How to Organize and Run Your Pickleball Tournaments

There are different levels of pickleball tournaments and the larger they are, the more complex they become. This link takes you to the USAPA’s guide to running a tournament and this guide has advantages. For a small tournament it’ll get you thinking the right way. It’s reasonably short and is pretty simply written, too, which are both good things. If this is your first tournament we recommend you read this version first.

However, once your pickleball tournaments grows a bit a lot more issues can come into focus (or can cause you to lose focus, you decide!). Below, you’ll find introduction to (and, later, the whole of a much extensive tournament guide, which may help you organize and run your tournament. The guide is written specifically for the 2 tournaments that are put on each year by the Palm Creek Pickleball Club at Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort in Casa Grande, AZ. The two pickleball tournaments are the Annual Residents’ Tournament, a non-sanctioned event open only to the residents of Palm Creek, and The Duel in The Desert, as of this writing the largest single-venue Tier Two pickleball tournament run by one club. Although we also recommend the USAPA’s stuff linked above for a first tournament, some of the information below could assist you as a tournament director in running your own pickleball tournament if you are doing it for the first time.

This guide was compiled by Bob VanderLinden, Palm Creek Pickleball Club Tournament Director, with help from each of the team leads on the various tournament sub-committees. NOTE!!! While the remainder of this page is only a SUMMARY of the introduction, the entire document can be downloaded here. It’s an extensive document, no question, but it’s well-organized and indexed, and we thank Bob VanderLinden BIG TIME for having shared this with us – and we thank Palm Creek for allowing him to do so, as well.

Summary of the Introduction. (See this for the whole document and we’d recommend you at least read the whole summary unabridged if you are wondering if running a bigger tournament is for you!)

Running a tournament is a lot of work, but it can be challenging, fun and you meet a lot of new friends from around North America. If you take time to plan and organize it will turn out fine.

Start Planning Early for pickleball tournaments

This cannot be emphasized enough. Early and thorough planning reduces the “emergencies” you will face during pickleball tournaments play days when time is critical. A tournament is a significant event and the last thing you want to do is have a significant SNAFU. You can expect to have many smaller issues, but want to reduce the number that involves your players and spectators. There are quite a few decisions you need to make as early as possible. The tasks will vary significantly based on community facilities, community events, club participation, liability insurance, food service, parking and many other factors.

Coordinate With Your Club

Get buyoff from your club or pickleball group. You will need a lot of help so make sure you have some people you can depend on to help with planning and execution. I have found that there are many people that are willing to volunteer for tasks (just tell me when to show up and what to do), but far fewer that want to do the planning work.

Gather A Good Team

It is a huge task for a single individual, so if you can get a Tournament Committee together to help with planning and coordination you will be way ahead. In addition, I would recommend that you have you have Task Team Leads for the major tasks associated with the pickleball tournaments.

Coordinate With Your Community  

Coordinate use of community facilities early to avoid conflicts. Your community may have other activities going on that make running a tournament more difficult.

Set Pickleball Tournament Dates 

Pickleball tournaments are getting very popular and if you want a good turnout you need to schedule your tournament in an open slot in your area. Players are starting to schedule their tournament play well in advance. Please be considerate of other tournaments and don’t schedule one over the top of an existing tournament. Check and to find out what tournaments are being run in your area. Go back a year or 2 to be sure that you catch tournaments that just haven’t been listed yet for the year. Tournament Directors will be glad to talk with you, so if you are close to another tournament, call and check it out. Submit your tournament to both (cost for listing and for using software) and (free). Get your slot as early as you can to prevent conflicts.

Pickleball Tournament Software 

Pickleball tournaments software for registration and brackets is essential. Our club uses software although USAPA also has software that can be used. There is a charge for but they provide support for setting up, registration, brackets and running the tournament using their software. As an aside, they will also run the tournament for you for a fee. Both usually ask for a registration form that shows tournament dates, brackets, costs and schedule to help with setup and listing. provides online registration, payment, bracket development and desk operations.

Online Desk Operations 

Determine if you will be using the online Desk Operations. There is a learning curve associated with this and would recommend attending a tournament where it is being used and getting experience before trying. If you have not used this before I would not try it at your first tournament.

Volunteer at a pickleball tournaments to get experience 

Finding a tournament or 2 and volunteering to train and assist is a good way to learn before your own tournament. They will appreciate the help and you will get a lot of invaluable training.

Desk Brackets 

If you are not using the PBT tournament software, you will need to have “desk brackets” in addition to the Bracket Board brackets. These are your master copies and help you run the tournament and keep matches moving. When using the PBT software, you may be able to get by without the desk brackets but it requires monitoring the brackets closely to ensure you are on track with all matches. This requires a little more skillful operator.

Set Dates/Fees/Events/Brackets 

Establish dates, fees and events you will be playing. Refer to USAPA sanctioning guidelines to ensure you are in compliance. You do have a broad latitude of what you offer. You will also want to identify the days and times of the different events.

Develop Registration Form and Flyer 

You can download a pickleball tournament’s registration form to use as a guide. The flyer is important to market your tournament. You can send it to tournament directors and ask them to put it out or have it available. Again, you can use an existing flyer as a guide.

USAPA Sanctioning 

You do not have to sanction your tournament through but if you do tournament players will get tournament points based on the sanctioning level and USAPA will provide supplemental insurance. Since January 1, 2016 all players in sanctioned tournaments have had to be USAPA Members. (Sanctioning fees are reasonable.) There are some sanctioning requirements that are communicated with the sanctioning letter. (Reporting results within 1 week, Referees for all matches, use IFP regs, Sell USAPA Memberships, etc.)

Player/Spectator Consideration 

Make sure your tournament is fun and memorable and players will return and be your best advocates. Do things that make both the player and spectator experience enjoyable.

Tournament Items to Consider

– Court location
– Indoor/outdoor
– Brackets: Age, skill, etc
– Type of balls
– Food service
– Water/sports drink
– Sponsors and vendors
– Player snacks
– Social
– Player gifts such as T-shorts, inexpensive backpacks, etc
– Parking
– Tents (easy-up style), chairs, tables
– Signage
– Players bring camp chairs
– Morning Refreshments: Coffee, Danish 7:30-10 AM

The entire document can be downloaded here.


  • September 27, 2019

    If you are looking for good pickleball software, please check out Global Pickleball Network.

    Here is an example of a round robin pickleball tournament:

    Here is a single elimination pickleball tournament example:

    The software is completely free. 🙂


    • Us
      November 14, 2019

      Hey, Trevor. Do you see the relatively new posts here where folks are asking for a trial? If the software is free anyway, maybe no trial is necessary and just going for the downloads will be all they need to do? Maybe you could repost something on the ins and outs.

  • March 29, 2019

    I notice a lot of tournaments advertise a particular ball. Are the ball mfgrs supplying the ball in this case?. How many balls are needed during an outdoor tournament? Specifically is one new ball used per each game? I just read an article on how to run a tournament. It referenced a pickleBall canister that holds 6 to 8 balls. This is located on or near the net. I can not find this item anywhere. Can you tell me where I can find this ball canister? Or what do you recommend for holding new and used balls at each court?

    Thank you

    M Ruddell

    • Us
      April 11, 2019

      Sorry for the delay getting baxk, To your points, yes, sometimes ball manufacturers are supplying the balls. Sometimes not. You may want to inquire directly of the manufacturers. I remember one 700+ person tournament where we had 100 dozen balls on hand. I think that was excessive but it’s necessary to have more rather than less, and they don’t go bad. Storage is the only issue in over-buying, I think. Sometimes you can get a much better price buying in quantity (like anything, right?). Yeah, canisters that hold 6-8 balls or more are common and often are home built from PVC pipe. I would also check for alternatives. One inexpensive alternative is to buy little plastic buckets (dollar store, sometimes) and attach them to the fence with carabiners. Advantage to that is all balls can easily be moved into your shed/storage area at night. We’ve actually had ALL balls left on the court in the canisters stolen….representing literally dozens of balls. This solution isn’t exactly elegant of course. (The word “tacky” comes to mind but we can be judgmental…LOL!) No, one new ball is not used each game. We wait until they are broken or go out-of-round. If your play will begin early in the AM you may find you break more balls. We’ve had dedicated volunteers who took the balls inside at night, and one who actually put them in a bucket of warm water, which was much appreciated. Tournaments advertise particular balls if they are sponsors or (occasionally) simply to let players know what ball is being used as every ball has different characteristics. Remember Animal Farm….all animals are created equal “but some are more equal than others.” As to balls, we say our two cents but admit that your mileage may vary.

  • Paul Aaron
    October 8, 2017

    We are just starting the process of a new tournament and are looking for all the direction we can find. I would like to get the Palm Creek document but the link returns a 404 error. Is there any way I can get access to the entire document?

    • October 9, 2017

      Hi Paul, check the link now. I am reconnecting a lot of the documents due to a Dropbox issue. Thanks for your patience!


  • Mari Bott
    October 17, 2016

    This looks really complicated. I’m wondering if you might suggest who to contact to try to organize or sponsor a tournament for a cause. Any suggestions? I’m from St. George Utah and pickleball is huge here.

    • Us
      December 6, 2016

      Yeah, it is giant in St. George. There are several folks who already run fund raising tournaments there now, right? Maybe go to the administration of your new public court complex and ask them for a couple of names? Let us know how it goes. Sorry for the delay, by the way. Major site problems. And, yes, the first time through a tournament is a little complex, but not so bad, really. Just take things slow and set your expectations low for the first year.

    • Kathy Rambousek
      September 4, 2017

      Mike Hoxie with PIG (Pickleball is Great) does a fabulous job at running tournaments. Check out his site at

  • Verlin Chalmers
    July 15, 2016

    How does one figure out how many teams and categories can be offered in a tournament you want to have.
    Is there a formula like X no of courts and N number of days (assuming Y number of hours of play a day – that can say how many teams and brackets catagoriea you can accommodate?
    If you have 4 courts – or 6 courts or 8 courts / how many teams and brackets can you offer.


    • Us
      August 17, 2016

      We will look for a better answer, but recently we held our larger tournament here in Bend. Over 3 days with 350 players in skill and including singles, we got all matches done by 7 or 8 PM. Those are long days.

  • April 13, 2015

    Thank you! This is great stuff. Under “Community”, you might want to include the local Chamber of Commerce and the local hospital (especially in a smaller town). Up here in Hiawassee, Georgia, each has been helpful in their own way. David Block

Leave a CommentYour email address will not be published

Receive Our Updates

Disclaimers, Copyrights, and Such

This site is a portal to our own content as well as to materials developed by other folks. Our own content is copyrighted by and its owners, and is free for you to use for non-commercial purposes only. We assume no responsibility or liability for your use of any content; use it at your own discretion and risk. Go here for further info!
A. J. Fraties
Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.

Skip to toolbar