The USA Pickleball National Championships is the premier professional and amateur tournament in the sport of pickleball. Established in 2009, the National Championships has evolved into the first and only pickleball tournament in which players must qualify to participate. The 2022 National Championships hosted 5,522 fans at its peak, the largest-ever pickleball attendance in history.

To be eligible to participate in the 2023 National Championships, you must have played in a qualifier tournament. This year there are 12 qualifier—or Golden Ticket—tournaments being held across the United States. Five of these Golden Ticket tournaments are broadcast and branded as USA Pickleball’s National Championships Series (NCS). In addition to offering Golden Tickets, the NCS events are designed to bring marketing and awareness to the USA Pickleball National Championships.

1). What is a USA Pickleball Golden Ticket?

A Golden Ticket is a player’s pre-registration opportunity to play in the USA Pickleball National Championships. Golden Tickets are only offered within the 12 qualifier events.

2. Which Tournaments offer a USA Pickleball ‘Golden Ticket’ for the 2023 USA Pickleball National Championships?

3. How do I earn a Golden Ticket?

Please see below for the following three scenarios of how a player can earn a Golden Ticket:

Example #1:

A player enters a qualifying "Golden Ticket" event and wins a gold medal in their skill/age bracket. As a gold medal winner, the player receives a Golden Ticket to the National Championships.

Example #2:

In a qualifying event, a 35+ bracket has less than four teams in their bracket and therefore must be combined with a 19+ bracket. In that combined bracket, the winners of both the 19+, as well as 35+ age groups, will each win a gold medal and a Golden Ticket to the National Championships. Hypothetically, in this scenario, the 35+ group has Teams A, B, and C. The 19+ group has teams D, E, F, G, and H. The brackets are combined. Team F wins their bracket, a gold medal & a Golden Ticket. Furthermore, team "F" won the overall combined bracket. (The overall winner of the combined bracket is irrelevant because in order to be the overall winner, you must have won your individual bracket in the first place so you have already received a Golden Ticket for that win). The highest-finishing team within the 35+ bracket also wins a gold medal and a Golden Ticket.

The winner of the 19+ & the 35+ brackets would be based on which person/team advanced the furthest within the bracket. If the top two players/teams left within the same age bracket (19+ & 35+} end up being eliminated from the tournament at the same time/position within the bracket (tied for fifth), then the finishing position medals would be determined by a tie-breaker system:

Tie-breaker #1. Who beat who if they played each other in the winner’s bracket (they couldn't have played in the consolation bracket and end up tied because one of the teams would have been eliminated while the winner of the match would have moved on, thus finishing higher).

Tie-breaker #2. If the players/teams within the same age bracket never played each other but were eliminated from the tournament in the exact same finishing position, then the medals are determined by a point differential tie-breaker system.

Example #3:

In a qualifying event, a 75+ bracket and a 70+ bracket must be combined with a 65+ bracket. The winner of the 65+ bracket will earn a gold medal and a Golden Ticket to the National Championships. In addition, all 70+ and 75+ teams will receive a Golden Ticket to the National Championships (this is due to the fact that all 70+ and greater aged teams that participated in a qualifying event automatically receive a Golden Ticket).

4. How does a player become eligible to enter the lottery for the USA Pickleball National Championships?

All players who participate in a 2023 National Championship qualifier event (listed above) or one of the 12 Diamond Amateur Regional tournaments are eligible for the 2023 National Championships registration lottery.

5. What is the timeframe for offering this qualification change for 2023?

Since this change is for the 2023 National Championships, this would include players for all qualifying events (starting with the 2022 APP Houston Open in October).

6. It's been said that players in the 70+, 75+, and 80+ brackets now have easier ways to qualify for the USA Pickleball National Championships. Can you please provide additional details?

We have greatly expanded the opportunities for players in the 70+, 75+, and 80+ age brackets to obtain early registration to the USA Pickleball National Championships this year. Players in these age brackets have a different qualification path than all other age brackets. All they have to do in order to qualify for the USA Pickleball National Championships is play in one of the Golden Ticket tournaments listed below.

Example #1: I play in one of the qualifying tournaments listed in the link above, but my bracket gets combined. Do I need to medal in my combined bracket to get early registration to the USA Pickleball National Championships? 

A. No. All you need to do is play in the tournament. If you play in the 70+, 75+ or 80+ age brackets in any of the Golden Ticket tournaments listed above in the link, you will get early registration for the USA Pickleball National Championships.

Example #2: If I get early registration for Nationals by satisfying the requirements in Example #1, does my partner also have to play in one of the Golden Ticket tournaments?

A. No. Your partner can be any player that meets the age and skill requirements of the bracket (just like you do) and they must have played in either a Golden Ticket tournament (see list above) or in one of the Diamond Regional Tournaments, which can be found here.

Example #3: If I am 70+, 75+ or 80+ and I play in one of the Golden Ticket tournaments listed above, does this mean I automatically get a Golden Ticket for the 2023 USA Pickleball National Championships?

A. Yes.

Example #4: If I play in one of the Diamond Regional tournaments in the 70+, 75+, or 80+ brackets, does that get me early registration for the USA Pickleball National Championships?

A. No. However, it does qualify you to register for the USA Pickleball National Championships lottery. You are also now qualified to play in the USA Pickleball National Championships with any Golden Ticket winner who elects to partner with you in your age/skill bracket. Furthermore, you are qualified for an early registration into the Diamond Amateur Championships at Pictona in 2023.