All Things Pickleball: History & Fun Facts

by | May 20, 2024 | Activities

Pickleball has been around since the 60s, but its popularity has really skyrocketed in the last several years!

Known for its accessibility and health benefits, pickleball has quickly become a beloved sport appealing to all ages. It’s no wonder so many people have hopped on the bandwagon!

Let’s explore all things pickleball, including the history and fun facts surrounding this treasured national pastime.

History of Pickleball

History of Pickleball

Photo credit: USA Pickleball

The story of pickleball begins in the summer of 1965 on Washington State’s very own Bainbridge Island!

Joel Pritchard, a congressman, along with his friends Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, were searching for a way to entertain their families. With a badminton court but no shuttlecock in sight, they decided to improvise. 

Using ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball, they created a brand-new game. The combination of various elements from different sports resulted in the birth of pickleball!

The Origin of the Name

The name “pickleball” has two popular origin stories. 

One version is that it was named after the Pritchard family’s dog, Pickles, who would chase after the ball. The other version is that Joel Pritchard’s wife, Joan, likened the game to a pickle boat in crew, where rowers were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. 

Regardless of your preferred story, the name has become synonymous with this enjoyable and engaging sport.

Expanding Popularity

From its humble beginnings, pickleball quickly gained popularity in the Pacific Northwest. By the 1970s, the sport had a dedicated following. 

The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) was established in 1984 to promote the sport and standardize its rules. The rise of the internet further fueled pickleball’s growth, making it one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States.

Rules of Pickleball

Pickleball is a blend of several sports. It’s played on a badminton-sized court with a tennis-style net. The game uses paddles similar to oversized ping-pong paddles and a plastic ball similar to a wiffle ball. It can be played in singles or doubles format. 

The serve is underhand, and points can only be scored by the serving side. Games are typically played to 11 points, requiring winning by two points. 

The non-volley zone, known as “the kitchen,” adds a strategic element by preventing players from volleying close to the net.

Pickleball Stats in 2024

People playing pickleball

Today, pickleball is played by millions around the world. It boasts international tournaments, professional players, and a vibrant community of enthusiasts. 

Pickleball brings together players of all ages, fostering a sense of community and healthy competition!

Here are some fun facts about Pickleball in 2024:

  1. Fastest Growing Sport: Pickleball continues to be one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States, with participation doubling in 2022 and increasing by 85.7% year-over-year!
  2. Player Count: Approximately 50 million Americans have played pickleball at least once in the past year, representing nearly 19% of the adult population.​
  3. Age Diversity: The sport is widespread across all age groups. 33% of core players are over 65 years old, with 27.8% between the ages of 18 and 34. The average age of pickleball players is around 38.
  4. Global Reach: Pickleball has become an international phenomenon, with over 60 countries participating in the World Pickleball Federation!
  5. Professional Leagues: The Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) now hosts over 20 major tournaments annually.
  6. Court Availability: The number of dedicated pickleball courts in the U.S. has surpassed 40,000, with many community centers and parks converting existing tennis courts to accommodate the growing demand.
  7. Health Benefits: Pickleball has been shown to improve flexibility, lower blood pressure, and build strong muscles.
  8. Pickleball is the official sport of Washington State as of 2022!

Where To Play Pickleball in the Lake Chelan Valley

Lake Chelan Pickleball Club

Photo credit: Lake Chelan Pickleball Club

If you’re looking to get your pickleball fix during your next stay at Lake Chelan, we have just the thing! 

Here are four options for playing pickleball in the Lake Chelan area:

1. Don Morse Park —Conveniently located in downtown Chelan, Don Morse Park features four public pickleball courts.

2. Chelan High School—featuring three outdoor hard courts.

3. Singleton Park in Manson—A short walk from your room at The Lodge! It has a shared pickleball/basketball court, so be sure to bring your own net.

4. Darnell’s Resort, organized by the Lake Chelan Pickleball Club—The Lake Chelan Pickleball Club plays here from April through October. Check out their website for more information on how to join and drop-in pricing!

Additionally, there are a number of private or membership-based pickleball courts, including at North Shore Bible Church, Wapato Point Resort (free to guests of the resort), Mill Bay RV Resort (one-time fee), and Harmony Meadows (free for members, or can be booked one week in advance for non-members). See the full list of locations here!

Catch These Annual Pickleball Tournaments

The Manson Chamber of Commerce is delighted to partner with Wapato Point Resort and Pickleball Is Great to bring two seasonal pickleball tournaments to the Lake Chelan Valley! Both events aim to attract players of all ages and skill levels to the area in an All-Round Robin format with playoffs.

The spring pickleball tournament just took place in early May, with the next scheduled for the fall! 

Save the date for the weekend of October 4 – 6 for the 2024 Wapato Point Resort Fall Pickleball Open By PIG. Bonus: It’s walking distance from your room at The Lodge, and autumn is one of the BEST times to book a stay in Manson!

Stay Close to the Action When You Book at The Lodge!


Located in the heart of the Village of Manson, Mountain View Lodge & Resort is conveniently located near the public pickleball courts at Singleton Park and just a short drive from the courts in Chelan!Book online or give us a call today to book your summer getaway to the Lake Chelan Valley. We look forward to hosting you!