top of page
Playing Tournaments

Interested in Pickleball Tournaments?

What You Need to Know and How to Prepare

How Do I Get Started?

• Find a partner of similar ability interested in tournament play

• Practice with the partner against players of same ability

• Ask one of the coaches to observe play and give feedback


Where Do I Find Tournaments?

• Go to

- Sign ups are 2-4 months before tournament date

• You can sort by state, tournaments are listed by date


How Do I Sign Up For a Tournament?

• Look for date and time registration opens

• Some tournaments require USAP membership, so become member before registration to hasten sign up

• On date of registration, sign in to as soon as registration time begins (some fill within minutes)

• If you don’t have a USAP or IPTPA rating established when signing up, don’t overrate yourself (generally tournament play is tougher than recreational play)

• Have as much of your partner’s information as possible to aid in sign up

• When your registration is done and you have identified your partner, have them complete registration ASAP or you may lose your spot


What is the Typical Tournament Format?

• Most tournaments are double elimination with a winner’s bracket and “consolation” bracket which allows teams to work their way back to the medal matches

- In some cases where the number of teams is low, a round robin format is used

• Matches in the winner’s bracket are typically the best 2 out of 3 games to 11 points while matches in the consolation bracket are typically 1 game to 15 points

What Should I Do 2 Weeks Before Tournament Date?

• Check to see specific date and time of your event

• Check to see what balls will be used

- Tournament balls usually are different than club balls

• Practice with your partner and use tournament balls

What Do I Need to Take On Tournament Day?

• Your ID

• Water Bottle, Electrolyte Drinks, Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Caps/Hats

• 2 Paddles, Change of clothes, towels

• Food: Snacks, energy bars, sandwiches

What Should I Do on Tournament Days?

• Arrive at tournament an hour early to sign up (you need an ID) and warm up

• Familiarize yourself with court layout

• Listen closely for your team to be called, you have only 5-8 minutes to get to your court and warm up

• Plan your bathroom breaks, there is no game delay allowed for this

• Leave your bag outside court, you may only take your paddle, water bottle and towel onto the court

• Leave valuables at home

• Be prepared to stay all day, delays between matches may occur

• If you win Bronze medal, you may have to stay as line judge for gold medal match


What Happens Before the Match Begins?

• Referee will check paddles for USAPA compliance

• Decide who will be first server (must wear sweat band on wrist)

• Decide if sun or wind gives one side of the court an advantage

• If you win the “toss”, decide if you will choose side or to serve or receive

- If you have choice of side, choose the side facing into the sun to start. That way, if you go to a third game, you will end the game with the sun at your back

What Should You Do During Warm-Ups?

• Practice dinks, volleys, drop shots, drives and serves

• Watch your opponents warm up. How do they move? Do they have physical limitations? Are they right or left handed? What type of serves do they use?

• Develop a game strategy with your partner

What Happens During the Match?

• Know your correct position and who is server: You may ask what the score is and if you are the correct server

• Referee calls the score, server has 10 seconds to serve (do not start serving motion until score is completely called)

• Referee monitors foot faults at kitchen, baseline on serves

• Players responsible for calling out balls

• If you disagree with call, you may appeal to referee but they will only overrule call if play is clearly seen

• Each team is allowed 2 one minute timeouts per game

• No coaching from sidelines is allowed except during time outs and between games

What Should You Do During The Match?

• Evaluate the other team’s strengths and weaknesses

• Communicate with your partner between points on what you see and how to take advantage

- If other team has weaker player, communicate what you see and how to play to that player

- If other team has tendencies, communicate with partner and how to attack

- If you are winning, stick with strategy and don’t let up

- If you are losing, call a time out and discuss new game plan (more dinks?, drive the ball at a certain player?, focus on a player’s backhand?, etc.)

• Remember, this is competitive play, not social

What May Happen During Tournament Day?

• Jitters

• Calls may not go your way. Be courteous to referees and line judges, they are volunteers

• You, your partner or both of you may have a “bad” day

• Weather may be sub-par

What Can You Do to Ensure a Good Tournament Experience?

• Be prepared

• Have a great attitude

• Encourage your partner


bottom of page