How to Prep for Your First Pickleball Tournament

pickleball tournament

Are you wondering how to prep for your first pickleball tournament? With the right combination of physical and mental preparation, you can win the trophy! And no, not everyone gets an award. 😉

Pickleball Skills

First, make sure you’re physically prepared by practicing your pickleball skills regularly. Whether you’re playing in singles or doubles, know the game and your role inside and out. It’s also essential to stay in shape and have the stamina to complete extended points and games–pickleball can be a very tiring sport! After playing for five hours over two days, I learned this the hard way.

Mental Calmness

Second, keep your head in the game. Be confident in your abilities, know your strategy, and be ready to adjust on the fly. As in many sports, things can change quickly; it is crucial to be prepared for anything when playing pickleball. Maintaining an even temperament often translates well during tournament play. Also, if you have only played amongst friends or at an open play, tournaments might have additional spectators, which means an increased volume of potential distractions. Since pickleball courts are smaller than tennis courts, everyone tends to be closer, which can be a challenge. Remember, eye on the ball!

Choose a Pickleball Tournament

When choosing your first pickleball tournament, there are several things you should keep in mind. Be sure to pick a tournament that is the right level for you. There’s no point in signing up for a beginner tournament if you’re an experienced player–you won’t be challenged and you probably won’t have much fun. Also, make sure the match is happening at a convenient time and location for you. There’s no use signing up for a tournament that’s halfway across the country if you can’t get there or will be fatigued once you arrive. Finally, pick a contest that offers the type of play you’re looking for at a matching level. If you want to compete in doubles and are a 3.0 player, make sure the tournament you pick offers that option.

Now that you identified a pickleball tournament, you’ll need to pick the right partner.

Partner Up

When choosing a pickleball partner, it’s important to pick someone who compliments your playing style. If you’re an aggressive player, pick a partner who is more laid back. That way, you’ll balance each other out. It’s also important to pick someone you can get along with both on and off the court. When choosing a partner, try to find someone better than you at pickleball. This isn’t to secure an easy win; rather, it’s to continue learning and growing your own game. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time together, so why not have a front-row seat to learning?

Study the Rules

Each pickleball tournament will have its own set of rules, so it’s important to learn these before you play. Some things you might need to know include the size of the court, how many points you need to win, and what happens in the event of a tie. Pickleball scoring rules can vary. For example, some tournaments use a win-by-two rule while others play to 11. Knowing the specifics of the tournament you’re playing in will help ensure there are no surprises come game time.

Have the Right Stuff

Wondering what equipment you should pack for your first pickleball tournament? In addition to your pickleball paddle, your backup pickleball paddle and balls, you’ll also need to bring a water bottle, sunscreen, snacks, and a first-aid kit. It’s always best to be prepared for anything that Mother Nature or life can throw at you!

Additional Tips on How to Prep for a Pickleball Tournament

Warm-up and Stretching: Ensure that you have a proper warm-up and stretching routine before each match to reduce the risk of injury and optimize your performance. Include dynamic stretches and a light jog to warm up your muscles.

Practice Drills: Incorporate specific drills into your practice sessions to improve your overall game, such as serving, dinking, volleys, and third-shot drops. These drills will help you hone your skills and develop muscle memory for critical game situations.

Hydration and Nutrition: In addition to packing snacks, pay attention to your hydration and nutrition leading up to and during the tournament. Ensure you are consuming enough fluids and eating a balanced diet to prime your body to maintain peak performance.

Scout the Competition: If possible, watch your opponents’ matches or do some research on their playing style. This will help you develop a strategy for facing them and increase your chances of success.

Manage Expectations: As a first-time tournament participant, it’s essential to set realistic expectations for your performance. Focus on enjoying the experience, learning from your matches, and growing as a player rather than solely aiming for victory.

Develop a Pre-Match Routine: Establish a consistent pre-match routine to help you mentally prepare for each game. This could include visualization, breathing exercises, or other relaxation techniques.


Now that you know how to pick a pickleball tournament and a pickleball partner, you’re ready to compete! With the proper preparation, you have a good chance of taking home the trophy. With these tips in mind, you’ll be prepared to take on any pickleball tournament. Just remember to have fun and enjoy. Good luck!

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