USA Pickleball Announces Pickleball Desk as their Official Referee and Volunteer Management Platform

By Terry Brown, 2019 USA Pickleball Nationals Referee Coordinator and Certified Referee and Shonda Davidson, Pickleball Desk Developer

How many remember attending a pickleball tournament where everything was done with paper and pencil? If you do, chances are it was a very small tournament. With the meteoric rise of pickleball with now having almost 3.5 million players across the U.S., and the insuppressible demand for structured competition, it is impossible to conduct a modern tournament without the use of computers and the programs available for them.

Until very recently, managing referees, line judges and the groups of volunteers needed to run a successful tournament, was primarily done with paper and pencil. Standard tools available on computers, like spreadsheets, were often employed too. Now there is one tool, designed specially for the needs of pickleball tournaments that allows for easy coordination of hundreds of people.

It was following the 2019 USAPA Nationals, at Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Palm Desert, California, utilizing forty-nine courts and the need for up to fifty-five referees for a single time shift was the catalyst and inspiration for the next generation of referee coordination. was designed by Shonda Davidson after consulting with many certified referees starting at the 2019 Tournament of Champions in Brigham City, Utah to provide solutions to all the challenges presented at Nationals and other similar large tournaments.

“As a tournament director and event desk manager, I recognize the importance of organizing people and using all tools possible to save time. Pickleball Desk does all that,” said Dee Davidson, Pickleball Dee LLC. “The ability for the referee to communicate with the referee coordinator without leaving the court via the Pickleball Desk app on their phone  to request a second call for players to report to the court, or issue a direct request to the medical staff in the event of an emergency, are just a few examples.”

Pickleball Desk App Highlights:

  • Seamless sign-up opportunities for referee coordinators to send a request for tournament volunteers directly through the app. Referees are then easily able to register for an account or login and see a list of all tournaments seeking referees across the country.
  • Each tournament will list referee details including compensation and other details.
  • Option to list all necessary time slots where referees are needed, including showing which time slots are already reserved. Option for referees to easily cancel their timeslot if needed.
  • Opportunity to include a tournament waitlist for referees to have additional volunteers on deck.
  • Pickleball Desk provides the opportunity for traveling referees to easily search for tournaments in the area and date they’re traveling.
  • Capabilities for referees to easily check-in on the app when they arrive to the tournament and be assigned to a specific court.
  • While waiting for the next match, referees can see their position in the queue either in the app or on-site monitors.
  • Easily manage personal referee schedules, allow other referees to see each other’s schedule, send a note to other refs if a break is needed, and if it will be their last match and check themselves out of the queue.

Pickleball Desk provides tools to the referee coordinator to make each tournament as seamless as possible, creating a fun and successful experience for the staff and players. The primary functions of assigning and removing referees to/from courts can be done from the comfort of a chair as opposed to standing for endless hours during the day.

Since launching the app in 2019 many referee coordinators are already raving about how it has streamlined tournaments:

“I don’t usually make such claims, but Pickleball Desk has absolutely revolutionized referee and volunteer management.  Any tournament director not using Pickleball Desk for referee and volunteer management is missing the grand benefits of a streamlined and efficiency-enhancing process.”  Mark Peifer, USA Pickleball Director of Officiating

“Having the whole package together makes it work seamlessly through all phases of the tournament.  From the planning stages all the way through to following up with your volunteers and referees after the event was completed.”  – Randi Levenbaum, Refereee Coordinator.

Most of the same functionality in the tool is also available for line judge, court monitors and volunteer coordination.  Features are still being added so keep a look out for other exciting things to come.

In the months ahead, USA Pickleball and Pickleball Desk will be working together to help grow the referee pool and assist referees with certification and re-certification reports.

“We are thrilled to have Pickleball Desk to ensure USA Pickleball is utilizing the latest technology to help streamline the referee assignments, efficiently keep track of all matches and provide a great tournament experience for our members as we continue to grow as an organization,” said George Bauernfeind, Managing Director of Marketing and Communications for USA Pickleball.

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