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Professional Pickleball Organizations & Tours

Overview of the professional pickleball organizations and tours

With the spread and growth of pickleball as a leisure activity it has also grown up as a sport with professional players and associations that govern the sport and associations that manage the professional tours and events.  In fact as pickleball has grown, professional pickleball organizations have popped up rivaling and competing for the same attention from sponsors and media.  Even at an international level, there are two governing boards jockeying for leadership, the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) and the World Pickleball Federation (WPF).  At a national level, the primary professional pickleball organizations to be aware of are USA Pickleball, the Association of Pickleball Professionals, Major League Pickleball, and the Professional Pickleball Association. 

USA Pickleball

USA Pickleball, also known as USAP and formerly known as USAPA, is the National Governing Body for the sport of pickleball in the U.S. and provides players with official rules, tournaments, rankings and promotional materials.  It was formed in 1984, then known as the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA).  It has been the main body behind the creation of other amateur and professional pickleball organizations to further drive pickleball as a professional global sport.

MLP vs PPA vs APP

MLP stands for Major League Pickleball.

It is a team-based league that features co-ed teams of four players each. The teams compete in a round-robin format followed by a single-elimination playoff. MLP has 24 teams divided into two levels: the Premier Level and the Challenger Level. The teams have different owners, some of whom are celebrities like Mark Cuban, Tom Brady and Heidi Klum. MLP offers up to $5 million in prize money and payouts to its players in 2023.

PPA stands for Professional Pickleball Association.

It is an individual-based tour that features singles and doubles events for men and women. The PPA has several stops around the US where players can earn points and money based on their performance. The PPA contracts some of the top players to play their events exclusively, which means they cannot play in other non-PPA tournaments except for one per year. The PPA tour is sponsored by Carvana for 2023 and the tournaments has sponsors like Hertz and DraftKings.

APP stands for the Association of Pickleball Players

It is an individual-based tour sponsored by USAP that features singles and doubles events for men and women.  In 2023 there are 16 tournaments scheduled across the USA. Since they are sanctioned by USAP, an active USA Pickleball membership is required to play in the APP tour events. The APP recently (May 24, 2023) rebranded to the Association of Pickleball Players, previously known as the Association of Pickleball Professionals.  This coincided with the launch of their new website TheAPP.global. 

MLP vs PPA vs APP

Both MLP and PPA follow the same rules of pickleball, except for one difference: the PPA does not allow a spin serve, while the MLP does. Recently, MLP and PPA agreed to merge their team leagues, as the PPA’s VIBE Pickleball League joined forces with MLP to create one unified pro pickleball league under the MLP brand name and format1. This means that all the teams will compete in MLP’s team-based format in 2023.

Both PPA and APP offer professional pickleball players to win prize money and make a living on the sport.  While these two associations have traditionally competed when they both launched in 2020, this year marks the first convergence of the tours with how USAP in conducting the National Championships.  To be eligible to participate in the 2023 National Championships, you must have played in a qualifier tournament. The qualifying tournaments are part of the APP tour.  However, the PPA tour is one presenting the actual championship. 

Currently the path forward for the APP seems a little murky.  At the end of 2022, the halted player negotiations.  While they still went forward with their scheduled 2023 events, with PPA and MLP joining forces and the PPA hosting the USAP National Championships, their place in the future is yet to be determined. In 2024, they completed the merger and coordinated their tours with MLP announcing the new tour schedule with a few less events than previously planned.

Upcoming tournament and event dates for the PPA, APP, and MLP can be found in our newsletters. In addition to these professional leagues and tours, there are several national leagues and tours for amateur players to participate.

NPL stands for National Pickleball League

The NPL is the first and only professional pickleball league for Champions Pros (Age 50+).  As of May 2023, the NPL has been official sanctioned by USAP.  

International Organizations

There are currently two main bodies on the global scale for professional pickleball organizations that are somewhat rivalries of each other: International Federation of Pickleball and the World Pickleball Federation.

IFP stands for the International Federation of Pickleball

The IFP was created as the world governing body of pickleball in 2010 by the USA Pickleball Association – USAPA (now known as USA Pickleball or USAP).  The IFP’s goals are maintaining the official rules, organizing international tournaments, and spreading the sport of pickleball across the world. One of its primary objectives has been to add pickleball to the Olympic Games.  The IFP hosts international competitions such as the Bainbridge Cup.

Starting in early 2022, the IFP has seen a lot of turmoil. In April 2022, eleven of its members withdrew their membership including USAP and Pickleball Canada.  Pickleball Canada has since joined the WPF.

WPF stands for World Pickleball Federation

The WPF was formed with a similar mission to the IFP.  They have developed an international rules book, organize international tournaments, and are promoting the sport of pickleball across the globe.  They promote World Pickleball Day on 10/10 to increase awareness of the sport.  They are also organizing their own international tournament, the World Pickleball Games in 2024. 

PFA stands for The Pickleball Federation of the Americas

The National Governing Bodies of United States, Canada, and Mexico came together to form the Pickleball Federation of the Americas (PFA) on April 20, 2023.  The PFA’s mission is to promote the growth and development of pickleball across the Western Hemisphere.  Launched as the first continental pickleball federation in the Americas with ambitions to promote and grow pickleball across North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.  While the national professional pickleball organizations of USA Pickleball (USAP), Pickleball Canada (PCO), and Professional Pickleball League Mexico (LPPM) are the founding members, other National Federations for pickleball in the Americas are encouraged to join.  The representatives from the USAP,  PCO, and LPPM will serve as the initial leadership group. Javier Regalado, the LPPM President, will serve as the first Chair of the Board of Directors for PFA.

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