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Pickleball is a very popular sport that combines the best elements of tennis, ping-pong, and even badminton into one easy-to-follow activity.

The game has seen a huge rise in popularity in recent years, and it is easy to see why; pickleball is a game that is fun to play, and which can be enjoyed by all manner of individuals at a number of levels – including tournaments for those who are really keen to test their skills!

We took a closer look at pickleball in general, and in particular, at how tournaments are formed and operate – including round-robin tournaments.

Whether you are an experienced pickleball player or simply looking to try something new, why not read on for all you need to know?

What Is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a fast-paced sport that involves two teams of players hitting a ball back and forth across a net using paddles (see also ‘How High Is A Pickleball Net?‘).

It was developed as a way of combining some of the best aspects of tennis with other sports such as badminton and ping pong.

The rules are simple: each team consists of two players, and they must hit the ball back and forth across the net between them.

Each time the ball hits the ground, it bounces before being returned to the opposite team, and if the ball goes out of bounds, then the opposing team gets possession of it.

How Does A Round Robin Tournament Work In Pickleball?

Round-robin tournaments work in much the same way as regular tournaments do in tennis, and are used in pickleball in situations where fewer than six teams are participating in a tournament.

This means that each team plays every other team once during the course of the competition, and the winner is determined based on how many points they have accumulated over the course of the entire event.

Each match is one game to 15 points or 21 points, or, alternatively, the best of three games to determine the victor.

The winner is deemed to be the player who wins the most games overall in the tournament, and a tie-breaker will see the teams with the highest scores go head-to-head to determine an overall winner. 

How Does A RoundRobin Tournament Work (1)

Types Of Pickleball Tournaments

There are two main types of pickleball tournaments – sanctioned and unsanctioned.

Sanctioned tournaments are run by official governing bodies, and include events such as the United States Pickleball Association.

These tournaments (see also ‘Pickleball Tournament Prizes – Everything You Need To Know‘) are open to anyone who wishes to enter, and they usually take place over several weeks or months.

Sanctioned tournaments are required to follow certain rules and regulations, including those surrounding court size, equipment, and so on.

Unsanctioned tournaments, on the other hand, are more informal affairs, and often involve just a few people taking part.

They tend to be held over shorter periods of time, and may only last a single day.

Pickleball tournaments tend to be divided into a number of categories, including sex, number of players, age, skill level, and winning method.

We took a closer look at these below.


Tournament organizers can choose to divide their events into male and female divisions, allowing players to compete against the best players of their own sex.

In some cases, tournaments may also be mixed-sex, operating on a mixed-doubles format.

This means that both men and women play together, and the winners are decided according to which pair has scored the most points.

Number Of Players

As with tennis, tournaments may include both singles and doubles matches – with many players taking up spots in both divisions if permitted by the organizers.


Some tournaments allow players to compete against others of similar age, while others require participants to be at least 18 years old.

Some organizations even set minimum ages for particular events, meaning that younger players cannot participate unless they meet the criteria.

In many cases, particularly sanctioned tournaments, players will play against opponents from within their own age category – this helps to ensure that all competitors are playing against players of roughly equal ability, size and strength for fairness and safety.

Skill Level

This refers to the standard of play expected at a given tournament.

Organizers may set different levels of difficulty, depending on the type of event being staged.

For example, there may be a beginner (see also ‘Is Pickleball Easy For Beginners?‘), intermediate and experienced category – this allows players to compete against each other based on their individual abilities.

Winning Method

Many tournaments use a round-robin system to decide the winner.

The idea behind this is simple: every participant plays everyone else once, and whoever comes out on top after all the matches have been completed wins the tournament.

As we mentioned, winners can be determined according to the number of matches or points won, but it’s not uncommon for organizers to award prizes to individuals who come out on top in terms of overall performance.

Other methods of determining winners include using a knockout system, where the first person to win three games wins the match; or a series of sudden-death matches, where the loser is eliminated from the competition.

These are usually more common in unsanctioned or more informal settings.

The Best Way To Play

If you’re new to pickleball, it’s probably worth starting off with a more relaxed, informal tournament.

This will give you a chance to get used to the rules and equipment, and ensure that you build confidence and skill in a tournament setting.

If you are already familiar with the game, however, then why not try entering your own official tournament, or even set one up for you and friends or fellow players?

One of the major appeals of pickleball is the inclusivity, and this can be a great way to encourage people to take part in the sport.

Final Thoughts

Pickleball is an exciting and fun sport to play, and it’s easy to see why so many people love it.

Tournaments offer a fantastic opportunity to test yourself against like-minded players, and to improve your skills and fitness level!