Pickleball may have been invented in the mid 1960s, but the sport’s Gold Rush is happening as we speak, before our eyes. Seemingly every week there’s another press release from an organization in the sport, or a new organization hanging up its hat and getting in on the craze, and it can be hard to keep up.
This post is a handy guide to the organizational acronyms you may see making press releases, and to organizations that we’ll be covering in this column. Hopefully I don’t forget any; after all, by the time you read this post, another Pickleball organization may have cropped up.
I’ll divide these into four categories: Governing Bodies, Professional Organizations, Tournament-running organizations, and Ranking Systems.
- USAPA: United States of America Pickleball Association. A 501(c)3 and self proclaimed National Governing Body (NGB) for the sport in the USA. I say “self proclaimed” because Pickleball is not yet a USOPC-recognized sport, but their role in the sport as a sanctioning body and rules coordination group is well-established. Sometimes also referred to as USAP/USA Pickleball.
- IFP: International Federation of Pickleball. Meant to be affiliated with the IOC as the international representative of the sport, but not officially recognized as of this point.
- WPF: World Pickleball Federation, founded as a competing organization to the IFP when angst over the direction and control of IFP festered over with some of the principals and organizations.
There was an excellent article in SI in May of 2022 discussing the competing/feuding IFP-WPF issue.
- APP; Association of Pickleball Professionals, the first professional pickleball tour, founded in early 2020 by Ken Herrmann, remains independently owned with a focus on up-and-coming Pros, Senior Pros, USAPA sanctioning, and the Amateur experience.
- PPA: Pro Pickleball Association, founded within weeks of the APP in early 2020 by Connor Pardoe, since acquired by Tom Dundon and since partnered with MLP. Has leveraged its financial resources to sign most of the sport’s players to exclusive contracts for 2023.
- MLP: Major League Pickleball, founded in Sept 2021 in Austin by Steve Kuhn. Using a format not dissimilar from World Team Tennis, teams of players compete in weekend-long events. MLP now has dozens of famous investors and has partnered with PPA for the 2023 season.
- NLP: National Pickleball League, a new organization started in Dec 2022 by leading Senior pros Rick Witsken and Beth Bellamy, emulating the MLP team competition format for Senior Pros.
Tournament Operating Organizations
- WPT: World Pickleball Tour, which has created an Amateur-focused Tour with dozens of events planned for 2023 along with a year-end $175k championship.
- APA: Amateur Pickleball Association, a relatively newer organization that has created a national set of events with a focus on juniors/Collegiate players.
- NP: National Pickleball, a tournament-organization group affiliated with the Advanced Sports Media group that has more than 20 events planned for 2023.
- WPA: World Pickleball Association, which sounds like a NGB but which is more of a fledgling tournament promoter with a handful of 2023 events planned.
- WPC: World Pickleball Championships, which is a fledgling international competition series based in Bonita Springs, FL. Confusingly, the PPA is using the acronym “WPC’ as well to refer to a set of invitational tournaments it is running in 2023.
- DUPR: Dreamland (now Dynamic) Universal Pickleball Rating. It is a modified ELO algorithm that rates players on a scale from 2.00 to 8.00 and has multiple factors. The rating is the rough equivalent of your skill rating (meaning, if you have a DUPR of 4.3, you’re probably a mid-level 4.0 tournament player). Ranks every player in the world on the same scale, irrespective of gender, does not top out at 5.0 for pros.
- UTPR: USA Pickleball Tournament Player Ratings. Created for USAPA in conjunction with Pickleball Tournaments, this is the official USAPA rating that determines eligibility for tournament divisions and is the ranking used to “order” entrants in divisions on Pickleball Tournaments event pages. The ranking “rounds” down, meaning if you have a UTPR of 3.9, you’re classified as a 3.5 player for tournaments.
- WPR: World Pickleball Ranking. Sponsored by Pickleball Tournaments, an algorithm based rating similar to ELO that leverages all the results for a player in Pickleball tournament’s databases. WPR roughly calculates your Skill Level (3.5, 4.0 etc) and tracks its journey based on tournament results. Unclear if this is being phased out
- GPR: Global Pickleball Ranking. Sponsored by Pickleball Global, less of a ranking and more of a Standing system based on cumulative results. Data out of date, does not have top Pros ranked #1, costing it credibility.