MLPlay Format

Last year I got to play in a team tournament at Chicken N Pickle and then this year I actually organized a few team events of my own. I’m really excited to see all the improvements that Major League Pickleball has made to their team format over the last year and I’m looking forward to adopting their MLPlay Rules for the team events that I will organizing next year.

Rally scoring has been limited in popularity and use because of its complexity; however, MLP has a significantly simplified version. The way that MLP does it, the partners do not switch sides when they score. Instead they just alternate serving until they lose the rally. Whenever the score is even, the player on the right serves; and whenever the score is odd, the player on the left serves.

Another unique feature of MLPlay is the concept of freezing. Even though the format is rally scoring, the team can only win on their serve. When one team reaches 20, they are “frozen” and return to traditional scoring. The trailing team also gets “frozen” and goes to traditional scoring once they hit 18. It is traditional scoring in that they can only score on their serves but each team still only serves once.

Teams consist of four players (two men and two women) and matches consist of four games (women’s doubles, men’s doubles, two rounds of mixed doubles) with an optional “Dreambreaker” game if the teams split the match 2-2. Each game is played to 21 (using the modified rally scoring method described above), win by 2, with an end change once one of the teams reaches 11 points.

The Home/Away option is another twist to this team format. At the start of each Match, there will be a coin toss (or similar random selection). The winner will elect to choose the option of selecting serve/side/receive or decide if they want to be the Home Team or Away Team for that match. If the team chooses option ONE they can choose to select the side of court to start all games in that team match or they can choose to serve/receive or they can defer to the other team. If they choose to serve/receive the other team can choose the side. If they choose a side, the other team can choose to serve or receive. If a team
chooses to pick serve/side/receive then the other team will be allowed to choose if they want to be the Home team or Away team. The teams will alternate first serve after each game.

  • HOME: The Home team will choose its mixed doubles teams last. The home team must declare first during the singles Dreambreaker game.
  • AWAY: The Away team must declare the mixed doubles teams first, but gets to go last on singles Dreambreaker player choice.

You can read the full MLPlay Rules here. This seems like a fun team format and I cannot wait to try it.

Here are some highlight videos from some of the fun team events I’ve had the wonderful privilege of being part of in the last year:

Video from the MLP-style team event I participated in at Chicken N Pickle in December 2021.
Highlights from Picklemania MMXXII – my Rotary club’s pickleball fundraising tournament.
The first Dream Team Doubles event at Ralph Wulz Riverside Tennis Center.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *