Pickleball Tournament Structure Should Be Re-evaluated!

Every year there are more and more pickleball tournaments.  Every tournament that we have experienced, both as players and spectators, includes the common divisions of women’s doubles; men’s doubles; mixed doubles; women’s singles; men’s singles; masters and legends.  Some are “skill level” tournaments and some are “age group” tournaments.  The majority of tournaments include a double elimination type of competition if the number of teams entering that division is sufficient.  If there are 4 or fewer teams entering the division,  a round robin competition is generally offered.  We would like to suggest that the following points should be considered when organizing a pickleball tournament:

1.  While skill level tournaments do offer an opportunity for competition for the lesser skilled players, they discourage older players of 4.0 or 4.5 calibre to compete.  A 75-yr. old who is a 4.0 player CANNOT stay with a 55-yr. old 4.0 player on an equal basis over the long run.  Their strength, endurance and speed is NOT comparable.  It’s just a fact of aging.

2.  Oftentimes the same players who compete in men’s and women’s doubles in the 65+ divisions, are the very same players who then compete in the Legends Division.  Why do it twice?!

3.  Instead of running a straight double-elimination for the 70+ and 75+ divisions, it’s suggested that the Bronze medal match be one 15-pt. game instead of the best 2 out of 3 games.  A team of older players who drop down into the loser’s bracket have to play lots of games in order to make it back to the finals.  It’s very trying on these players physically.  Let’s give them a break!  No matter how well conditioned an older player is,  there’s only so much that he should expect from his body.  He should never be subjected to a situation that might cause serious injury or illness.

3 Responses to “Pickleball Tournament Structure Should Be Re-evaluated!”

  1. Rodney "Rocket" Grubbs on 17 Feb 2009 at 12:08 am #

    Just wanted to throw my two cents in on the above three concerns. When I founded VisionaryTennis.com we saw the same three concerns pop up over and over again amongst our tennis playing members. Essentially we solved the first two questions by promoting and increasing membership. Eventually you will get so many tournament participants that you will have so many rounds of competition to reach the finals that your Legends will have to choose which division they want to participate in because it will simply be “too much” pickleball to try to play both. Greater numbers of players also causes more and more tournaments, both age-level and skill-level. If you have more tournaments to choose from, the 75-year old 4.5 player will be happier playing in say a 65 year old division where his skills will help him win despite the lack of his old time conditioning rather than playing a 4.5 level tournament against 55 year olds.
    Concern number three comes down to doing what makes your members happiest and we found that as our tournaments became bigger, players were much happier having a shorter bronze medal match. I believe as pickleball continues to grow and tournaments get bigger, the shear number of rounds that have to be played to reach the bronze medal match will necessitate the shorter match. In summary, let’s really grow this sport and most of the problems will take care of themselves.

  2. susan dever on 07 Apr 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    Pls tell me if there are any specific requirements for serving and equipment. Must the server hit the ball below the waist?

    I play Padel and wonder if this paddle is considered an illegal paddle in pickleball. Although it is probably to heavy I am curious as to if it meets requirments for a pickleball game.

    Also if I win the first game . . . how is it determined who serves first in the second game?

    Thank you,
    shd@aol.com

  3. Alice Tym on 07 Apr 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    Round robins are fine. Double elimination is not good in active individual sports. Maybe for softball when people stand around a lot but not for age events. Good points in this article.

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