HONOLULU (KHON2) — Did you know that pickleball was named after a cocker spaniel?
The game is quickly becoming an internationally played sport with teams popping up around the globe. There’s even a restaurant chain based in Missouri called Chicken ‘n Pickle that provides rotisserie chicken alongside pickleball courts.
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“With pickleball, you can just start playing and, right off the bat, have a lot of fun and have good rallies. It really is a game for all ages and skill levels. Anybody can play with anybody. Pickleball’s getting out of the vibe that it’s an older person’s sport,” said Mike Barnes, founder of Selkirk Sports.
The USA Pickleball Association said that pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. with over 5 million players participating in the national league competitions. Best of all, it is a sport for all ages and skill levels.
“The growth of pickleball is just huge. And, it’s all grassroots. It’s not financed,” said Frank Street, a pickleball player from Spokane, WA.
Honolulu has its own pickleball league that has flourished over the last couple of years. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa even hosted its first Hawaiʻi State Pickleball Championship in October 2022.
Many like it because it is an easy, fun and team oriented way to be active and meet new people.
Randy Soriano, a local pickleball player said, “I’ve casually played tennis since I was younger, so the transition to pickleball was natural. I was introduced to it a few years ago when a few members of my Rotary Club started playing regularly. It was a good way to stay active while I recovered from an ankle injury.”
So, what is pickleball and who invented it?
Well, pickleball was invented in 1965 in Washington state by Joel Pritchard (a Washington state politician) and two of his peers Bill Bell and Barney McCallum.
According to legend, Pritchard and Bell had returned to Pritchard’s home in Bainbridge Island after a day of golf. They found their families sitting around with nothing to do. So, the two men attempted to wrangle up a full set of badminton equipment.
It is because they could not locate the full set that led to the creation of pickleball. The two men ended up inviting McCallum to join them, and the three men set out to create rules for the game.
Players use a small, plastic ball that’s perforated. The ball is hit back and forth between players with a paddle that is smaller than a tennis racket but larger than a ping pong paddle.
The game is played like a combination of tennis and ping pong. The net is set at waist height. Four players are on the court, and they lob it back and forth for points.
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In Honolulu, there is a pickleball tournament on March 5 at Waiʻalae Iki V Community Rec Center
on Laukahi Street if you are interested in checking out this game to see what all the fuss is about.