets.

Whatever you want to call it, its original name will always sound more apt and unique!

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