Purpose of this Guide:
This tournament director guide is intended as a tool to assist tournament directors in the planning of a USA Pickleball sanctioned tournament and can be used for the planning of a non sanctioned tournament as well. It provides an easy to follow step by step checklist. Your experienced USA Pickleball staff is available to answer any questions you may have along the way. Let's start planning!

1.  Appoint a Tournament Director and/or Co-tournament Directors

  • Read the USA Pickleball Sanctioning Requirements
  • Choose an approved format and events (WD, MXD, Singles, Age, Skill, etc.)
  • Set a tournament date
  • Decide on the number of participants in each event (set parameters)
  • Set opening/closing due dates for registration. USA Pickleball suggests opening registration no more than 90 days prior to the event.
  • Decide on registration fees and refund policy

2.  Choose a Venue

  • Number of courts will be a deciding factor on how many players and/or events the tournament can accommodate.
  • Permanent nets preferred but not limited to, most larger or indoor tournaments use temporary courts/nets
  • Check for Wi-Fi availability and electrical outlets
  • PA/Sound system
  • Lights
  • Room for and availability of vendor/sponsor spaces/tables
  • Restrooms
  • Check with the venue regarding need of approved food vendors if any.

3.  Create a Budget

  • Decide on compensation if any for referees and/or referee management team
  • Factor cost related to the use of tournament management software See pickleballtournaments.com fee schedule
  • Court rental
  • Medals and/or rewards
  • Food, water
  • Supplies (tape, scissors, paper, pencils, etc...)
  • Prize money (if any)
  • Goodie bags, T-shirts (if any)
  • Wristbands for first servers
  • Order portable nets if needed (USA Pickleball Store)

4.  Sanction the Tournament

5.  Create a Flyer with Complete Tournament Info

(following are some but not all items to be listed)

  • Tournament title
  • Registration and Entry Event fees
  • Format USA Pickleball Approved Events
  • Date(s) and times of tournament
  • Website where and how to register
  • Type of Approved Ball you will be using
  • Contact information for questions regarding registrations and tournament info
  • Location of and directions to venue
  • Sanctioning Logo (will be emailed to you after sanctioning approval and fee has been paid)
  • Rain day plan

6.  Posting on Websites

  • After sanctioning has been approved USA Pickleball will advertise and list tournament info (and flyer) on the USA Pickleball Tournament Calendar
  • Registration information
  • Contact information
  • Players needing partners
  • Players list
  • Events
  • Directions
  • Lodging/Accommodations information
  • Cancellation policy
  • Rules/format of play
  • Any other info pertaining to your tournament
  • Waiver (USA Pickleball Waiver example)

7.  Solicit Volunteers

  • Recruit volunteers from your local clubs. You will need an average of 5-6 volunteers/day. Not including referees! USA Pickleball standard-sanctioned tournaments require referees for every match.

Volunteers Needed:

  • Front desk/check-in desk/event desk (at least 2)
  • Score poster (1)
  • Announcer (1)
  • Safety/medical (2)
  • Food/snack table (1)
  • Vendor/sponsor coordinator
  • Set up/clean-up crew (2)
  • Choose a referee management process/Referee coordinator (can be done on pt.com)
  • Registrations (someone familiar with the software if using pt.com)
  • Bracket committee (preferably people who know a lot of players/different skill levels)
  • Somebody to sing the National Anthem
  • Volunteer for the USA Pickleball registrations desk

8.  Supplies

  • Computers (At least 2)
  • Printer
  • Referee Clipboards/One for every court
  • Stopwatches for referees
  • Balls (Cost saving Tip: ask manufacturers for donation)
  • Wristbands (Cost saving Tip: only give to first server during check in)
  • Medals (order 2 to 3 months in advance) For Doubles events, make sure to order 2/team
  • Snacks for players
  • Bottled water
  • Paper plates, napkins, forks, knives, plastic cups, utensils
  • Pencils/markers/tape
  • American/Canadian Flag
  • Board to post paper brackets
  • Legal size paper to print brackets
  • Ream of paper cut 1/2 to print match score sheets
  • Referee board/magnetic name tags
  • Medal stand
  • USA Pickleball banner (ask your local or Regional Ambassadors)

9.  First Aid Recommendations

  • Find and schedule volunteers to work the first aid station (first aid/CPR training preferred)
  • If outdoors, establish a covered medical space (tent) and clearly mark it
  • In indoors, establish a medical space near the courts and clearly mark it
  • Have a basic first aid kit (bandages, gauze, medical tape, etc)
  • Determine if an AED unit is on property. If so, make sure the 1st aid team knows where it's located
  • Paramedic or EMT shears (scissors)
  • Splinter forceps (tweezers)
  • Standard oral thermometer: digital, mercury, or alcohol
  • Wooden tongue depressors ("tongue blades")
  • Small flashlight (and spare batteries)
  • CPR mouth barrier or pocket mask (such as a Microshield X-L Mouth Barrier)
  • Sterile (hypoallergenic or latex) surgical gloves (at least 2 pair); if you are allergic to latex, bring nonlatex, synthetic, nonpermeable gloves;
  • Have cold water on hand (sports drinks with electrolytes are even better)
  • Ice bags or instant chemical cold packs
  • Ziploc bags (to hold ice for ice packs)
  • Rescue blanket
  • Cell phone
  • For emergencies, call 9-1-1.  Also know the local emergency phone numbers and addresses of the nearest hospital or urgent care facility)
  • It is not recommended that you administer medication to players or volunteers.  This includes over the counter drugs.

10.  Marketing

  • Use your email contacts to distribute flyer
  • Distribute flyer in surrounding pickleball communities
  • Use social media, such as Facebook
  • Post flyer/tournament info on USA Pickleball website or Pickleballtournaments.com
  • Create sponsorship packages:
  1. Determine your needs & Goals
  2. Do you need sponsor revenue?
  3. Does the revenue fall to your club or will some/all offset event cost?
  4. Cash versus In-Kind donations. Sponsors are more open to donating product.
  5. Examples of goods & services donations: water, player shirts, pickleballs, etc...)
  6. Items for raffle or silent auction
  • Contact possible vendors/sponsors. Make sure to have tables and chairs available.
  • USA Pickleball Promotes Free Trade and encourages TDs to have a choice of vendors present at the tournament

11.  Registrations

  • When using pt.com, players can register online, sign waiver online, and make payment via PayPal
  • After players register, send player confirmations
  • Facilitate partner search
  • Keep emails short and to the point
  • Check USA Pickleball Ratings AND USA Pickleball Membership, update if needed (pickleball tournaments.com software provides the tools to do this)
  • When using pickleballtournaments.com software, run the day planner frequently to give you an idea of the duration of your brackets, how long and how many matches will be played. Management of brackets (entries per events) is important during the registration process to avoid too many/too few players in a bracket, long waits or long days with no referees/line judges left to cover matches. If there are not enough players you may want to consider Round Robin formats for smaller brackets.
  • Keep players informed by email regarding:
  1. schedule of events
  2. brackets
  3. payment of registration fees
  4. signing of liability waivers
  5. non registered partners
  6. registration deadline and more...

All of the above is easily managed with the pickleballtournaments.com software

12.  Bracket Committee/Seeding of Brackets

  • This must be done AFTER the due date for registrations
  • Invite a small group of knowledgeable players representing all skill levels
  • Meet a couple days before tournament date to create brackets
  • Pickleballtournaments.com provides first round checks to avoid teams from the same club having to play each other right away
  • Decide if chosen format still applies, if not, change formats and inform players before the start of the event

13.  Day Before the Tournament

  • Tape Courts if needed (Official Measurements), set up nets, tables for registration, vendors, food, etc.
  • Put up any promotional/sponsor banners if any
  • Post the brackets on the board so participants and spectators can keep track as the tournament progresses
  • Put up signage for check in, numbers of courts, restrooms, snack table, etc.
  • Post the schedule for upcoming events/days

14.  Day of the Tournament

  • Have players check in at least 30 minutes before the start of the brackets
  • Keep hard copies of blank waiver forms available at check in
  • All registration fees need to be paid before participants can play
  • All participants must have signed the waiver before they are allowed to play
  • Starting 01/2016 all players have to be USA Pickleball members (Sanctioning requirements)
  • Welcome players to the tournament
  • Inform players USA Pickleball rules apply
  • Inform referees to check equipment for compliance (List of Approved Paddles)
  • Thank all the volunteers/Wish good luck to all participants
  • Start the tournament on time
  • Start all available courts with games and keep them occupied throughout the tournament
  • Have warm up courts available if possible
  • Limit warm up time to 2 to 3 minutes
  • Let participants who are “on deck” know, so they can start their warm up and be ready to play when match is called
  • Award medals to the winners of each event

15.  During Tournament

  • A Standard USA Pickleball sanctioned tournament requires a referee for every match
  • MMP Sanctioning has a modified referee requirement.
  • Make sure brackets run on time, no empty courts
  • Make necessary adjustments to events if there is time constraint/rain
  • Keep announcements to minimum
  • Run the tournament and address any and all questions that come up during the event.
  • Check in with your vendors/sponsors/players for feedback
  • Have incident reports available in case of serious injuries. If an injury occurs during play, fill out incident report and pass on to USA Pickleball
  • Have an updated official rules USA Pickleball Rulebook available as well as USA Pickleball membership forms for those who wish to join USA Pickleball or renew their membership

16.  After Tournament

  • Submit results to tourney-results@usapickleball.org within 1 week so the results can be posted (sanctioning requirement). This information must include USA Pickleball member numbers. USA Pickleball member numbers must be provided to ensure accurate identification. Pickleballtournaments.com software has an entry field for this number. Address telephone and email information are no longer required.
  • Keep all documentation/paper on brackets and results until all result posting has been completed by the USA Pickleball Tournament Results Chair
  • Thank all volunteers, players, vendors and sponsors