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Pickleball Is a Combination of What 3 Sports?

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By Jacob Jackson

Pickleball has exploded in popularity over recent years as a paddle sport that strategically combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis into one addicting, exciting game. But what exactly were the key ingredients from those 3 sports that helped create pickleball back in 1965? Read on to learn about the origins and rapid evolution of this now-widespread pastime.

A Conversation That Sparked an Idea

Pickleball can trace its origins back to the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, just off the coast of Seattle. That year, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum, three fathers whose kids were bored with their limited summer entertainment options, set out to create a new game that would excite their families.

Pickleball Is a Combination

After experimenting with various equipment and setups, including a perforated plastic ball that Pritchard’s wife Joan found, they devised a game that blended elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis into a fun new sport their families could play together in their backyard.

Tennis, Badminton, Table Tennis – The Building Blocks of Pickleball

The three dads used the knowledge they had from playing tennis, badminton, and ping pong to create pickleball as we know it today. Here is a breakdown of how each of these 3 sports contributed to pickleball in those early days:

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Pickleball borrows tennis’s scoring system, court layout, and overall gameplay format – two teams on either side of a net trying to hit a ball back and forth over the net. The serve in pickleball is also very similar to a tennis serve.


However, some distinct differences were implemented in pickleball to set it apart. For starters, the court is much smaller – usually just 20×44 feet. Additionally, pickleball is played with a waffle-style plastic perforated ball instead of the fuzzy felt tennis ball. Paddles are also used instead of racquets.


From badminton, pickleball takes its lightweight feel and the use of paddles instead of racquets. Badminton of course uses shuttlecocks instead of a ball, but the back-and-forth volleying style of play was integrated into pickleball’s DNA.


Back in 1965, the Pritchard, Bell, and McCallum families fashioned makeshift plywood paddles after badminton racquets for their original homemade paddles. So badminton was an inspiration.

Table Tennis

And from table tennis – or ping pong – pickleball gets its small, lightweight ball and emphasizes lighting fast volleys and quick reactions. The waffle-style pickleball closely mimics how a ping pong ball performs, especially indoors.

Table Tennis

Table tennis also utilizes paddles instead of long racquets, which pickleball adopted as well. And the initial pickleball nets used by those Bainbridge Island families back in ‘65 were old table tennis nets they had lying around.

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Spreading Like Wildfire Thanks to Its Blend of Fun

After melding components of these three paddle sports together into one fast-paced, exciting game, pickleball rapidly took off in growth by word of mouth.

Friends and neighbors of the Pritchard, Bell, and McCallum families heard about this new creation called pickleball and had to try it out for themselves. People wasted no time turning on to its addicting gameplay, and they began popping up makeshift pickleball courts all over the island and surrounding regions.

A couple of years after introducing it, competitive pickleball play started to ramp up with the introduction of tournaments. The unprecedented success and adoption of pickleball in those early years can be attributed to skillfully blending desired elements from three already popular sports into one.

The Rest is History

More than 50 years later, the growth of pickleball is still on a sharp upward trajectory. Enthusiasts around the world have those innovative dads from Bainbridge Island to thank for mashing up components of tennis, badminton and table tennis to create the sport we know today as pickleball.

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From schoolyards to community recreation centers to the professional circuit, you can now find pickleball courts and eager players just about everywhere. And it is still attracting new admirers every day thanks to its wholesome fun for all ages.

Get Out and Give Pickleball a Shot!

If you have yet to give pickleball a try, what are waiting for? Find your nearest pickleball location and experience for yourself this one-of-a-kind paddle sport!

Whether you are a tennis player looking to change up your routine, a table tennis enthusiast wanting to take your game outdoors, or someone who loves fast-paced activities that provide a rush – pickleball is for you! It combines the most exciting elements of all three founding sports into one.

The sport whose invention was sparked by summer boredom is now enjoyed by millions. And with more courts popping up by the day, the future looks bright for one of America’s fastest-growing games. Pickleball truly was genius in its simplicity of borrowing what works from 3 classic paddle sports to create a whole new ballgame.

So don’t hesitate – grab a paddle this summer and hit the pickleball courts! Your new favorite hobby is waiting for you.

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