Tournament Directors Guide


Version 3.1  –  11 January 2018 


Purpose of this Guide:  

This Tournament Director guide is intended as a tool to assist tournament directors in the planning of a Pickleball Canada sanctioned tournaments; however, it can be used for the planning of an Unsanctioned or a Pickleball Canada Supported tournament as well. It provides an easy to follow step by step checklist and your experienced Pickleball Canada staff are available to answer any questions you may have along the way. Please contact us at tournaments@pickleballcanada.orgNow, let’s start planning!

Appoint a Tournament Director and/or Co-Tournament Directors
Choose a Venue
Create a Budget
Sanction the Tournament
Create a Flyer with Complete Tournament Information
Posting on Websites
Solicit Volunteers
First Aid Recommendations
Player Registrations
Bracket Committee/Seeding of Brackets
Day Before the Tournament
Day of the Tournament
Daily Operations
After the Tournament
Download a PDF file


1.  Appoint a Tournament Director and/or Co-Tournament Directors

  1. Read the Pickleball Canada Sanctioning Requirements
  2. Choose/Appoint the Tournament Director
  3. Select a Tournament management system.  For tournaments with more than 50 players the tournament director is highly encouraged to use a Pickleball Canada approved tournament management systems: Currently there is only one approved Pickleball Tournament software system  These software systems assist with the control and reporting of the tournament.
  4. Select tournament dates and consider nonconflicting dates with other tournaments in your area.
  5. Set opening/closing dates for registration.  Allow sufficient time before the starting date to prepare brackets and seed the players.
  6. Determine the registration fees and establish a fair refund policy which will depend upon your financial commitments.
  7. If you choose to use a Tournament Management system CREATE a PayPal account keeping in mind there is an additional charge for this service  Select the Business Standard account during the creation process which will allow you conduct normal business and create invoices to send to your sponsors for their records. Be sure to complete the registration process fully and link the PayPal account to your organizations bank account.  REMEMBER: your bank account can only be linked to a single PayPal account

2.  Choose a Venue

  1. IMPORTANT Number of courts and the number of days will be a deciding factor on how many players and/or events the tournament can accommodate.
  2. Choose an approved format and events (WD, MXD, Singles, Age, Skill, etc.).  DO NOT have conflicting events on the same day i.e. Men’s Singles and Doubles.
  3. Decide on the number of participants in each event (set parameters) based upon the size of the venue, the number of hours you plan to play each day, the type of matches i.e. 2 out of 3 to 11 points win by 2, takes longer than other formats.  Rule of Thumb for double elimination: number of matches in a bracket equals twice the number of teams minus 2 i.e. for a 16 team bracket (2*16)-2=30 matches. Only use Round Robin for 4 or 5 Teams and then decide how.
  4. Permanent nets preferred but not limited to, most larger or indoor tournaments use temporary courts/nets
  5. Check for Wi-Fi availability and electrical outlets. IMPORTANT if you are planning to use a public wifi access point be prepared for interruptions.  Consider the use of a Wi-Fi Hotspot available on short term rental to avoid interruptions.
  6. PA/Sound system
  7. Lights
  8. Room for and availability of vendor/sponsor spaces/tables
  9. Restrooms
  10. Confirm with the venue regarding need of approved food vendors if any.
  11. Consider surface conditions and ability to control players tracking debris onto the courts        

  3.  Create a Budget

  1. Decide on compensation if any for referees and/or referee management team
  2. Factor cost related to the use of tournament management software See fee schedule
  3. If you have created a PayPal account include the cost in your budget planning process Currently, those costs are 2.9% of the transaction value plus $0.30 per transaction i.e. on a $50 entry fee, your costs would be $1.45 plus $0.30 for a total $1.75.  Consider including these costs in your refund policy since PayPal will retain these costs on any refund executed after 30 days
  4. Court rental
  5. Medals and/or rewards
  6. Food, water
  7. Supplies (tape, scissors, paper, pencils, etc…)
  8. Goodie bags, T-shirts (if any)
  9. Wristbands for first servers
  10. Buy portable nets if needed
  11. Portable toilets
  12. Prize money (if any)

4.  Sanction the Tournament

  1. Submit Sanctioning Request Form at least 60 days prior to tournament date (Sanctioning Requirement)
  2. When notified of sanctioning approval, Pay your sanctioning fee no later than 10 days before tournament date
  3. Certificate of Insurance can be downloaded if required by the owner of the venue.  THIS INSURANCE IS ONLY VALID IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED PRIOR APPROVAL FROM PICKLEBALL CANADA.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the Sanctioning requirements, and IFP Rules Handbook      

5.  Create a Flyer with Complete Tournament Information  

You can find templates for flyers online for most document production software with a simple search.  The following is a list of items you may want to include in the flyer:
  1. Tournament title
  2. Registration and Entry Event fees
  3. Tournament Format Pickleball Canada Approved Events
  4. Date(s) and times of tournament
  5. Website where and how to register
  6. Tournament Ball from the Approved Ball
  7. Contact information for questions regarding registrations and tournament info
  8. Location of and directions to venue
  9. Sanctioning Logo/Tier Level (will be emailed to you after sanctioning approval and fee has been paid)
  10. Rain day plan

6.  Posting on Websites        

         After sanctioning has been approved Pickleball Canada will advertise and list tournament info (and flyer) on the Pickleball Canada Tournament Calendar.
         We will require the following information as a minimum!
  1. Registration information
  2. Contact information
  3. Players needing partners
  4. Players list
  5. Events
  6. Directions
  7. Lodging/Accommodations information
  8. Cancellation policy
  9. Rules/format of play
  10. Any other info pertaining to your tournament
  11. Waiver 

7.  Solicit Volunteer   

         Recruit volunteers from your local Pickleball clubs. Your needs will depend upon the number of players, referees, the venue and the length of your playing day. Referees are a significant impact on any tournament especially since Pickleball Canada sanctioned tournaments require referees for every medal match and for every match at the National Tournament. Be sure to conduct a Referee training program leading up to your tournament.  Volunteer management can be done through a Tournament Management Software
Volunteers Needed:
  1. Front desk/check-in desk/event desk (at least 2) for small tournaments
  2. Referee Coordinator(s)
  3. Score poster (1)
  4. Announcer (1)
  5. Safety/medical (2)
  6. Food/snack table (1)
  7. Vendor/sponsor coordinator
  8. Set up/clean-up crew (2)
  9. Choose a referee management process/Referee coordinator (can be done on Tournament Management Software)
  10. Registrations (someone familiar with the software if using Tournament Management Software
  11. Bracket committee (preferably people who know a lot of players/different skill levels)
  12. Somebody to sing the National Anthem
  13. Volunteer for the Pickleball Canada registrations desk       

8.  Supplies

  1. Computers. At least 2 but they do not need to be the latest technology.  We do not recommend using personal equipment that may contain personal information such as banking or medical. (Pickleball Canada or may be able to provide for fee). 
  2. Printer to print score sheets and results (Pickleball Canada or may be able to provide for fee)
  3. Uninterruptible Power Source for the printer if you are concerned about power interruption.
  4. Referee Clipboards/One for every court
  5. Stopwatches for referees. IMPORTANT to control play
  6. Balls (Cost saving Tip: ask manufacturers for donation)
  7. Wristbands (Cost saving Tip: only give to first server during check in)
  8. Medals (order 2 to 3 months in advance) For Doubles events, make sure to order 2/team
  9. Snacks for players
  10. Bottled water
  11. Paper plates, napkins, forks, knives, plastic cups, utensils
  12. Pencils/markers/tape
  13. American/Canadian Flag
  14. Board to post paper brackets
  15. Legal size paper to print brackets
  16. Ream of paper cut 1/2 to print match score sheets. TIP: get the paper cut at the store where you buy it for a few dollars.  You will need a full sheet cut in half for each match in the tournament
  17. Referee board/magnetic name tags to control Refs
  18. Medal stand/PODIUM to take medals photos
  19. Pickleball Canada banner 

9.  First Aid Recommendations

  1. Find and schedule volunteers to work the first aid station (first aid/CPR training preferred).  You may want to consider contracting with St Johns Ambulance or similar organizations at a cost.
  2. If outdoors, establish a covered medical space (tent) and clearly mark it
  3. In indoors, establish a medical space near the courts and clearly mark it
  4. Have a basic first aid kit (bandages, gauze, medical tape, etc)
  5. Determine if an AED unit is on property. If so, make sure the1st aid team knows where it’s located
  6. Paramedic or EMT shears (scissors)
  7. Splinter forceps (tweezers)
  8. Standard oral thermometer: digital, mercury, or alcohol
  9. Wooden tongue depressors (“tongue blades”)
  10. Small flashlight (and spare batteries)
  11. CPR mouth barrier or pocket mask (such as a Microshield X-L Mouth Barrier)
  12. (hypoallergenic or latex) surgical gloves (at 2 pair); if you are allergic to latex, bring nonlatex, synthetic, nonpermeable gloves
  13. Rescue blanket
  14. Cell phone
  15. Incident Report forms and a pen (Pickleball Canada sends a copy to all tournament directors)
  16. Ziploc bags (to hold ice for ice packs)
  17. WATER and sports drinks with electrolytes are even better
  18. EMERGENCY PHONE to call 9-1-1
  19. WEATHER: Playing in hot conditions watch for signs of Heat Stroke and remind to hydrate frequently and review Canadian Occupational Health Guidelines
  20. Ensure player bags are off the ground to minimize trip hazards

10.  Marketing      

1. Determine your needs & Goals           
                      a) Create a flyer
                      b) Distribute your flyer within your local community
                      c) Send your flyer to other Pickleball Communities
                      d) Use Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter to get the word out
2. Do you need sponsor revenue?
3. Does the revenue fall to your club or will some/all offset event cost?
4. What type Sponsor Revenue
                       a)Cash versus In-Kind donations. Sponsors are more open to donating product.
                       b)Examples of goods & services donations: water, player shirts, pickleballs, etc…)
                       c)Items for raffle or silent auction
5.Create a Sponsorship Package to present to potential Sponsors
                       a)Create a vendor agreement that both parties sign
                       b)Contact possible vendors/sponsors
                       c)Make sure to have tables and chairs available
                       d)Pickleball Canada Promotes Free Trade and encourages Tournament Directors to have a wide range of vendors present at the tournament

11.  Player Registrations

         Registering players can be time consuming and tedious for tournament volunteers because you must maintain a register, accept payment, acquire a liability waiver.  Then should a player withdraw you may need to provide a refund.   For these reason Pickleball Canada recommends that Tournaments use Tournament Management Software.  For a minor cost the players can :
  1. Register On-line
  2. Sign a Waiver
  3. Make their payment thru a payment system
  4. Find a Partner
The Tournament Management Software provides the Tournament Director and Registrar with a wide range of capabilities which include:
  1. Advertising!
  2. Managing Registrations and the ability to restrict players based upon membership, age, skill, other events entered
  3. Managing Waivers
  4. Receiving Payments
  5. Communicating with players individually and in bulk
  6. Ratings searches against the IFP Ratings Database
  7. Membership confirmation; and
  8. Capability to Plan and Manage the Tournament Day
  9. Rating recommendation reports
  10. Financial Reports and
  11. Players Results reports  

12.  Bracket Committee/Seeding of Brackets

This should be a team of relatively experienced players with a broad knowledge of the game drawn from all skill levels.
  1. Meet after registrations have closed and several days before the tournament dates
  2. Agree on a process
  3. Considering bracket size make a recommendation for how it should be played
  4. Identify the top 10-25 percent of the bracket and seed
  5. Seed the remainder of the bracket
  6. Move to the next bracket
  7. REMINDER – Seeding is NOT a perfect science and should NOT be shared with the players for a variety of reasons. 
The Tournament Management Software should have a capability to check that players from the same club do not play each other in the first round.  It is very disappointing for players to travel to a tournament only to face a player from their own club in the first round. 

13.  Day Before the Tournament

  1. Confirm the Operation Desk processes with the Operations Coordinator
  2. Check the functionality of your computers, printers and communications equipment at the site.  IMPORTANT: do not use public Wi-Fi to support your tournament
  3. Confirm Referee Desk operation with the Ref Desk Coordinator
  4. Tape Courts if needed (Official Measurements), set up nets, tables for registration, vendors, food, etc.
  5. Put up any promotional/sponsor banners if any
  6. Post the brackets on the board so participants and spectators can keep track as the tournament progresses
  7. Put up signage for check in, numbers of courts, restrooms, snack table, etc.
  8. Post the schedule for upcoming events/days

14.  Day of the Tournament

  1. Have players check in at least 30 minutes before the start of the brackets
  2. Have hard copies of blank waiver forms available at check in
  3. Registration fees MUST be paid before participants can play
  4. Participants MUST signed the liability waiver before they are allowed to play
  5. All players have to be Pickleball Canada members (Sanctioning requirements)
  6. Inform players IFP rules apply
  7. Inform referees to check equipment for compliance (List of Approved Paddles)
  8. Welcome players to the tournament
  9. Thank all the volunteers/Wish good luck to all participants
  10. Start the tournament on time
  11. Start all available courts with games and keep them occupied throughout the tournament.  Every minute a court is unoccupied is an additional minute in your day.
  12. Have warm up courts available if possible
  13. Limit warm up time to 2 to 3 minutes
  14. Let participants who are “on deck” know, so they can start their warm up and be ready to play when match is called
  15. Award medals to the winners of each event  

15.  Daily Operations

  1. Currently, Pickleball Canada sanctioned tournament requires a referee for every Medal match.  However, the Canadian Nationals Tournament must have a referee for all matches.
  2. Ensure brackets run on time, no empty courts This is achieved by Referees/Players promptly returning the score to the Desk and the desk staff promptly posting it.  IMPORTANT: every minutes delayed handling is a minute added to your day!!
  3. Make necessary adjustments to events if there is time constraint/rain
  4. Keep announcements to minimum
  5. Run the tournament and address any and all questions that come up during the event.
  6. Check in with your vendors/sponsors/players for feedback
  7. Have incident reports available in case of serious injuries. If an injury occurs during play, fill out incident report and pass on to Pickleball Canada
  8. Have an updated official rules IFP Rules Handbook
  9. Have a Pickleball Canada membership forms for players who wish to join the Pickleball Canada or renew their membership        

16.  After Tournament

  1. Pay your bills promptly
  2. Submit results to and within 10 days so the results can be posted (sanctioning requirement) and if reporting is delayed report the expected response date ASAP. The reporting can be easily completed through the reporting capabilities of the Tournament Management Software. This information must include Pickleball Canada member numbers to ensure accurate identification.
  3. Conduct an After-Activity meeting of your tournament committee to identify the successes, failures and recommended changes and share these with us at
  4. Your committee may want to conduct a survey players and volunteers and seek their input for improvements
  5. Keep All documentation/paper on brackets and results until all result posting completed by the Pickleball Canada Tournament Chair     
17.  Weather?

WEATHER - Outdoor Play
  1. Consider need to defer or cancel play due to air quality, rain, thunderstorms or lightening 
  3. Extreme Heat - Consider need for additional time for hydration and rest between matches.  Review the Canadian Health Guidelines  as a resource to understand the risks to players
  4. Monitor air quality warnings and review provincial guidelines.
WEATHER - Indoor Play


         Thank all volunteers, players, vendors and sponsors