Why is it called pickleball

November 6, 2022
Read Time:5 Minute, 53 Second

The theory behind “the name of the game” has been around since 1965 and won’t become outdated!

A boat and a dog — no, a pickle jar instead? Which fact of a name is actual and which is false is always tricky to guess, and the reason why is it called pickleball is sure to raise many questions and confuse people.

Don’t worry; I’ll answer all your questions here and help you understand the background of why is pickleball called pickleball.

How Pickleball Got Its Name?

Since everyone is curious about what precisely the actual story is and who decides to keep this odd name for a sport, and why do they call it pickleball? 

Let’s face it: the dog story is more popular than the actual theory explaining why is the game called pickleball got. However, if you’re interested in learning more about Pickleball’s history, click here.

Joel Pritchard’s wife came up with the name pickleball for their game since “the blending of various sports did remind her of the pickle boat from her past!

According to Barney McCallum:

the “Pickles” was the name of the Pritchards’ dog. Their dog was friendly and often stole the ball during games, so they followed this story to name the game.

I understand that the two different stories must be confusing to you, and you must be wondering which one to believe. To help you decide which story to accept I’m going to explain each of them in detail!

Story #1: ​Pickles the dog

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Pickle’s dog

This is how the so-called “dog story” goes. The Joel’s Pritchard and his friends invented Pickleball in the 1965 summers on Bainbridge Island, Washington, to get their children out of the house and move around and play. 

Some say that Jeannie Pritchard and Paul Brown, two of the youngest Pritchard and Brown, were walking down a road near their families’ summer homes on Bainbridge Island when they saw a box of puppies on a roadside.

Each of them brought a new puppy back to the Pritchards’ house, where the game of pickleball was first developed. 

The Browns gave their dog the name Lulu, while the Pritchards went with Pickles for their new puppy.

The story goes that since then, “Pickles,” the Pritchards’ dog, has followed the young people onto the court to cause issues with their play which is now known as pickleball.

According to the story, pickleball why is it called so and how the game got its name: because Pickles the dog would chase the ball around the court as if it were “Pickle’s ball.” Does that sound like the sweetest story? Maybe it’s a little too good to be true.

However, a 5-minute documentary on the subject by the Pickleball Channel features interviews with family members, but the story still has some significant flaws.

The USA pickleball claims that the dogs weren’t discovered by the Pritchard and Brown families until 1968 is the first pitfall pointed out in the dog’s story.

Story #2:  The Pickle Boat

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Joan Pritchard named the game pickleball, which was the inspiration for the name came from the fact that it kept reminding her of the “pickleball boat,” a popular term used in college crew competitions.

The game’s name is after the popular college crew game, “Pickle Boats.”

A “pickle boat” is a race between the leftover “extras” from other universities; it has been the sport since 1938, and residents frequently gathered to watch the boat races.

The university crew program is where Joan got the idea for the name “Pickleball”. She liked how the game shared concepts with other sports like badminton and table tennis.

This mix of game elements that led to the creation of pickleball reminded crew fan Joan Pritchard of the pickleboat.

In 1968, while the Pritchards and his close friends, the Bells, were chatting, the discussion of what to call the game that Joel and Bill had just accidentally invented came up.

Joan raised her hand and gave an example of a pickle boat, which worked well. Frank, Joan and Joel’s son, said he was there when his mother came up with the concept.

The first time Pritchard’s heard “pickle ball” was from his mother’s mouth while they were playing the game, he said. The name was officially taken on during the first summer of 1965.

Which Story Is True? – Why Did the Name Pickleball Stick?

Scholars from all over the world argue passionately about pickleball’s origins. Why the name pickleball such a strange name? There are constant back-and-forth arguments on the same topic, and nobody can agree on who’s right. 

Is there a special meaning behind the word “pickleball”? And which story is true, a dog one or a boat one? 

Well, I’m sorry to be the one to break your heart. The cutest story about a dog is entirely wrong; there wasn’t even a dog until three years after the game’s invention.

The Pritchard’s daughter confirms this by saying that 

“They didn’t even buy the dog until many years after the game’s invent, so he wasn’t the inspiration for its name. Dog’s name is a reference to the sport. Rather than the other way around. “

The game’s name was Joel’s wife’s choice, but the dog story is the one that most people find compelling. Because of this, it is the one that sells the game more. You should believe whatever makes the most sense to you! But the boat story is the real one!


Q: Who came up with the name pickleball?

Joel’s Pritchard wife came up with the name pickleball for a game.

Q: What is a pickle in pickleball?

There is no such thing as a pickle in the game of pickleball; instead, a pickle is the name of both a boat and a dog. 

Q: What is 3-person pickleball called?

The 3-person pickleball is called Cutthroat/Australian Doubles.

Q: What is the ball in pickleball called?

The Wiffle ball — also called a pickleball — is a very lightweight ball with a hole.

Conclusion: why is pickleball called pickleball

Pickleball is a great sport, and the tale surrounding the game’s name is almost as entertaining as playing the sport itself. 

When people first hear of the sport, they usually want to know why it’s called “pickleball,” but they’re generally not ready to listen to the actual explanation and instead prefer to believe the dog story. 

If you came to a conclusion without reading the rest of the article, then you’re missing out on the cutest story ever and should go back and read it in its entirety and know the reason behind why is pickleball called pickle.


  • pickleballhunter.com/why-is-it-called-pickleball/
  • pinkpickleball.com/why-is-it-called-pickleball/

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Hey, fellow pickleball player!

My name is Ethan Josephson. I am a pickleball enthusiast who has been playing this fantastic game for more than 5 years. Before that I had almost 20-years-experience with tennis and table tennis, but pickleball fascinated me completely.