What Are the Rules for Pickleball Tournaments?

Pickleball Tournaments

Pickleball was a sport invented in the 1960s that combines the athleticism of tennis, the quickness of ping pong, and the team dynamics of badminton.

While it started in obscurity, it’s grown more and more popular over the years. Now, there are over 3.3 million participants in the sport in the United States. There are even pickleball tournaments.

But how do the rules of these tournaments work? Are they like tennis tournaments?— ping pong tournaments?— or something else entirely?

Keep on reading to learn more about the official USA Pickleball Rules for tournaments.

The Categories

Just like similar sports, pickleball tournaments are broken into categories. Generally, you’ll see men’s singles and doubles, women’s singles and doubles, and mixed doubles.

Mixed teams, much like tennis, are teams the consist of both a man and a woman. Pickleball tournaments are broken up into divisions depending on age. The younger person on a doubles team determines which age bracket said team is put in, so a team with a 20-year-old and a 65-year-old couldn’t go and dominate the more aged division.


Generally, scoring in pickleball tournaments is much more straightforward than scoring in tennis tournaments. Individual games are played up to 11 points and can vary between tournaments as to whether one has to win by one or two points. Matches are generally best two out of three games.

However, some tournaments, in an attempt to speed things along, will play one game to 15 points, or even one game to 21 points. These rules are not standardized, so it’s important to check the rules of the individual tournament.


Different pickleball tournaments have different formats.

Some go with single elimination with a consolation bracket. This means that once a team loses a match, they’re knocked into the consolation bracket, and can no longer compete for first or second place. However, they can work their way up to a bronze medal.

Some choose to go with double elimination. The rules work the same as consolation brackets, except those who fall into the losers bracket are still in it to win it. The winner of the losers bracket plays the winner of the winner’s bracket in order to compete for the gold.

However, one still needs to be eliminated twice to lose, so the winner of the winner’s bracket has an advantage. If the winner of the losers bracket beats the winner of the winner’s bracket, they “reset” the bracket, and have to play again to win. Double elimination is one of the most common types of brackets.

Some choose to go with a round-robin format, where all teams play against each other and add up their win-loss ratios to choose a champion.

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Understand the Rules of Pickleball Tournaments

Pickleball is a rising sport, and now there are pickle tournaments to back up the growing popularity. When you enter one, however, it’s important to not just know the rules of the game, but the rules of the tournament: the game behind the game.

For more articles like this, check out our “lifestyle” section.

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