app tour vs ppa pickleball

PPA Pickleball and APP Tour – Differences and Similarities in 2023

The Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) and the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) are dueling (competing) professional pickleball tournament tours with ever-increasing prize purses and one upsmanship. Launched in 2020, both tours have ushered in, unquestionably, the most exciting era that the sport of pickleball has ever seen!

However, there are fairly significant differences between the two pickleball tours. Below, we outline a handful of the primary differences and similarities between the APP Tour and PPA Pickleball with respect to USA Pickleball sanctioning, the use of referees, video-streaming, sponsors, the cost to play, total prize money payouts, player rankings, contracts, and appearance fees.


Tour Affiliations

APP Tour

The APP Tour caters to professionals, amateurs, senior pros, super senior pros, Next Gen, and collegiate. They also partner with USA Pickleball to stage the National Championships Series.

PPA Tour

The PPA Tour caters to professionals and amateurs. The PPA Tour also partners with Major League Pickleball.


USA Pickleball Sanctioning

APP Tour

The APP Tour is USA Pickleball sanctioned at the MMP (Medal Match Plus) level. Consequently, an active USA Pickleball membership is required to play in the APP tour events.

PPA Tour

The PPA is not USA Pickleball sanctioned, and, consequently, a USA Pickleball membership is not required to participate. The PPA Tour has also tweaked a few of the rules – most noticeably the replay of let serves (as opposed to playing the let) and a replay if the referee deems the server has executed an illegal serve (as opposed to a fault being called).


Referees

APP

  • Pro Matches: All APP Tour pro matches have a referee.
  • Non-Pro Matches: Because the APP Tour is USA Pickleball sanctioned at the MMP level, all medal matches have a referee. Additionally, the winner’s bracket final match has a referee as will the match leading up to the bronze medal match in the consolation bracket.

PPA

  • Pro Matches: All PPA pro matches have a referee.
  • Non-Pro Matches: Only PPA gold medal matches have a referee in the non-pro division. Remember, the PPA is not USA Pickleball sanctioned.

Video Streaming

APP

The APP Tour events are live-streamed to Facebook and YouTube via the APP Tour Facebook Page and APP Tour YouTube Channel

On January 22, 2023, the APP announced broadcast deals with CBS Sports and ESPN. “The two deals guarantee a combined 20 hours of televised coverage across CBS Sports Network and ESPN2 of all 16 2023 APP Tour events, plus more than 200 hours of livestream coverage on ESPN+ and APP TV.”

PPA

The PPA has partnered with Fox Sports, Tennis Channel, CBS Sports, Regional Sports Networks, Facebook, and YouTube to broadcast their tournaments. They have also had special events televised on NBC and ABC.

PPA events are also live-streamed to Facebook via their Official PPA Tour Facebook Page.


Sponsors

APP

As of January 2023 (as listed on their website), APP Tour sponsors included Discount Tire, Skechers Pickleball, SunMed, Joola Pickleball, Gamma Sports, Selkirk, ProXR Pickleball, Onix, CanDo, C&D Pickleball Nets, Power Plate, Pickleball United, LSI Sports Lighting, Cora Physical Therapy, Chicken N Pickle, Pickleball Central, USA Pickleball, Pickleball Magazine, LevelUp Camps.

PPA

The PPA offers different levels of sponsorship with Carvana as their official sponsor.

As of January 2023 (as listed on their website), PPA Platinum sponsors included Baird, Hertz, and Select Medical. 

The PPA also has Gold, Silver, Base, and Paddle sponsors.


Cost to Play

Costs to play in either the APP or PPA are quite high – even for those who are not pros.

For the APP events, we used the Punta Gorda Open (January 11-15, 2023) as a reference point.
For the PPA events, we used the PPA Atlanta Open in Peachtree Corners, GA (May 17-21, 2023) as a reference point.

APP

  • Pro Credentials: $80 registration + $130/event fee
  • Champion Senior Pro: $80 registration + $120/event fee
  • Non-Pro: $80 registration + $40/event fee

PPA

  • Pro/Senior Pro:  $95 registration + $120/event fee (senior pro) or $135event fee (pro)
  • Non-Pro: $95 registration + $40/event fee

Prize Money

Both tours offer pretty significant prize money.

APP

In past years, the APP total prize money payout for each APP Tour event ranged from approximately $25,000 – $75,000. Once we have the numbers for 2023, we will update this article.

PPA

The tour boasts a single-season prize money purse of $5.5 million. The total prize money payout for each PPA event is over $200,000. Gold card players (more on that below) will receive double the prize money.


Player Rankings

For 2023, each tour is using a different source for player rankings.

APP

APP rankings are calculated on a 12-month rolling calendar. The APP uses UTPR for player ratings.

PPA

The PPA has adopted DUPR as its official rating system.


Contracts, Appearance Fees & Exclusivity

Over the past couple of years, excitement has been growing for pickleball pros. There is a demand for the top pros at any-and-every tournament as it lends credibility, and excitement and enhances registration numbers when the very best players in the world are competing.

Each tour is a little different when it comes to contracts, appearance fees, and “exclusivity.”

APP

At the time of writing this article, the APP was still in player negotiations. We will update this article once we have a better understanding of the 2023 player contracts. We do know that they offer two categories.

Elite:

  • Pro Players entry fees to be comped – Top 10 from World Pickleball Rankings (WPR) will be used
  • Senior Pro entry fees to be comped – Top 5 from APP Rankings will be used

Challengers:

  • Pro Players entry fees to be comped – Top 5 players from the World Pickleball Rankings (WPR) will be used
  • Senior Pro entry fees to be comped – Top 5 from APP Rankings will be used

PPA

At the end of 2022, the PPA partnered with the MLP. As it has in the past, the PPA continues to be very aggressive with respect to contracts.

Players with the PPA have been divided into 2 categories – Gold and Silver. Both categories require a 2-year commitment and get their PPA event fees comped.

  • Gold players are required to play in 20 PPA events and all 6 MLP events. They are excluded from playing outside of the MLP and PPA. They receive 2 times the payouts in MLP and PPA events. They also receive an appearance fee and benefits package.
  • Silver Players are required to play in 5 PPA events and all 6 MLP events. Their PPA event fees are comp’d, but they do not receive an appearance fee. They are not exclusive and can play in non-PPA events.

Events in 2023

Both tours offer tournament stops across the U.S.

APP

There are approximately 16 APP tour events tentatively scheduled for 2023. 

In 2023, the APP will be headed to: 

  • Punta Gorda, FL
  • Daytona Beach, FL
  • San Diego, CA
  • Mesa, AZ
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • New York City, NY
  • San Jose, CA
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Chicago, IL
  • New Jersey
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Dallas, TX
  • Hilton Head Island, SC
  • Houston, TX

PPA

There are approximately 25 PPA tour events tentatively scheduled for 2023. (PPA official 2023 tournament schedule)

In 2023, the PPA will be headed to:

  • Rancho Mirage, CA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Mesa, AZ
  • Lakeville, MN
  • Daytona Beach, FL
  • Austin, TX
  • St. George, UT
  • San Diego, CA
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Peachtree Corners, GA
  • Rockwall, TX
  • San Clemente, CA
  • Nashville, TN
  • Denver, CO
  • Seattle, WA
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Brigham City, UT
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Boca Raton, FL
  • Orlando, FL
  • San Clemente, CA

Our Personal Experiences with Each Tour

We at PickleballMAX have been fortunate to attend the APP and PPA tournaments in our hometown of Cincinnati.

From 2020-2022, the APP tour was held on 18 dedicated pickleball courts at Lefferson Park in Middletown, Ohio. We volunteered each year and we were able to see how hard Ken Herrmann and his team work behind the scenes. It was well-run and had a local (park) feel to it. The amateurs particularly enjoyed it. However, it didn’t have all of the amenities for the pros.

The PPA tour, on the other hand, was held at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio in September 2022. This venue plays host to the Western & Southern Open – one of the largest tennis events in the country. The majority of courts used by amateurs were taped. For the pros, a handful of the tennis courts were converted into dedicated pickleball courts. The pros also had their own lounge and shaded areas. 

I think it’s fair to say that PPA events are geared toward professionals while the APP events are more “friendly” to amateurs.

Final Thoughts

Both the APP Tour and PPA are great for the sport of pickleball. Time will tell if they both can continue to be viable in the long term. In the meantime, however, there are exciting opportunities for both pros and non-pros alike to showcase their talents and addiction to the sport.

For more tournament tips be sure to check out our pickleball tournament page.

See you on the courts!

About Teresa

Teresa is the idea-maker behind PickleballMAX. Teresa joins Todd to manage and market PickleballMAX. She creates pickleball content and assists with pickleball tournaments. In 2023, she wrote a pickleball devotional book titled Pickleball Is [Not] Life

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