Have you played pickleball recreationally and are ready to compete at a higher level? Do you know what to look for when it comes to pickleball tournaments? Whether you plan to play in your first tournament or your 100th, you should find the best ones to participate in. Some tournaments have great reputations while others don’t.
There are many things to consider when looking for a tournament, such as:
- Is it being held indoors, or outdoors?
- What is the total cost to participate?
- What is the game format?
- Who is the tournament director?
Keep in mind that there are professional pickleball tournaments, such as the APP and PPA. There are also large annual tournaments such as the US Open and Nationals. All of these tournaments are large and can be costly, but can be worth participating in. However, before attending, we would recommend you find players (either locally, or online) who share their experiences from each tournament.
In addition to professional tournaments, there are many other ones offered throughout the country that provide great opportunities.
- Consider the Following Before Registering for a Pickleball Tournament
- Will the Tournament be Held Indoors or Outdoors?
- Is There a Rain Policy? How Does the Tournament Handle Rain Delays?
- What is the Match/Game Format?
- How Many Courts and Are They Permanent?
- What Ball is Being Used?
- How Much Does it Cost to Play?
- If Traveling, Are There Discounts?
- Is this Their First Tournament? Who is the Director and Who is Running the Desk?
- Has the Tournament Gotten Good Reviews in the Past?
Consider the Following Before Registering for a Pickleball Tournament
You want to have a great experience at a tournament. Here are some things to consider before deciding on which ones to register for:
Will the Tournament be Held Indoors or Outdoors?
Most times, the location and the time of year determine whether a tournament is held indoors or outdoors. However, you might have a tournament scheduled to be played outside during a summer day. Even though the weather might be great, there is still a risk of rain or extreme heat. That leads to the next point.
Is There a Rain Policy? How Does the Tournament Handle Rain Delays?
Typically, a tournament director should post on the registration website if there is a rain policy. Sometimes, they will refund a portion of your registration fee. Sometimes, they have a backup indoor venue. Sometimes, they offer the opportunity to purchase insurance. Other times, you’re out of luck if it rains.
What is the Match/Game Format?
Depending on the tournament format, you may get more play time or have a longer wait time between matches. Some different formats include double-elimination and round-robin.
How Many Courts and Are They Permanent?
The number of courts will help determine how long you might be waiting throughout the day. Of course, with fewer courts, you may be waiting longer between games. It depends on how experienced the tournament desk is. If they’ve run previous tournaments, they should know how to create the tournament so there will be minimal wait time between matches.
Other issues with courts are their proximity to each other, whether they are taped lines, and whether they use permanent or portable nets.
Dedicated pickleball courts should be spaced properly. Ideally, there should be enough space around the court so you can serve properly or hit an ATP. The nets should be secure, and set to the correct height. If not permanent, lines should be correctly taped with a tape that can withstand different weather elements.
What Ball is Being Used?
Will the tournament be using a DuraFast ball when you have only played with a Franklin X-40? If they are using a different ball than what you’re typically used to, you will need to practice with that ball ahead of time as each ball plays a little differently.
How Much Does it Cost to Play?
Depending if it is a small, local tournament or a national tournament, you may pay anywhere from $30 – $200+ to play in a tournament. When considering the cost, determine what is included. Is there a registration fee and a per-event fee? Does the cost include snacks or meal tickets? Is there a gift bag provided? Are there tournament shirts, or is that an additional fee? Is there an additional cost for insurance?
If Traveling, Are There Discounts?
If the tournament you’re considering is out of town, check to see if there is a block of hotel rooms offered at a discounted rate. Additionally, they may also offer coupons at the tournament for local restaurants, or stores.
Is this Their First Tournament? Who is the Director and Who is Running the Desk?
There’s a lot of preparation that goes into making a tournament successful. If a venue or club is running its first tournament, depending on the experience of the tournament director, it might not run too smoothly.
Has the director and tournament desk person run previous tournaments?
Both directors and the people running the desk need experience to run a smooth tournament. They should start with a small tournament and work their way up to a larger one.
Has the Tournament Gotten Good Reviews in the Past?
Typically, players like to share their experiences at a tournament – the good, bad, and ugly! Before registering, check with other players in your area to see if they have any experience with a particular tournament. Visit groups online to see if anything was said about a particular tournament. It will help you make an informed decision.
These are just a few of the many things that you should look for before registering for a pickleball tournament. Do you have other suggestions? Please list them in the comments below.
Fortunately, there are many different pickleball tournaments to satisfy competitors and even those who just want fun exercise while being social. Be sure to give a tournament a try!
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.