Pickleball tournaments are becoming increasingly popular among pickleball players. This includes “the biggest pickleball party in the world”—the US Open Pickleball Championships held in Naples, Florida, which kicks off for the seventh year on Sunday, April 16, 2023. The US Open Pickleball Championships is hosting more than 3,000 pickleball players and more than 30,000 spectators over the weeklong event.
In honor of the largest pickleball tournament in the world, here are 10 tips to know if you are playing in a pickleball tournament today (like the US Open Pickleball Championships!):
- Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Staying hydrated is a challenge when you are out on the pickleball courts all day (this is particularly true if you are playing in a hot or humid climate, like Florida for the US Open Pickleball Championships). Be sure to drink plenty of water, which should start a few days before the pickleball tournament and continue throughout the end of the competition.
- Warm-Up Properly. Make sure you do a thorough warm-up before your first pickleball game, as well as each other game throughout the day. A proper warm-up will help you to prevent injury and prepare your muscles for intense activity.
- Get Plenty of Rest and Nourishment. Adequate rest and recovery are essential for peak performance—including peak performance on the pickleball court. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and, to the extent possible, taking rest days to avoid overtraining and fatigue. Also, be sure to nourish your body with healthy foods leading up to your competition, as well as between games on the day of your event. Oftentimes, pickleball tournaments can lead to long days on the court, so be sure to eat throughout the day to keep your energy levels up.
- Find Shade and Take Breaks. As noted above, pickleball tournaments can mean long days. As a result, it is important to conserve energy, find shade, and take breaks in between matches. Take advantage of any downtime you may have between matches. The tricky part is managing to stay loose and limber for that next pickleball match! So, stretch and stay loose to prevent stiffness and injury.
- Read the Rules. Be knowledgeable about the rules of the pickleball tournament, including the format of the bracket (for instance, at the US Open Pickleball Championships, if you fall into the consolation bracket, the best result you can achieve is bronze, as only the winner’s bracket can compete for gold and silver). Knowing the rules ahead of time can help mentally prepare you for the day and help you avoid any surprises on the pickleball courts. Be sure to check your email leading up to the tournament, as many pickleball tournaments will email you final rules leading up to the day of competition.
- Listen for Your Name. Many pickleball tournaments call participants via text message or over loud speakers. It is important to stay alert and either keep your phone on you and/or listen for your name to be called because failure to report to the appropriate pickleball court on time may result in a forfeit.
- Study Your Opponents. If you know who you'll be playing against in the pickleball tournament, try to scope out your opponents and study their playing style and strategy prior to stepping on the court with them. This is not always possible (and you may even only have a second to study your opponents during pre-match warm-up), but this will help you develop a game plan and be better prepared on the court.
- Play to Your Strengths and Stay Mentally Focused. One of the hardest skills on the pickleball court is identifying the right strategy to play against your opponents (and doing it quickly—before the 11th point is won!). With that said, one pickleball strategy that rarely fails is playing to your strengths. Use the strategies and tactics that have worked for you in the past. Also, the difference between winning and losing oftentimes comes down to who is mentally tougher. So, stay mentally focused on each shot, avoid distractions of what is going on around you (especially in an atmosphere like the US Open Pickleball Championships, which is the biggest pickleball party!), and stay positive (particularly, with your partner).
- Adjust to the Conditions. Every day is different on the pickleball courts. Some days, the sun is out. Other days, the wind is blowing, etc. Be prepared to adjust your pickleball game to the playing conditions on the day and use the elements to your advantage.
- Enjoy the Moment. Pickleball tournaments are an opportunity to show off all of your hard work on the court and to play the great sport of pickleball with your friends and family. Although we all want to rise to the challenge and compete, remember to have fun and enjoy the moment out on the pickleball courts! Stay relaxed, have fun, and play your best!
By following these tips, you'll be better prepared for playing a pickleball tournament today. Remember to take care of your body, stay focused, and enjoy the experience on the pickleball court.
And, don’t forget to make sure you have all of your essentials in your pickleball bag! For more on what to pack, check out Pickler’s article: Pickleball Bags: Pickler’s Top Picks & 8 Must Haves in Your Pickleball Bag.