USA Pickleball Sanctioning
Sanctioning is the process through which USA Pickleball grants qualifying tournaments the Sanctioned designation. A Tournament Director who applies and receives sanctioning agrees to meet and abide by all the sanctioning requirements, therefore the TD and the players who participate in a sanctioned event are eligible to receive the benefits associated with sanctioning.
USA Pickleball offers 2 sanctioning options: Standard and Medal Match Plus (MMP). Both options require TDs to abide by all sanctioning requirements with this modification: standard sanctioning requires all matches to be refereed, and MMP sanctioning allows a modified referee requirement.
What is Medal-Match Plus (MMP) Sanctioning?
The MMP option allows USA Pickleball sanctioning for both new and previously sanctioned tournaments. Any Tournament Director (TD) who applies for MMP sanctioning and is approved must meet the MMP referee requirements detailed below.
All MMP National Qualifiers must meet the following criteria:
- TD must provide a list of referee training sessions that have taken place prior to their MMP sanctioned tournament and prior to their next tournament if it is also an MMP sanctioned tournament.
- The tournament must include referees for all winner bracket matches at the 4.0 level and above as well as the other matches outlined in the MMP requirements.
- After the second MMP sanctioned year, the TD must apply for full sanctioning to be considered a USA Pickleball National Qualifier.
MMP Referee Requirements for ALL MMP tournaments (both National Qualifiers AND non-qualifiers):
- Medal matches in a single or double elimination bracket.
- Plus, the 2 matches leading up to the medal matches. In the single or double elimination format, it is the final match in the winner’s bracket and the match leading up to the bronze medal match in the consolation bracket.
- If a USA Pickleball trained referee (Trainee, Level 1 or Level 2 referees) requests to referee a match(es), the TD or Referee Coordinator will ask players if they want a referee for their match. If all four players agree to having a referee and one is available, the referee will be granted the opportunity to referee those matches without pay. This will be applicable for the earlier round matches which are not required to be refereed.
- The TD must list the referee’s name for each required match. Please contact info@
pickleballtournaments.com if needing assistance to provide this referee information.
- Tournament Directors must provide an opportunity for referee training before and during (e.g. shadowing) the event. USA Pickleball recommends a referee training class conducted by a certified referee or registered trainer prior to the event with an option of referee shadowing during the event.
All USA Pickleball Regionals must adhere to full sanctioning rules.
Sanctioning Benefits to Tournament Directors
By agreeing to abide by the sanctioning requirements, Tournament Directors receive the following benefits:
- General event liability insurance (pdf)
- Use of the sanctioned logo in all event media
- Secondary accident insurance for USA Pickleball members
- Free listing and flyer attachment on the USA Pickleball tournament calendar
- IFP rules apply, approved playing formats and matches officiated by referees
- referee designated matches - MMP
- referee all matches - Standard
- Discounted fees when using pickleballtournaments.com
- Support from USA Pickleball Tournament Sanctioning Staff
- Increased participation. Players prefer events run in accordance with all USA Pickleball rules
- Public acknowledgement that your local organization supports USA Pickleball - governing body of pickleball
Sanctioning Benefits to Players
Players receive the following benefits at no additional cost:
- Secondary Accident Insurance (USA Pickleball Members)
- All matches referee officiated - Standard
- Designated matches officiated - MMP
- Tournament results are used to calculate USAPA Tournament Player Ratings (UTPR)
- 100% weight factor - Standard
- 80 % weight factor - MMP
- Standardized and Approved IFP Rules and playing formats will be used
- Accurate bracketing and seeding using the official USA Pickleball ratings makes for a more competitive and fun tournament for all participants
For a tournament to be granted sanctioning, the Tournament Director must follow the application process and abide by all sanctioning requirements.
- Submit Application
- Submit Sanction Fee
- Submit TD checklist
- Declare and use a USA Pickleball approved tournament ball
- Use pickleballtournaments.com software (automatic USA Pickleball member verification and data linked for ratings)
- Follow all USA Pickleball/IFP rules
- Submit Results Report
THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS MUST BE MET AND CONFIRMED BY USA PICKLEBALL IN ORDER FOR USA PICKLEBALL TO CONSIDER THE TOURNAMENT ELIGIBLE FOR SANCTIONING:
1.The Tournament Director has consulted with local government officials and has been advised accordingly that this tournament may be held so long as all applicable government requirements have been satisfied and are maintained throughout the duration of the tournament. A copy of all such local and state government requirements for this event must be emailed to USA Pickleball: email@example.com.
2.The Tournament Director must sign and return the attached CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE that confirms the tournament meets all government requirements and protocols will be implemented and enforced by the tournament organizers and facility management for the duration of the tournament. This document must also be emailed to USA Pickleball: admin@usapickleballorg.
3.The updated USA Pickleball participant waiver (with the COVID-19 language) must be signed by all players prior to check-in. Tournament Directors will be given a copy of the waiver in advance.
All players must sign the new USA Pickleball waiver (2020 version) prior to check-in.
- Please do not open your registration prior to receiving your approval for sanctioning
- Upon receipt of your approval please use the COVID-19 waiver that is provided
- Please ensure that all players sign the COVID-19 waiver prior to check-in (click here for waiver)
The Tournament Director or sponsoring club must complete and submit a USA Pickleball Tournament Sanctioning Application at least 30 days prior to the registration opening date. The USA Pickleball Tournament Coordinator is responsible for approving or denying all sanctioning requests.
Do NOT open tournament registration until the tournament status has been updated from 'pending' to 'sanctioned'
Items required before tournament is updated from 'pending' to 'sanctioned'
- submit sanction fee
- declare tournament ball
- submit Tournament Director Checklist
- provide documentation in #s 1 & 2 outlined above
USA Pickleball Sanction Application - Standard Sanctioning
USA Pickleball Sanction Application - MMP Sanctioning
Payment of Sanction Fee
After the sanctioning request has been approved by the USA Pickleball Tournament Coordinator and the Sanction Fee has been paid, the Tournament Director may advertise that they are sanctioned by USA Pickleball. After receiving payment of the sanction fee, USA Pickleball will advertise the tournament on the USA Pickleball calendar and will and display the sanctioning logo. The “USA Pickleball Sanctioned Event” logo will be supplied via email to the tournament director and may be used in all tournament media.
Tournament Director Checklist
The Tournament Director must agree to complete and submit the Tournament Director Checklist.
Tournament Management Software
Tournament directors must use the pickleballtournaments.com tournament software management system because of ratings automation and the data links between USA Pickleball and pickleballtournaments.com.
USA Pickleball Membership
Beginning January 1, 2016 a player in any/all USA Pickleball sanctioned pickleball tournaments will be required to be a current member of USA Pickleball before playing any match in the tournament.
Before a tournament is USA Pickleball sanctioned, the tournament director must declare the make and model of the ball that will be used. The ball must be listed on the IFP/USA Pickleball list of Approved Balls. Until the approved ball is declared, the sanctioning status will remain as 'USA Pickleball Pending'.
The tournament director must follow all USA Pickleball/IFP Official Tournament Rules.
Within one week of the end of a tournament, completed results must be reported to the Tournament Results Chair . USA Pickleball member numbers and expiration dates must be included to ensure accurate identification.
For Junior competitive divisions please use the following approved format
- Three age divisions: 12U, 14U, 18U
- Round Robin Non-Elimination Draws
*Juniors may play up in the junior age divisions or participate in the 19+ only adult division
NOTE: They may not enter into any other older age events, however, if brackets have to be combined:
- The 19+ bracket can only be combined with a 35+ bracket if there is a junior team in the 19+ bracket
- If there are not enough teams in the 19+ and 35+ bracket the junior team would need to play up in skill to the next 19+ bracket. i.e. 3.0 19+ to 3.5 19+
- In the event that there is one player who is a junior and one who is not, they can play in the 19+ bracket and the next age bracket that needs to be combined. i.e. Team A 14yrs old & 54yrs old / Teams B, C and D, 52yrs old and 52yrs old combine the brackets 19+ and 50+. You have one player who is eligible to play in the 50+ bracket, but is playing down in the 19+ bracket with a younger player which allows them to play 19+.
- If there is a juniors team playing in the 19+ age group then 50+ and up age brackets cannot be combined down to play with the 19+ bracket.
- Juniors may not play in both junior and adult divisions in the same tournament.
**Juniors Tournaments will not utilize a system of player ratings for category/skill differentiation.
***Players that participate in a junior division will NOT receive UTPR credit.
Click here for recommendations and rationale for youth participation and tournament play.
Tournament Director Responsibilities
It is the responsibility of the Tournament Director to be certain that players are competing in the correct events based on age or rating. For a list of Approved Events Click here. Allowing ineligible players to compete in a bracket impacts the sanctioning. Questions about combining brackets can be addressed to: USA Pickleball Tournament Coordinator. If any players join or renew USA Pickleball membership at the tournament, please let us know. A player’s age in a sanctioned tournament will be determined by the player’s age on December 31. An exception will be made if a state senior games organization mandates a different date in their tournament.
The ratings for many USA Pickleball members are in the USA Pickleball rating system and can be viewed on the USA Pickleball Ratings page. This is most important for skill-level tournaments. Ratings are also important for seeding players within events. If a player is not rated they can self-rate. When members do not request to "pre-set" their 4-digit UTPR with their determined self-rating, their initial 4-digit rating becomes the average of the players playing in their first event bracket, hence a higher than expected UTPR can be generated. For assistance on presetting your rating please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
USA Pickleball Membership Forms
Arrange for a USA Pickleball Ambassador to be available during the duration of the event to promote the sport, answer questions regarding membership for players who wish to join USA Pickleball or renew their memberships and field any other questions from players and/or spectators. New memberships and membership renewals along with their checks must be sent to: USAPA, PO Box 7354, Surprise, AZ 85374.
Designing Tournament Entry Forms
Be sure to include spaces for player member number, membership expiration date, name, address, email, skill level, age, phone#, emergency contact and any other pertinent information.
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION
USA Pickleball sanctioned tournaments are insured by a General Liability Policy and Participant Accident Policy. The general liability insurance provided with USA Pickleball sanctioning is in effect when the Tournament Director requests a certificate for proof of insurance (Click here). The certificate should be requested at least 30 days before the start of the tournament. A certificate will only be issued upon request and after receipt of the sanction fee.
USA Pickleball sanctioned tournaments that wish to offer non-sanctioned events, such as demonstrations, clinics, and co-occurring tournaments, should, if possible, offer these events on days either before or after the dates set for sanctioned tournament play.
If holding these events before or after the tournament play dates is not possible, all non-sanctioned events must be disclosed in the application process and approved by USA Pickleball before they can be publicized and held.
If the tournament director or organizer receives approval by USA Pickleball to conduct a non-sanctioned event with its sanctioned tournament, the director or organizer agrees and acknowledges that:
- The event is not covered under any USA Pickleball-issued certificate of insurance unless the certificate explicitly states that it is covered;
- Players participating in the non-sanctioned event are not covered by any USAPA insurance policy unless the certificate explicitly states that they are covered;
- USA Pickleball player ratings will not be awarded; and
- The tournament director or organizer will communicate the above three conditions to the event participants in the disclosure materials and application forms (electronic or otherwise) furnished to them.
At the discretion of USA Pickleball, tournament directors and organizers who attempt to circumvent the sanctioning process in any way or who offer contemporaneous unapproved events with a USA Pickleball sanctioned tournament will not receive sanctioning approval or will have their sanctioning revoked.
In accordance with the requirements of the American with Disabilities Act, USA Pickleball will not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in its services, programs or activities. Rules for wheelchair players are in the IFP Rulebook or you can click here to view them.
Entries are defined as one doubles team or one singles player. The tournament shall be open to all players who meet the general requirements of any tournament, such as age or skill level. Entries may be limited by geographical locations such as city, county, regional, or state residency. Draw sizes in events may be limited because of court availability, but must take entrants in the order they are received.
USA Pickleball Right of Refusal
USA Pickleball reserves the right to refuse to sanction tournaments, list tournaments on the USA Pickleball website/calendar, or accept advertising where a tournament director has:
- Not complied with USA Pickleball policies or rules
- Disparaged USA Pickleball
- Created deceptive or confusing forms, advertising or promotional materials wrongly implying or stating USA Pickleball involvement in the tournament or making other factual misstatements that could mislead players on significant matters. This includes duplicating major USA Pickleball tournament names, with terms such as “National”, “Regional”, etc. where USA Pickleball deems the term is in direct conflict with an existing USA Pickleball event.