Pickleball PPA Tour: How It Works, Rules, and Pros and Cons

Est. Reading: 4 minutes

As pickleball continues to be America’s fastest-growing sport, tournaments are popping up from coast to coast. All thanks to the dedication of tireless event organizers and the thrilling pickleball tours, with the PPA Tour being one of the leading ones.

But what exactly is the PPA Tour? If you're a seasoned player, you've likely caught wind of its reputation. However, in this post, we're diving deep into the heart of this professional pickleball extravaganza. Here, we will explore how it works and the recent rule changes. More importantly, we will weigh the tour's pros and cons.

What is the PPA Tour?

PPA stands for Professional Pickleball Association and was founded in 2018 by the CEO and commissioner Connor Pardoe. Having its headquarters in Dallas, Texas, the Carvana PPA Tour is home to primarily pro players, establishes player rankings, and organizes tournaments at world-class facilities across the United States. In 2023, the PPA Tour has awarded winners over $5.5 million in prize money.

USA Pickleball does not sanction the tournaments in the PPA Tour. It means you can join them without being a member of USA Pickleball. In line with this, the tour uses DUPR (Dreamland Universal Pickle Rating) instead of UTPR to rate their amateur players. To know the difference, read our Pickleball Player Skill Ratings Guide

How Does PPA Tour Work?

Although the PPA Tour focuses more on professional tournaments, there are amateur brackets for different ages and playing skill levels. The PPA Tour usually has 25 stops in various U.S. states yearly and 26 tournaments in 2024. There are at least two events for every month, except for December. Unlike last year, no PPA event was chosen as the golden ticket to the 2024 USA Pickleball National Championships.

PPA tournaments have three categories: Slam (2000), Cup (1500), and Open (1000), including the Senior Open. The formats for pros and amateurs are women's singles, men's and women's doubles, and mixed doubles. The pro tournament has three brackets - Qualifier, Main, and Points Draws. Pro Qualifier Draw winners are seeded in the Main Draw, while losers are seeded in the Points Draw.

How Do PPA Pro Player Rankings Work?

The PPA Tour uses a unique points system to rank its pro players. These points are awarded and updated after each tournament, and the earned points during 52 weeks determine the players' ranking. At the end of each season, the ten pro players and teams who have accumulated the most points are qualified in the PPA Finals. They will compete against each other, and the winner is hailed as the PPA's Number 1 player.

Who Are The World's Top Pickleball Players?

As of February 2024, the top pro pickleball player in the world for Men's Singles is Benjamin Johns, followed by Federico Staksrud, Tyson McGuffin, Connor Garnett, and Christian Alshon. Brothers Ben and Collins Johns come first and second for the Men's Doubles. Dylan Frazier and James Johnson land as third and fourth, respectively.

Meanwhile, Anna Leigh Waters is the world's best female player in Women's Singles. Next to the 17-year-old pro player are Catherine Parenteau, Lea Jansen, Mary Brascia, and Salome Devidze. Waters made it to the top again for the Women's Doubles, followed by Catherine Parenteau, Anna Bright, Callie Smith, and Lucia Kovalova.

PPA Tour Rules

Generally speaking, the PPA Tour rules are the same as those mentioned in the USA Pickleball Official Rulebook. But for 2024, the PPA made some changes in the serve rules. For now, players should toss the ball below their waists and release the ball palm down. Note, however, that the changes are temporary and only apply to professional events. For completed details, read our 2024 PPA Tour Rules Changes Guide.

PPA Tour Merges With MLP

In September 2023, the PPA Tour merged with Major League Pickleball (MLP) to have a unified professional pickleball holding company. The said merging was backed up by a $ 50-million investment from S.C. Holdings, PPA Tour owner Tom Dundon, D.C. Pickleball Team owner Al Tylis, and MLP team owners.

The PPA-MLP merger is expected to expand opportunities for pro players and aspiring athletes. Moreover, fans of the two rival pickleball leagues can now watch individual events under the same umbrella of sports broadcasting networks, such as ESPN. More importantly, the unification will help address the issues of professional and amateur plays.

What is the Progression Draw Format in PPA?

The PPA introduced the progression draw format during the 2023 USA Pickleball National Championships. This new format applies to professional tennis and will be used in ten PPA Tour events this year. Winners can earn more ranking points since the tournaments will become more extensive.

The main difference between the old and new format is the number of matches that pro players will play on the same day. Previously, a single bracket was completed in one day, aside from the gold medal matches. But with the progression draw format, a player of the 48-competitor bracket may play up to three different events on a given day.

Under the new format, 40 spots are automatic qualifiers, while the remaining eight are for the qualifying draw. As mentioned earlier, the player ranking will depend on the number of points earned during a 52-week period. Interestingly, the schedule is more stable, which is also good news for fans since they know when the matches will be held.

PPA Tour Pros and Cons

Despite being the U.S.'s most sophisticated professional pickleball tour, the PPA Tour could be better. It may be a good place for pro players, but not exactly for amateurs. So, before joining any PPA Tour event, here are some advantages and drawbacks.


  • Huge prize money
  • Great opportunity for pro players
  • Live streaming events
  • Merging with MLP helps the sport grow


  • Fewer events for amateurs compared to other tours
  • Progression draw format can be unforgiving
  • 2024 serve rules confuse some players
  • Some complaints about amateur plays

Final Thoughts

The PPA Tour is like the heavyweight champion of professional pickleball, with big names like Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters dominating the scene. But isn't it time for some fresh faces to claim the spotlight?

And what about us regular folks? It'd be awesome if the PPA could throw some love towards us amateurs, don't you think? After all, pickleball isn't just for the pros—it's a sport for everyone to enjoy!

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