USAPA Sanctioning Requirements
Sanctioning is the process through which the USAPA grants qualifying tournaments the Sanctioned designation. A Tournament Director who applies and receives sanctioning, agrees to meet and abide by all the sanctioning requirements and therefore, the TD and the players who participate in a sanctioned event are eligible to receive the benefits associated with sanctioning.
Sanctioning Benefits to Tournament Directors
By agreeing to abide by the sanctioning requirements, Tournament Directors receive the following benefits:
- General event liability insurance (pdf)
- Use of the sanctioned logo in all event media
- Secondary accident insurance for USAPA members
- Free listing and flyer attachment on the USAPA tournament calendar
- IFP rules apply, approved playing formats and matches officiated by referees
- Discounted fees when using pickleballtournaments.com
- Support from USAPA Tournament Sanctioning Staff
- Increased participation. Players prefer events run in accordance with all USAPA rules
- Increased player participation because of tournament point eligibility
- Public acknowledgement that your local organization supports the USAPA – governing body of pickleball
Sanctioning Benefits to Players
Players receive the following benefits at no additional cost:
- Secondary Accident Insurance (USAPA Members)
- All matches referee officiated
- Eligibility for Tournament Points
- Rating recommendations and/or reevaluation of rating for qualifying players
- Unrated players can receive a USAPA skill rating following the event
- Standardized and Approved IFP Rules and playing formats will be used
For a tournament to be granted sanctioning the tournament director(s) must follow the application process, abide by all sanctioning requirements listed below and agree to complete the Tournament Director Checklist.
The Tournament Director or sponsoring club must complete and submit a USAPA Tournament Sanctioning Application at least 60 days prior to the scheduled event. The USAPA Tournament Coordinator is responsible for approving or denying all sanctioning requests.
Payment of Sanction Fee
After the sanctioning request has been approved by the USAPA Tournament Coordinator and the Sanction Fee has been paid, the Tournament Director may advertise that they are sanctioned by the USAPA. If the sanction fee has not been received at least 10 days before the start of the tournament, the pending sanction will be withdrawn and no sanctioning will take place. After receiving payment of the sanction fee the USAPA will advertise the tournament on the Schedule page of the USAPA website and will add the words “USAPA Sanctioned (Tier #)” and display the sanctioning logo. The “USAPA Sanctioned Event” logo will be supplied via email to the tournament director and may be used in all tournament media.
USAPA-sanctioned tournaments are insured by a General Liability Policy and Participant Accident Policy. The insurance is automatic if the tournament has been sanctioned. Click here to request a certificate for proof of insurance if required by the owner of the venue. The certificate should be requested at least 30 days before the start of the tournament. A certificate will only be issued upon request and after receipt of the sanction fee.
Beginning January 1, 2016 a player in any/all USAPA sanctioned pickleball tournaments will be required to be a current member of the USAPA before playing any match in the tournament.
Before a tournament is USAPA sanctioned, the tournament director must declare the make and model of the ball that will be used. The ball must be listed on the IFP/USAPA list of Approved Balls. Until the approved ball is declared, the sanctioning status will remain as ‘USAPA pending’.
The tournament director must follow all IFP Official Tournament Rules.
Tournament Director Responsibilities
It is the responsibility of the Tournament Director to be certain that players are competing in the correct events based on age or rating. For a list of Approved Events Click here. Allowing ineligible players to compete in a bracket impacts the awarding of points. Questions about combining brackets can be addressed to: USAPA Tournament Coordinator. If any players join or renew USAPA membership at the tournament, please let us know. USAPA Membership needs to be confirmed before we can award Tournament points. A player’s age in a sanctioned tournament will be determined by the player’s age on December 31. An exception will be made if a state senior games organization mandates a different date in their tournament.
A Sanctioned Tournament must have a minimum of 40 or more entries to be eligible for continued sanctioning the following year. (Entries are defined as one doubles team or one singles player). The tournament shall be open to all players who meet the general requirements of any tournament, such as age or skill level. Entries may be limited by geographical locations such as city, county, regional, or state residency. Draw sizes in events may be limited because of court availability, but must take entrants in the order they are received. No preference can be given to any player or group of players in any tournament. Restrictions on tournament entries will be judged on a case-by-case basis and can result in your tournament’s ineligibility for Tournament Points or placement in a lower tier level.
USAPA sanctioned tournaments that wish to offer non-sanctioned events, such as demonstrations, clinics, and co-occurring tournaments, should, if possible, offer these events on days either before or after the dates set for sanctioned tournament play.
If holding these events before or after the tournament play dates is not possible, all non-sanctioned events must be disclosed in the application process and approved by the USAPA before they can be publicized and held.
If the tournament director or organizer receives approval by the USAPA to conduct a non-sanctioned event with its sanctioned tournament, the director or organizer agrees and acknowledges that:
- The event is not covered under any USAPA-issued certificate of insurance unless the certificate explicitly states that it is covered;
- Players participating in the non-sanctioned event are not covered by any USAPA insurance policy unless the certificate explicitly states that they are covered;
- USAPA tournament points will not be awarded for participation in the event;
- USAPA player ratings will not be awarded; and
- The tournament director or organizer will communicate the above four conditions to the event participants in the disclosure materials and application forms (electronic or otherwise) furnished to them.
At the discretion of the USAPA, tournament directors and organizers who attempt to circumvent the sanctioning process in any way or who offer contemporaneous unapproved events with a USAPA sanctioned tournament will not receive sanctioning approval or will have their sanctioning revoked.
In accordance with the requirements of the American with Disabilities Act, the USAPA will not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in its services, programs or activities. Rules for wheelchair players are in the IFP Rulebook or you can click here to view them.
Within one week of the end of a tournament, completed results must be reported to the Tournament Points Chair through the link on the USAPA software or pickleballtournaments.com software. USAPA member numbers must be included to ensure accurate identification. The USAPA tournament software and the pickleballtournaments.com software have an entry field for this number. Medal-winning USAPA members will be guaranteed at least the number of points for the assigned tier level (see Tournaments Points System) if there is at least one more competitor in the event than the number of awards given.
USAPA Right of Refusal
USAPA reserves the right to refuse to sanction tournaments, list tournaments on the USAPA website/calendar, or accept advertising where a tournament director has:
- Not complied with USAPA policies or rules
- Disparaged the USAPA
- Created deceptive or confusing forms, advertising or promotional materials wrongly implying or stating USAPA involvement in the tournament or making other factual misstatements that could mislead players on significant matters. This includes duplicating major USAPA tournament names, with terms such as “National”, “Regional”, etc. where USAPA deems the term is in direct conflict with an existing USAPA event.
Tournament Management Software
Tournament directors are highly encouraged to use one of two USAPA-approved tournament management systems (USAPA Brackets & Software or pickleballtournaments.com). Tournament directors of larger events, 100 or more entries, may wish to use PickleballTournaments.com tournament software. This software is approved for all tournaments. PickleballTournaments.com includes USAPA membership verification capability and reporting. If using USAPA or any other software, Tournament Directors are required to obtain and report all players USAPA Member numbers and membership expiration dates in addition to submitting tournament results.
A player’s rating is not required to participate in a tournament but is helpful. The ratings for many USAPA members are already in the USAPA rating system and can be viewed on the USAPA Ratings page. This is most important for skill-level tournaments. Ratings are also important for seeding players within events. If a player is not rated they can self-rate. Tournament Directors are encouraged to assign a rating to unrated players, based on observation of the player’s ability combined with the IFP Rating Descriptions.
The tournament director is encouraged to submit ratings for non rated USAPA members and players whose ratings should be changed after the tournament. For questions and/or recommendations email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
USAPA Membership Forms
Arrange for a USAPA Ambassador to be available during the duration of the event to promote the sport, answer questions regarding membership for players who wish to join the USAPA or renew their memberships and field any other questions from players and/or spectators. New memberships and membership renewals along with their checks must be sent to: USAPA, PO Box 7354, Surprise, AZ 85374.
Designing Tournament Entry Forms
Be sure to include spaces for player member number, name, address, email, skill level, age, phone#, emergency contact and any other pertinent information.
USAPA Regional Tournaments
There is one USAPA Regional tournament per year in each of the eight USAPA geographic regions. The annual USAPA National tournament and USAPA Regionals events are the only pickleball tournaments directly managed by USAPA. Following are the guidelines for USAPA Regionals tournaments:
- USAPA Regional Directors may designate one tournament per year as the USAPA Regional Tournament for their region.
- USAPA Regional Tournaments are open to all players and all ages.
- USAPA membership is required to play in a USAPA regional tournament.
- Tier levels assigned to USAPA regional tournaments will be consistent with the guidelines for Assigning Tournament Tier Levels.
- A state or region may have more than one tier 2 tournament in the same year depending on the tournament format and meeting the tier level requirements for a tier 2 tournament. An example would be a state or regional tournament and a senior tournament; both qualifying as tier 2 tournaments.
- The standard double-elimination tournament format should be used. Games should be 2 of 3 to 11 win by 2 points for all first round matches. Lower bracket matches may also be 2 of 3 games to 11 win by 2 points or 1 to 15 win by 2 points. At the discretion of the tournament director some or all matches may also be one game to 15 points or one game to 21 points, win by 2 points. In the event of Round Robin format games to 15 win by 1 point, games to 21 win by 1 point or 3 games to 11 win by 1.
- These requirements are an effort to standardize tournament operating procedures and USAPA tournament reporting requirements. These took effect January 1, 2013.