The Origins of Pickleball


Pickleball was created in the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, Washington.  The original purpose of the game was to provide a sport for the entire family, according to co-inventors Barney McCallum, William Bell and former U.S. Rep. Joel Pritchard.  The game got its name from Pickles, the family dog that would chase after errant balls and hide them in the bushes — hence, Pickles’ ball.

Since the mid-1970s, pickleball has evolved from a family activity to a net-court sport with formalized rules.  Today, the sport is played throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Japan, Singapore and western Europe.  In the 1980s, a national organization — the USA Pickleball Association — was formed and now has more than 20,000 members.  Pickleball courts can now be found in many fitness centers, parks, educational institutions and correctional facilities.

Pickleball Comes to Hot Springs Village


In 2006, Hot Springs Village resident Dee Vincent thought that pickleball would be a great sport to add to those already offered in the Village.  She first played pickleball in Happy Trails, Arizona, and loved the fast-paced, aerobic game that is played on a badminton-sized court.  Being less strenuous than tennis and taking less time than a game of golf, pickleball would be a perfect outdoor game for a community with more older residents.

When Dee approached the POA’s Recreation Committee in May 2006 about converting a tennis court to several pickleball courts, committee members said they needed proof of enough interest in the game to warrant the expense.  Dee then scheduled several open demonstrations and 108 Villagers showed up for a lesson.  Soon after, the POA painted a pickleball court in the center of each of the Village’s three original tennis courts.  In 2007, the POA formally converted one of the tennis courts to four pickleball courts. In 2011, the POA converted another tennis court to pickleball, and there are now 8 regulation courts at the Family Recreation Area on DeSoto Blvd.

In addition to being the founder of HSV Pickleball, Dee also serves as ambassador for the U.S.A. Pickleball Association.  Her role is to promote pickleball clubs in surrounding areas.

In September 2006, Hot Springs Village Pickleball sent its first participants to the Arkansas Senior Olympics, which was held in Hot Springs.  Twelve Village pickleball players earned ribbons during the event that attracted athletes from Arkansas and surrounding states.

By 2008, pickleball had become a well-known sport in the Village.  Pickleball players were enjoying monthly tournaments as well as welcoming visitors from other states who wanted to learn about the sport during their stay in the Village.

Only three years after HSV Pickleball was formed, members hosted the 2009 Arkansas Senior Olympics Pickleball tournament.  Participants came from Tennessee, Louisiana and Texas in addition to Arkansas.  Gold medals were won by 15 Village players and another eight players won silver or bronze medals.

Another “first” for HSV Pickleball was the 2010 Spring Pickleball League.  More than 35 people played in the weekly competitions which took place during an eight-week time frame.

HSV Pickleball also joined in the Village’s 40th Anniversary celebration with an “open house” in April 2010.  More than 50 curious residents arrived at the courts for a look at the sport and many were intrigued enough to try it out.  Numerous club members were on hand as greeters and teachers and, before long, the courts were full of new players with varied sports backgrounds.  In addition, some of the club’s top players treated the visitors to a demonstration of playing techniques and strategy.