After having written previous reviews for PickleballTournaments.com and PickleballBrackets.com, I was recently approached by relative newcomer, Pickleball Den, to write a review of their pickleball tournament software.
As a digital marketer and a technology guru (at least from a user perspective), I always enjoy doing reviews of tournament management software.
Although I did not use Pickleball Den software for a “live” tournament, I was nevertheless able to demo and test all features in a very robust testing environment – including, but not limited to, the registration process, player check-ins, bracket creation, court assignments and the recording of scores.
Software Documentation & How-To’s
Before delving too deeply into the tournament software itself, let’s start with software documentation and the how-to’s – how to setup a tournament, how to create brackets, how to add players, etc. Although Pickleball Den does not have a lot of written documentation, they do make available a fairly extensive and helpful library of video tutorials that will assist both players and tournament directors with the tournament.
Account Creation and Event Registrations
Similar to other tournament software platforms, players have to first create a Pickleball Den account. Very straight-forward. Once your account is created, you can register (and pay) for any of the Pickleball Den tournaments listed. Once registered, Pickleball Den makes it easy to invite your partner to register with its “Invite Teammate” option.
Some Unique & Beneficial Features in Pickleball Den
Pickleball Den possesses a handful of features that are beneficial and unique to them:
Mobile Responsive Front-End (and Back-end) Interface
Pickleball Den has not only a front-end that is mobile-responsive, but a back-end that is as well. A mobile-responsive site simply means that the user (whether it be tournament director or player) will get a consistent experience regardless of which device (desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile) or device size you’re viewing it on.
It is extremely valuable to have all functionality and a consistent user experience when maneuvering on the back-end of the site and performing all game-day functions regardless of device.
Tournament User Roles
With Pickleball Den, a tournament director has the ability to add staff and volunteers and assign various roles to these individuals or groups. For example, individuals assigned as “court monitors” are able to input match scores down on the courts with their smartphones so that they do not have to make their way back to the centralized tournament desk.
Another helpful feature for the tournament director is the ability to send messages (text or in-app messaging) directly to these various groups/roles. This, obviously, helps with communication and organization.
Tournament Registration Discounts
The functionality for tournament directors to assign tournament registration discounts for “select” tournament participants was recently added. Issuing tournament registration discount works like this: As tournament director, you are prompted to enter in the amount of the discount. You then select the player(s) email. Once submitted, an email (or in-app notification) is sent to the player(s). The player “clicks” on the link, and it will automatically display the discount amount on the registration order form. The player does not need to enter any coupon code.
This functionality is very valuable. As someone who has run several tournaments, I issue tournament registration discounts for those who have previously taken pickleball lessons from me. I want to give my students a “break” on the registration fees. This automates the process as I no longer have to create a unique discount code for each one of my students.
With a Pickleball Den software-run tournament, the tournament director may opt for a centralized check-in desk where players report and are checked in by tournament volunteers. Alternatively, the software allows for self-check-in.
Self-check-in is a really helpful feature in that it “prevents” players from congregating and becoming bottlenecked at a centralized check-in desk. With self-check-in enabled, players arrive at the tournament – see a check-in code conspicuously displayed on the premises – and the players will then populate that code on the Pickleball Den website (while logged in) showing that they have arrived and are ready for play.
Itemized Player Activity
As tournament day progresses, players will see a log of all their activities on game-day “in app” or via text messaging – including when they have checked in, their assigned court for each match, and the scores for each of their completed matches.
Players can Enter Scores
As mentioned with “roles,” the tournament director has the option of allowing players to enter the scores for their completed matches. This removes the bottleneck (and time-waster) of having players walk to a centralized desk to report their scores.
With the software, it’s simply an option for allowing players to enter scores. You can keep that function with court monitors who may be walking around with smartphones and/or tablets – or you certainly can still have a centralized tournament desk do this. You have options.
An Automated Tournament on Game-Day
With Pickleball Den, virtually all aspects of game-day are automated. Once scores are entered by players or court monitors – or at a centralized tournament desk – courts are automatically assigned without the need of someone sitting at a centralized tournament desk.
Players whose teams have been assigned courts are then automatically notified via in-app messaging or text messaging. As the tournament director configures the tournament and brackets, they also have the option of randomizing the serving team. That is a very cool feature – as there is no longer a need to write a 1 or 2 on the back of a scoresheet or play rock/paper/scissors to determine who serves first.
Searching for the Court Assignment of a Specific Player
With Pickleball Den, a tournament director can easily search for a specific player to determine on which court they are playing. This is helpful if you’re running a large tournament and a family member, for example, asks on which court their brother or sister is playing.
Opportunities to Make the Software Even Better
While the Pickleball Den tournament software is quite robust from a functionality standpoint there are some things that can be improved upon to make it an even greater user experience for both the tournament director and tournament participants.
While the functionality of the site is quite robust, the overarching look of the site is a bit dated. By modernizing the look of the site – with bolder graphics, more exciting font types, and appropriate headings – the look would more closely match that which you would expect given its robust functionality.
The simulator is a tool that allows the tournament director to simulate the flow and time of the tournament based on bracket configurations, game formats, court availability, and more. While the Pickleball Den simulator spits out line-by-line data in text format, the almost-overwhelming line-by-line text format makes it quite difficult for the tournament director to easily see the flow (or bottleneck) of the tournament.
Instead of (or perhaps in addition to) the line-by-line text format of the simulator, a graphical interface would be helpful. This would allow the tournament director to more easily (and at a glance) see game-day court availability, starting and ending times, and more.
Toggling between Brackets
If the tournament has multiple brackets running, it would be extremely useful to be able to “jump” from one bracket to the next. This would be a helpful – and simple – enhancement.
Pickleball Den – the relatively new kid in town – is a great option to try if you’re managing a pickleball tournament.
While there are opportunities for improvement, most of these opportunities revolve around making the site a little more modern looking and “pretty.”
Pickleball Den is definitely worth a spin. What are your thoughts? Have you tried the Pickleball Den tournament software as either a tournament director or player?