On a hot summer day in 1965, an angsty 13-year-old boy got into an argument with his father. The boy was bored. And complaining about it. The father told him to make up a game. That's what he had done when he was the boy's age. The boy taunted back, "Why don't YOU make up a game?"
And so, Joel Pritchard took his son's advice. He picked up a plastic ball the boy had been given for his birthday and headed for the badminton court. Eventually, he lowered the net and crafted crude paddles to hit the ball over it.
Pickleball was born.
While many of you already knew pickleball was invented by a family during a stay at their summer house on Bainbridge Island (a small city in western Washington state, connected to Seattle by ferry), what is surprising is the universally relatable nuance of the story.
A bored kid, who just wants to be back in Seattle with friends, complaining to his father that there's nothing to do.
If you have kids, or nieces, or nephews, we bet it does.
Frank Pritchard, the complaining kid in this pickleball saga came clean last year in an interview with Mental Floss.
"'I don't think my father wanted people to know his child was a complainer, so that became the story,' Frank tells Mental Floss. All these years later, the younger Pritchard is ready to come clean. The true catalyst for pickleball? Well, 'it just started because I was being a sh*tty little kid,' Frank admits."
In the same interview, Frank also confirms a long-standing question of the pickleball community. Where did the name come from? Some have said the family dog. Some have said a reference to rowing.
"'...She [Mom] liked crew and when my father met her and they moved out to Seattle, UW had a big crew program. They had a term for a pickle boat, which is a boat filled with all the leftover rowers.' Frank's mother suggested that since Joel's game 'was a little bit of this and a little of that,' according to Frank, 'pickleball would be a good name.'"
We're glad to know the truth about the invention of pickleball. Even gladder to know that parents and children were dealing with the same things in 1965.
Even with iPads and YouTube and online gaming today, kids get bored. They need activities. And pickleball is the perfect one to cure boredom or too much couch time. Heck, now we know it was literally invented for that reason.
Pickleball gets kids moving. It allows them to be social. And most importantly, it's fun! That's why we're seeing more and more school programs adopt the game in recent years. YMCAs and other family rec centers are popping up pickleball programs. And families everywhere are discovering why the sport has grown from Joel Pritchard's backyard to all around the world.
Because bored children are everywhere and pickleball is the perfect antidote.
Which got us thinking...
Why haven't we seen paddles for kids? After all, the game was invented for them.
So we decided to do something about that.
Introducing Baddle Junior Paddles.
They aren't just our adult paddles scaled down to a smaller size. They're actually designed for optimal children's play. The grip is shorter and thinner. And the face of the paddle is slightly more elongated to keep the balance of the paddle feeling right, and to offer a large, comfortable sweet spot for children to learn.
Perfect for ages 6-12.
You can pre-order the Junior Pickleball Paddles here. Estimated delivery: February 2022.