Our 60 second guide to how to play in a pickleball tournament covers finding and registering for tournaments, how pickleball tournaments work, and what to know before your first tournament!
How to Play in a Pickleball Tournament - Finding Tournaments
The best option for finding pickleball tournaments is pickleballbrackets.com. This site is used by the 2 pro tours (APP and PPA) and by most other tournaments for registration, tourney info, and running the actual tournament draws.
Some tournaments may not pay the fees to be on pickleballbrackets.com, though. So other good options for finding pickleball tournaments are:
- USA Pickleball (USAPA)
- Groups like 002 Pickleball, DUPR and the APA (Amateur Pickleball Association
- Google “pickleball tournaments” and include your city, nearby cities, or state (e.g., pickleball tournaments Phoenix).
How to Register for a Pickleball Tournament
Once you have found a tournament to play in, registering is usually pretty easy.
Just go to the tournament’s registration site (e.g., www.pickleballbrackets.com) and follow the steps to register.
Most tournaments offer gender doubles and mixed doubles, and some will offer singles. Make sure to register for an event that is appropriate for your skill level (e.g., 3.5, 4.0, etc).
For larger tournaments by USA Pickleball, the PPA, or the APP, you will need:
Pickleball Tournament Rules
Almost all pickleball tournaments will follow USA Pickleball’s Official Rulebook.
Although all tournaments follow the basic rules of pickleball, they can differ on:
- Type of scoring (sideout or rally scoring)
- Game length (11, 15 or 21)
- Type of Ball Used (usually Franklin or Dura Fast)
- Type of Draw (traditional win-and-advance draw is the most common but round robin draws are used for smaller events)
Since tournaments can vary in these key areas, it’s important to check the rules of any tournament you are going to play and use the info in your preparation!
How Do Pickleball Tournaments Work?
Most pickleball tournaments offer gender doubles, mixed doubles, and singles for all skill levels between 3.0 and 5.0. Tournaments can vary in their actual format, but most pickleball tournaments work as follows:
- Double elimination with a come around draw (meaning you can lose once but still medal or even win the tournament)
- Sideout scoring to 11 with each match being the best 2 out of 3 games
- Gold, silver, bronze medals awarded to the top 3 finishers
- Brackets are completed in a single day
FAQs: How to Play Pickleball Tournaments - 60 Second Guide
What Do You Need to Know Before Your First Pickleball Tournament?
Before playing your first pickleball tournament, you need to know the basic rules of pickleball as well as how to keep score. Tournament formats can vary so it’s also important to know the set-up (type of draw, balls used) and rules (sideout or rally scoring) of the tournament you are playing. And lastly, equipment, gear, and other necessities are important as some tournament venues won’t have access to everything you need.
For a full breakdown on playing tournaments, see our guide “How to Play Pickleball Tournaments” that covers finding tournaments, rating and fees, and pro tips on preparing for your tournament.
For quick tourney checklist, check out this “How to Pack for a Tourney” article and pdf checklist.
And for a guide on pickleball pro recommendations and tips for preparing for a tournament, we wrote the ebook “Tournament Pickleball Playbook: Pro Tips to Prepare and Win More Matches”.
What is the Format for Pickleball Tournaments?
Most tournaments use a double elimination bracket draw where if you win you keep advancing and if you lose you go into a consolation bracket. The winner of the consolation draw usually has a chance to play for gold or at least bronze. In most formats matches are 2 out of 3 games to 11 using side-out scoring and tournaments use the official rules of pickleball.
How Many Games Do You Play in a Pickleball Tournament?
Most tournament matches are 2 out of 3 games to 11 in the main draw, with 1 game to 15 in the consolation or back draw. In addition, in most tournaments you are guaranteed to play at least 2 matches, so you’re assured of playing 2-4 actual games.
Can Anyone Enter a Pickleball Tournament?
Yes - for the most part anyone can enter a pickleball tournament and spots in a tournament are usually on a first come first serve basis. Some tournaments may require a certain rating to enter a specific division so be sure to ask the tournament or read the tourney rules when signing up.