Shootouts and Ladder Play

Round Robins should be primarily viewed as social play with competitive overtones, where both Shootouts and Ladder Play are exactly the opposite. Hopefully we still get along no matter what form of organized play we involve ourselves in, but in Shootouts and Ladder Play the objective going in is to win. Here are the general characteristics of each:

1.  Shootouts

Basically a form of Round-Robin where people play different folks in a given set of games, shootouts are distinguished from Round-Robins in that there are typically (forms vary) two sets of three games. In the first set of three games each person plays with each of the other three against the remaining two players, one game each time. Scores are kept and totaled. Depending on the form of the shootout, either the top or the top two point-scorers go “Up” a court, where they play their next three games (again, one game with each person) against the next-highest rated players, while they other two go “Down” a court where they – you guessed it – play the next three games against the next-lowest-rated group of players, one game with each person.

End of the day, all points across six games are totaled. Games won are sometimes recorded and used as a data point as well. The scores are kept for all Shootout participants for some period of time – often fifteen or twenty “rolling” shootouts are factored together (the fifteen or twenty most current shootouts).

This is a rather complex system to administer for someone initially, but after awhile we’re told it gets to be second-nature and is not particularly time-consuming although someone does have to be on hand to administer it as last-minute changes are difficult to deal with.

(And, finally….an Easy Way to Organize and Run a Shootout!

A brand-new shootout spreadsheet has just been created for public consumption by the master of the spreadsheet himself, Steve Mueller. Steve has obviously put 100s of hours into making a weighted easy-to-use system available to us all, and for free! We have previewed it, love it, and recommend it highly. There are three documents which need to be downloaded. They are below. The first is the instruction booklet, 5 pages that will answer almost all of your questions. The second is the spreadsheet itself, which can be filled in and changed “right out of the box”. A couple of highlights about the system….it is weighted both for points and for wins on higher courts, but you can choose to “ignore” the weighting and rank based on total points if you wish. (We recommend you use the weighting…it’s explained fully in the instruction sheets.) The third document is a recording sheet provided so after the shootout is over, the captain of the shootout simply records scores (or they are recorded by participants as it goes, which is easier) and then enters the data on the spreadsheet at home. The calculations are then done for you to rank all the players and next week when you run the next session the work of ranking folks is done for you and you simply print off the sheets showing the rankings and go and play. You can have 150 players in the system and it tracks based on a rolling 20-weeks of games.

The system itself was developed using LibreOffice, which is an open platform and can run on Windows, Mac or Linus computers. Detailed instructions for use are part of the spreadsheet instructions, but we found it totally plug-and-play. We didn’t even read the instructions until after we had used it for awhile.

This is a free offering, the only caveats being that (a) it’s a Beta trial…we are the first site to be talking about it, so you’re hearing about it pretty early and there may be a bug or two, (case in point – note as of this update it’s already been revised three times), and (b) Steve asks for feedback about bugs and other issues…his email address is on all the documentation. This is absolutely a spectacular thing for any club wanting to run a shootout but not wanting to go through the rather tedious task of doing the work necessary to organize it every session. Check it out. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Thanks a million, Steve!

  1. Pickleball Shootout Spreadsheet Instructions
  2. The Pickleball Shootout Spreadsheet itself v. 4 (revised 11.26.2015)
  3. The Pickleball Shootout Recording Sheet (for Recording Scores)

Note that a video tutorial on this software system is also available.

NOTE: Address any problems to Steve Mueller directly, please.

There is also an interesting different software setup that runs shootouts. It’s called TrackItHub. We’ve previewed it and like it, although to be frank there are downsides…the software you want for the shootout is only available if you and  your group members sign up to be members of the site, which brings with it other advantages such as your ability to communicate with other like-minded picklers. But this means that the pricing model is per-person ($5 per month per person) and while it’s quite elegant it also requires a laptop on court or similar tablet with internet (or cellular data) access for real-time updating. We think over time the developers of this will see that club license fees or some more aggregate pricing scheme will make this more attractive and perhaps the shootout software itself can be separated from the rest of the “social networking” components of the site. We hope so, anyway. All in all we much prefer Steve Mueller’s no-charge and easy to use version, but your mileage may vary.

2.  Ladder Play

Although Ladder Play is sometimes identical to a shootout, there can be differences. The ladder essentially ranks the top players in a given skill group (or club) and allows them to set up matches in an organized way with all (or a good selection of) the other good players. Matches are set up and completed at the schedule of the participants and scores are reported back to a central source who tracks results and re-posts rankings regularly. To us, there is a difference between a shootouts and ladder play; a shootout is a group event, with people moving up and down within two sets of games on the same courts on the same day, and in comparison the ladder can sometimes be held when the competitors can arrange court time. Other people say they’re the same. You say potato, we say tomato…..

In the differing version, ladders are often set up as a “partner-play” kind of thing, thus ranking the partners in the club as opposed to the individuals. When we get some more good information to share on this we will, but we enjoy Ladder Play when we are in one place long enough. We intend to implement a form of Ladder Play in our Bend, Oregon club (The Bend Pickleball Club) this coming summer, in fact.



  • December 5, 2019

    I was not aware of TrackItHub! Thank you for passing that along, very helpful.

  • suzan hill
    June 15, 2018

    when organizing a shootout, how do you initially begin? do better players start on court one, or is it the luck of the draw to pair players?

  • July 25, 2017

    My name is Travis Kruse and I am the co-founder of TrackitHub. I appreciate the kind review of TrackitHub but I would like you to please update your information. The most important piece of information that needs updated is we do not charge $5.00 per person per year. In fact, we do not charge 1 cent for any player/club to use our program. It is 100% FREE! We also have many more features that we offer other than just Shootouts.

    TrackitHub is an automated program that specializes in administering pickleball clubs across the country and Canada. Our main focus is to assist pickleball clubs in running ladders, leagues, shootouts, round-robins, organizing their players, managing their club events, memberships, and club as a whole. Our program also makes it possible to run city-wide pickleball leagues if desired.

    One of our newly developed features is the Round-Robin and Flex Ladder software. This upgraded version (TrackitHub 2.0) allows for much more customization on the courts and accommodates various formats of play. Our next update will be the Membership Tracker. The Membership Tracker allows the club administrator to track renewals, expired memberships, and also can collect dues.

    It is not necessary to have a laptop or tablet at the courts. You can write in the scores on a scorecard and record them in TrackitHub after your event has taken place. However, we have launched our new TrackitHub App, so if you wish to access the program through your phone or tablet then that is a viable option as well. I hope this clears up some things.

    Questions?? Email me at:

    Thank You!

    • Us
      September 7, 2017

      Thanks for your response, Travis. It’s noted that this seems a good update to some of the considerations we had made earlier. Thanks for taking the time to write.

    • Bob Bringas
      December 17, 2019

      Hope you can help us find a program for our mixed double group, we’re an 55+ community that has a group of 12-14 teams that play each Monday. This is not a ladder league, just a group of recreational players.
      Currently my wife, has to spend several hours in manually working up the weeks schedule, when she prints it out it shows: which team is serving, which team is receiving and which team is seating out if we have more players than courts (we currently have 3-4 courts depending on availability). I was hoping you might have a program that would allow us to input the names and the program would work up the schedule for us.
      Looking toward you reply.

      • Us
        January 4, 2020

        Bob, please check the new post from Jeff Pepper under this post. He’s developed a Google sheet for RR play for 8-18 players and for 3-4 courts. Sounds like ti might be off assistance although it won’t remove all the issues you’re having.

      • January 6, 2020

        Hi Bob,

        I would be happy to give you a demo of the program. Please contact TrackitHub at and we will assist you in scheduling your webinar.

  • July 8, 2016

    Thanks again Steve for your wonderful effort. I’m in the process of putting together a fundraiser/shootout in a number of local venues, followed by regional and a final. Somewhat ambitious I know but I’m going to give it a whirl. If I advance two players out of four or five, I may need a tie breaker that doesn’t take up too much time. I’m thinking of a sudden death where the players have to hit the ball from the baseline into the NVZ.

    Anyway my question.. will your 5 person shootout have players play with each other player and against each other player an equal amount of times?


    Peter Sullivan

  • Barry Silverman
    May 16, 2015

    Great work Steve. Thanks so much for this.

  • April 5, 2015

    Way to go Steve. Hopefully, we’ll be using this in the shootouts next season at Palm Creek.

  • April 5, 2015

    Thank you for offering this to the ambassadors of USAPA. We have three courts in one of our venues and are introducing the first hour of our time for anyone to play anyone of their choice and the second hour will be divided into three levels of play. While I will let them self rate at the beginning, I will introduce your strategy for basing it on actual performance.

    Peter Sullivan
    Boston Metro

    • Us
      April 5, 2015

      Hi, Peter. Thanks for your comment. I think you are right but have a suggestion. You might consider just introducing the ratings skill-sheets now (see Club Programs, ratings) and let them get used to what specific skills are required to actually be at each skill level. I’d continue with the self-rating for awhile longer as well. Let the group settle into what a 3.5 has to do to differentiate from a 3.0 and so on before you move to the shootout format.

  • April 4, 2015

    This is really helpful. Thank you so very much for doing all this work. David Block

  • Jim Ludwig
    April 4, 2015

    Looking forward to trying this program out. We have 125 players everyday that want to be ranked.

    • Jim Ludwig
      April 4, 2015

      Check time zone for comments posted. My post was at 5:52 EST.

      • Us
        April 5, 2015

        Jim, see how Time Zones appear to you now. Am checking on your other issue regarding posting multiple comments…no answer yet but am continuing to look. Thanks for your feedback!

      • Jim Ludwig
        April 5, 2015

        Thank you

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