Parenteau Pickleball

Hold on, There's a Pro Pickelball Handbook?

When a player decides to enter a pro event on the PPA Tour, that player is subject to all the rules and regulations of the PPA, much like the rules that other professional sports leagues such as the ATP, NFL, and NBA enforce with their players.

But what does that mean? 

Well, according to rule 2C of the PPA Tournament Handbook, “By registering for and participating in any event organized or sanctioned by the PPA, Players consent to and agree to comply with the Handbook, including but not limited to all amendments thereto.”

It's a little legalese-heavy, but the long and the short of it is, players are required to have knowledge of the official PPA rules. There are fines, there’s discipline, there are warnings and suspensions, and all sorts of things listed as "do nots" from smoking and drinking to gambling.

Think of it this way, the 2023 PPA handbook is like the talk you get from your parents before you head out with your friends.

The rules are here. They’re outlined for you and, like them or not, they're helping make pickleball take a step into the big leagues of the sports world. So learn them, use them, understand them. You don’t have to love the rules, but you've got to respect them, even if some of them feel a bit like overkill. 

Have a seat and we'll run you through some of the most interesting and potentially drama-inducing rules listed.

Let’s start with the dress code.

Players can’t wear too much clothing (Rule 3A-1) and players have to wear enough clothing (3A-2). What's that mean exactly?

Well, you can’t wear sweatpants if the temperature is above 60 degrees (Rule 3A-1), but you can wear leggings. If clothing isn't deemed to provide adequate coverage, there's a chance that a referee or the tournament director may ask you to change (Rule 3A-i).

So, basically, dress in typical athletic apparel. Sounds simple enough.

More interestingly for doubles, Rule 3A-3 states, “Players shall make best efforts to match or color coordinate with their tournament partner.”

Well, it's not a hard and fast rule, but this is one that might be hard to pull off consistently as players seem to be continuously cycling through new partners. However, the look of partners wearing matching outfits undeniably has appeal and captures extra attention. If you want more fans, more sponsorship offers, and more screentime, matching with your partner may be worth it.

While the dress code may seem a bit unnecessary, some of the other rules listed most definitely ARE necessary. For example, when it comes to paddles.

Every paddle has to be compliant. Every paddle has the right to be challenged. Every challenge and test is transparent. Rule 3B-5 says, “All tests will be reported, recorded, and signed by all players in the match under question. The PPA will keep digital records of each test.”

And here’s where it gets interesting. Want to challenge someone’s paddle? OK, you can. A challenge can be made to the referee during a timeout or between games and the challenged paddle can stay in play until the conclusion of the match. Surface testing of the paddles is done onsite after the match.

If a challenged paddle turns out to be good to go, the challenger is fined $250. If a player has three offenses in a 180-day period where he or she is challenging a paddle and the paddle challenged ends up being compliant, the challenger faces suspension by the PPA Tour.

But if a challenged paddle fails, that player or team is required to forfeit the completed match. If a player is caught twice in 180 days with a non-compliant paddle, well, that player will get some time off, earning a 90-day suspension. A player who is caught three times in 180 days faces indefinite suspension.

Now, here’s the portion of this piece where we learn what the tour doesn’t want players to do.

  • Don’t - receive coaching during a match, except during timeouts, change of sides, or between games (Rule 3D-i). 
  • Don’t wear a smart watch during a match (Rule 3D-ii). That includes during warmups before a match, too. A player can’t use phones, headphones, or any wearable or non-wearable electronic device.
  • Rule 5E-ii says no drugs or alcohol during PPA events. OK. makes sense.
  • Rule 5E-iii says players should not violently or dangerously hit, kick or throw a ball while on the grounds of a tournament site. Same thing goes with the paddle. Don’t throw it or be violent with it. Seriously. It could cost you $2,500. That kinda makes sense.
  • Don’t flip anyone off (Rule 5E-viii). This could cost you up to $2,500.
  • Don’t bet on pickleball (Rule 6). Well, yeah. Fairly obvious.

That’s not everything, but just because we didn’t mention it here, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Want to read the entire player handbook? Check it out here.