What Makes A Good Pickleball Tournament Great

Some people love to play pickleball with their local neighborhood friends.  We commonly call this social pickleball.  It is what over 90% of pickleball players do on a regular basis for fun, for exercise and for the social aspect too.  That is why they enjoy pickleball.  They can show up at the local court, grab a partner and play games to eleven points until it’s time to go home.  Win or lose, everyone gets to play as much as they want as long as the courts remain open for play.

Then there is the “other” people. Yes, they have fun playing the game, but they want more.  Their competitive juices just flow a little faster and a little hotter than your average social player.  These are the tournament players.

They love it when they arrive at the courts and there is a swag bag of goodies waiting for them at Check In. They love to hear their names called on the loud speaker system.  They love it when their is a special place set aside just for them.  We call this the free hospitality tent and it is generally loaded with fruit and snacks and drinks to help the players stay hydrated and nourished for the duration of their playing time.  These things all go into any good pickleball tournament.  Take these things away and you essentially have social pickleball, only you got to pay for it this time.

Yes, all of these things make for a good pickleball tournament, but what makes a good tournament great???



Yes, tournament players love it when they walk on the court and are greeted by a referee.  It is the single biggest thing that separates social pickleball, where players often forgo calling foot faults, and play a let when they can’t remember how to apply a rule, to tournament pickleball where you always have the correct score and players are always serving and receiving from the correct side and people are not stepping all over the kitchen with no consequence.

A referee makes your pickleball playing experience feel special. And better yet????


A certified referee helps transform any good tournament into a great tournament.

We are about to wrap up this year’s USAPA Southwest Regional with over 600 registered players.  And just like every other USAPA regional tournament throughout the United States, it has a referee on the court for every single match.  And better yet, it has a fully certified referee officiating every single bronze and gold medal match.

What a wonderful sight to see the team of certified referees stepping up to make this regional a truly special experience for the players.

Yep, they’ve got the free hospitality tent and yep they’ve got some cool stuff in the player’s goody stash.  But this tournament, like all USAPA sanctioned tournaments has the one thing that makes a tournament great. REFEREES. Lots of them, and many of them USAPA Certified.

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO STEPS UP TO REFEREE!!!!!  Our sport is a much better place with you on the court.

And a special Pickleball Rocks shout out to the great and growing team of Certified Referees.  You truly do make our sport great.

You truly rock!

2017 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year Announced

During the year, people throughout Pickleball Nation email us or use our NominateAPlayer.com website to tell us about their favorite players. They tell us about players who have dominated in tournament play but many times they also tell us about players who have had tremendous impacts on their communities or towns or even the game of pickleball overall.  (We really like those.)

Throughout the year we may recognize a player, club or community of the month, or we may give a simple Facebook shout out. They are all deserving.  But once a year, we pull together all the nominations and feedback, to finally determine who is most deserving to be called the Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year.     It’s certainly not an easy task.

Past winners include:
Enrique Ruiz, Jim and Yvonne Hackenberg, Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner, Daniel Moore and Scott Moore, and Kyle Yates.
You’ll notice all our past winners are definitely great players, but you will also immediately recognize they all are very giving of their time and talents to “help pickleball grow”, which of course is the foundation of our Pickleball Rocks mission.

This year we had two players who were nominated so many times and turned up in the news so many times, we simply had to recognize both.  Our heartfelt congratulations and thanks for all they do for pickleball.
Pickleball Rocks because of our
2017 Pickleball Players of the Year:


By a landslide, Simone was our most nominated player for 2017 and here’s why:

In 2017 Simone played in 28 total events and medaled in 28 total events, bringing home 24 Gold medals and 4 Silvers. This included an impressive 5 golds in 5 US Open events and 2 golds and a silver at our pickleball’s National Championships in Casa Grande.

Pretty much the perfect pickleball playing year.

But on top of the tremendous year on the courts, Simone also demonstrated what a great ambassador should be.  By all accounts, she is a great mom and many people saw her in action after Hurricane Irma blasted through Southwest Florida. She even took up the paddle for lady players everywhere and did them and our sport proud in the fun Battle of the Sexes event. The smaller unselfish acts are simply too numerous to mention.

Simone is a true champion in every sense of the word.

Congratulations to 2017 Pickleball Player of the Year: Simone Jardim

Once again, a guy stood out in all the nominations. Few people rivaled Aspen’s playing record in 2017. 23 events, 19 medals of which 14 were gold. He had a great year on the courts indeed, but from all the feedback received at our offices, Aspen was truly special off the courts in 2017.

Aspen touched pickleball with two great feel-good projects in 2017.

First, the sport of pickleball has needed an online home where pickleball players both young and old, good players and bad could talk and discuss pickleball issues.  It had been tried numerous times before with little to no success. But Aspen, using a great sense of humor and determination to get people involved in the discussions, launched the Facebook Pickleball Forum.  Now, with over 14,000 members, anyone can ask almost anything and have an answer or discussion almost instantly.  What a great addition to help grow our sport.

Project number 2 was another big success for the sport of pickleball.


Aspen threw an event, which many people do.  But this event was unique in that it was not a tournament, yet people showed up in droves.  TSAC (Third Shot’s A Charm) was held in Kansas City Missouri and was billed as a three day party where you register online, then just show up for open play.  No tournament, no pressure.  Just three days of play till you drop with players of every age, every level, on any court you want to play on.  Add in a big dose of food and fun stuff and you have TSAC. It sold out in short order and from our understanding, the 2018 event is already sold out too.  What a great way to bring pickleball players together and of course “help pickleball grow”.

We love what you are doing Aspen.  Keep up the great work.
Congratulations to our 2017 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year:  Aspen Kern

Pickleball Rocks Team Releases Secret Black Friday Discount Codes

Pickleball Nation, you have gone above and beyond to support our team and make Pickleball Rocks the best selling pickleball apparel brand in the world.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.  Yes, we are thankful.  In order to give back, we have set up the next 26 hours with some special savings for all our friends and fans.

Beginning at 10:00pm tonight (Thursday Novebember 23rd) and running until midnight tomorrow night, you have the opportunity to grab Pickleball Rocks apparel at our best prices ever.

Simply use the codes shown here during their appointed time frames to receive up to 50% OFF.

All times shown are Eastern Standard Time.  And these codes are good for Pickleball Rocks branded stuff.  So they are not good for paddles, balls or Simon.

So have fun, and again, our heartfelt thanks for all you do for us.

-Rocket, Stephanie, Josh, Abby, Zack and LeEllen,
The Pickleball Rocks Team



How Many Referees Does It Take to Run a Pickleball Tournament?

So how many referees does it take to run a sanctioned tournament or any pickleball tournament for that matter?

The answer is 1.   If you have 300 matches to play during your tournament, and your one referee agrees to do all of them, then he or she will be one tired referee. But in theory you could do it.

But the real answer is, it depends on the number of courts you have available for your tournament. If you have 6 courts, then you minimally need 6 referees who are willing to referee all the matches that occur on their court that day. If you have 8 courts, then you need a minimum of 8 referees. If you have 12 courts, 12 refs and so on.

That is, of course, the minimum number needed to have a referee on every match and thus pass that sanctioning requirement.

Now, do we think that is a realistic number? Of course not.

If you have six courts and can find people willing to referee a half day, then you can get by with 12 people. 8 courts would need 16 refs and so on.

But the bottom line is, you need a referee on each court all day long.

So how do you do that? Well, it still goes back to the number of courts you have. It is important that you have enough referees lined up and one assigned to each court at the beginning of each day. That allows you to get off to a good start. The keyword here was “assigned” ahead of time. So referees are already on their courts and ready to go when the players arrived courtside to warm up for that first match. Don’t wait until 15 minutes before the start of your tournament to see who shows up to ref and then assign them.

Schedule and assign them at the beginning of each day.

Likewise it is crucial to schedule your referees for the end of each day. Again, you will need as many refs as you will have courts running in that final two to three hours of the day. This allows you to end each day on a good note.

So where do you get your referees for the rest of each day? That is where your players will always help fill in.

When players register for a tournament, you should always ask, during registration, if they would be willing to help out with a little refereeing. Many will signup when offered the option during registration.

Now the key, very important part: Contact those volunteer players two weeks in advance and ask them to signup for a shift to referee. Let them pick what day and time they want to offer their services. Then follow up with them to confirm you have them scheduled for that day and time. This allows the players to choose the day and time that is most convenient for them and also is the most likely to cause them to follow through on their commitment.

Make a spreadsheet with days and timeslots available and fill it in as people and players commit.   Then it is easy to see the times where you will need some additional help.   But knowing that challenge days ahead of time, rather than the day of the tournament, makes it easy to address.

You will be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to get the necessary referees to allow your tournament to be a USAPA sanctioned event. It takes some planning, but it is well worth having that USAPA seal of approval on your tournament. It shows your commitment to growing the tournament side of the sport the right way and is always appreciated by the players who play it.

Having a pickleball tournament without a referee is no different than having a basketball game without a ref or a baseball game without an umpire or any other sport without any officials. It simply becomes no different than playing for fun at your local courts.

The gold standard when it comes to very well run sanctioned tournaments is of course the USAPA National tournament in Casa Grande. The 2016 Nationals had over 2,000 matches played on 32 courts and every single match was refereed by only 157 people.
It’s really not as tough as people make it out to be.

I love it when I walk onto the court at a tournament and there is a referee standing there. It doesn’t have to be a USAPA certified ref.  It simply needs to be someone who can keep score for us and watch the kitchen violations.  When I see that referee on my court, I know someone is working hard behind the scenes to give me a good tournament playing feel.

Thank you to those tournament directors that go that extra mile.

It certainly is noticed and appreciated. Pickleball Rocks because of you.


Sick Trx Pickleball Team Coming To Nationals Junior Party


Join us at the pavilion next to the food trailer Thursday November 9th from 4:00-6:00 for a party just for USAPA junior Players, featuring free pizza, pop and Sick Trx.

SickTrx is not your grandma’s pickleball.
The Sick Trx guys and gals are a combination of national champions and top rated professional pickleball players who are inspiring a new generation of pickleball players around the world through their entertaining exhibitions and clinics.

Sick Trx members who have committed to come to the party includes:  Brian “The Beard” Ashworth, Irena Tereshenko, Ben Johns, Kyle Yates and Vicki Love.

Sick Trx will be doing a little bit of teaching and having a whole lot of fun on court with you.  Bring your paddles.

See you there,

The Pickleball Rocks Team