Two of the pickleball’s dominant regulatory bodies have combined forces to help bring even more support and competition to the game.
You all know the background of Pickleball, so fast-forward to 1984. That was when the United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA) was created to facilitate the growth and advancement of the sport on a national level. As time went on, the sport did indeed develop, with manufacturers of official pickleball equipment releasing ‘regulation’ gear, and tournaments started taking place all across the country. While the nature of the sport can and often is very fast-paced and competitive, it can also be played at a much slower pace, as there is a pace for everyone.
Amazingly, the sport made its way into the Arizona Senior Olympics in 2001. What once was considered a fun and casual backyard game between friends had grown into a popular sport for people of all ages to participate in.
Things are Getting Serious – USAPA and PPF Merge
With any sport, a certain level of competitive spirit is to be expected, and pickleball is certainly no exception. While many players enjoy the playing the game recreationally, playing with friends and family, there are others that take the game quite seriously. As a new breed of pickleball player emerges, so does the ‘professional’ pickleball player, categorized as someone with a 4.5 or greater pickleball skill level. This elite group of pickleball players competes in tournaments all across the United States both for prizes and bragging rights.
The newly-formed Professional Pickleball Federation was created to expand playing opportunities for top-level pickleball players. In addition to creating more of a competitive landscape for advanced pickleball players, the PPF has been actively pursuing sponsorship opportunities to support a ‘Pro Tour’ in 2017. With this new organization’s bold ambition, it only made sense to partner with the well-established USAPA. In July of 2016, the USAPA announced its partnership with the PPF, a match that is sure to push the sport to higher levels of competition and public awareness.
While both organizations share the common theme of pickleball, they differ in that the USAPA is more for everyone, and serves as a resource to find pickleball courts, amongst other things. PPF was more geared towards the serious pickleball enthusiast: those which play at highly competitive levels. With both organizations joining forces, it creates a stronger baseline for the sport of pickleball in general. Recreational players can still play as much as they like to, and competitors will find more challenging matches and more tournaments in which they can show off their skills.
What does this mean for Pickleball?
Well, since both the USAPA and PPF have similar goals in that they both would like to see the game make progress both in skill level and with media coverage; this only means good things for the sport. While the everyday pickleball player can still play at their own leisure, those who wish to pursue a more serious role in the sport are certainly in a better position to do so.
Combining forces means that the pro-oriented PPF will have access to more resources, namely the constantly growing list of confirmed pickleball playing areas designated by the USAPA. On the other hand, players who are just realizing that their talent is that of a serious competitor will find more events and tournaments to compete in, and more high-level players to compete against. It truly is a match made in pickleball heaven, as players of all skill levels can now enjoy the sport more than ever.
With a tighter-knit organizational structure, the marriage of USAPA and PPF means more opportunity for all pickleball players, no matter their skill level. This also means that the general public will experience more exposure to the game, sure to encourage healthy growth and a greater interest in the sport. As people gravitate to the sport, more and more tournaments will be created, a healthy competitive spirit will be encouraged, and most importantly, people will be outside, exercising and having fun.
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