Tips on how to run a smooth pickleball tournament

this post was written by Kevin Curley, the Pickleball Guru’s social media specialist.
Even with the best technology aiding in running your pickleball tournament – like, making sure everything runs smoothly is about planning ahead and preparing for anything that may go wrong. Here are a few tips that I recommend considering when you’re planning a pickleball tournament.

Location, location, location

Yes, dedicated pickleball courts or lined tennis courts are a necessity. Keep in mind we’re not talking about just the courts. Here are some things you might want to consider when picking a place. In some cases, you may not be flexible.


While I doubt that all of you only play for the bling, it is a great accomplishment to stand on the winners’ podium and a medal is a great keepsake for your effort. Awards come in all different shapes and sizes; and there are a lot of companies that make medals both locally and nationwide. But they are something that often is left to the last minute – mainly because you never know exactly how many people will register for your tournament.


More and more I see t-shirts being an optional “upgrade” to a player’s registration. If I am going to “upgrade” for a shirt, I want an actual upgraded shirt. In the last tournament I ran in Michigan, we offered New Balance wicking shirts. This switch mainly reflected my personal opinion that I have too many cotton shirts in my closet. But shirts are not essential to making a tournament run smoothly; and often can cause more stress as the tournament gets closer.

Registration Deadline

Even though you want to give people as much time to register, an early registration deadline gives you ample opportunity to get your tournament as ready as possible. You’ll need to create your brackets, finalize start times to ensure your players are not waiting longer than actually playing. An early registration also gives you plenty of time to get the correct number of awards and prizes.

Age, Skill, Age/Skill

How you decide to set up your brackets is really a personal preference. Besides the traditional mixed, women’s, and men’s doubles brackets, the type of tournament will determine your bracketology recipe, i.e. age, skill, age/skill. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type – it really all depends on the type of tournament you want to run and the level of players you hope to attract.

Double-Elimination, Single-Elimination, Round Robin

After your registration ends and you are able to see the number of teams per bracket, you’ll need to figure out what type of game they’ll play.

Food & Drinks

This is clearly an optional item when running a smooth tournament. Sure, you may be able to make a little money by selling water or oranges, but have a volunteer organize this element and run it during the tournament.

Your Committee

A great committee is essential in making sure all the different components of your tournament runs smoothly. If possible, you should have helpers organize the following:

Final Thoughts

These are just some ideas I’m sharing based on the few tournaments I’ve ran in Michigan in the past two years. If you have any other suggestions, please share on The Pickleball Guru’s Facebook Page.

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