First of all, there are many tournaments that are not sanctioned by USA Pickleball that are amazing and fun. Here are just a few of the pickleball tournaments/tours that are not sanctioned by USAP but equally fun and well-organized:
- ICT Classic and ICT Fall-out Tournaments
- iPickle Nation Tournaments
- PPA Tour
- Shangri-la Pickleball Open
- Sunflower State Games and Kansas Senior Games
- World Pickleball Tour
The key differences between a USAP-sanctioned tournament and a non-sanctioned tournament are whether your UTPR will be affected (results from non-sanctioned pickleball tournaments are not counted towards your UTPR) and the use of referees. However, it’s mostly the former since the introduction of no-referee sanctioning. Additionally, players must be active members of USAP in order to participate in USAP-sanctioned pickleball tournaments.
If you’ve decided to play in a USAP-sanctioned tournament (because you want your UTPR to go up, or because you want to qualify for the Diamond Amateur Championship or USAP Nationals, or whatever your reason may be), it’s important to be familiar with the different types of sanctioning.
Standard sanctioning is the highest level of sanctioning. This type of sanctioning requires every match to have a referee. Examples of this include USAP National Championship and USAP Newport Beach Championship.
Match Medal Plus (MMP) Sanctioning
In an MMP-sanctioned tournament, only the winner bracket finals, consolation bracket finals, and the medal matches require referees. All other matches are not refereed unless specifically requested by the players or special circumstances arise.
In a No-Referee sanctioned tournament, referees are not required for matches, but a USA Pickleball Certified Referee must be present at the venue to answer player questions and address on-court issues.
The No-Referee option is not available to the following tournaments:
- USA Pickleball National Championship
- All National Championship Series (NCS) Tournaments
- National Indoor Championship
- USA Pickleball Diamond Regional Tournaments
- Diamond Amateur Championship
- Any tournament with prize money (every bracket of prize money tournaments must be refereed at least at the MMP-level)
- Any tournament with greater than 300 registered players
Visit the USA Pickleball website for more information about tournament sanctioning and to apply for sanctioning for your event.