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Is Pickleball a Professional Sport? If So, How Much Do Pickleball Pros Make?

A group of young people playing pickleball on the court.

Pickleball is a rapidly growing sport across the U.S. The sport offers the opportunity for people at all levels to learn how to play, to improve their skills, and to compete in tournaments. Some people play singles matches, while others play in doubles matches.

The fact that pickleball does not yet have the same amount of national media coverage as some other sports is likely to lead some people to wonder if it has a true following. Do you wonder if pickleball has reached its peak already or if it is still a growing sport? Perhaps you want to know if it is a professional sport, and if so, how much do professional pickleball players make each year?

How Do I Learn to Play Pickleball?

Adult woman focused in playing pickleball.

Have you watched friends, neighbors or family members play pickleball? Perhaps you want to join in the game because everyone seems to have fun playing the sport, but you do not know how to play pickleball. The first time that I watched a pickleball game, I thought that it looked like a cross between tennis and badminton.

My assumption was not too far off from the real game. Pickler and USA Pickleball created a series of videos for pickleball players, including one titled, “What is Pickleball?” Stacie Townsend, the narrator and the Pickler founder, explains that pickleball is a mix of table tennis, tennis, and badminton.

So, you are right if you took one look at the pickleball court and thought that it looked similar to a tennis court. You have the option of playing with a single partner, or being a team partner in a doubles pickleball match. The doubles match is the most common way to play pickleball.

The video provides easy-to-understand, yet comprehensive information about how to play pickleball. You do not have to play on the traditional pickleball court. Some neighborhoods still do not have designated pickleball courts in their parks or recreation centers.

You can easily set up a match in your driveway, a nearby gym, or other community location. Watch the video “What is Pickleball?” The video features players who are playing on a designated court.

Once you learn the basics, including basic pickleball terms, how to serve, who can serve, how to play, and how to score, you progress to the next step, learning tips to improve your game and new strategies. Pickleball is a paddle sport. You need a pickleball, a pickleball paddle, someone to play the game with, and a location to play the match.

Once you learn the areas of the pickleball court, including the kitchen, you are ready to play pickleball. Yes, the pickleball court has an area designated as “the kitchen.” The kitchen area is the no volley zone.

Is Pickleball a Professional Sport?

Adult man playing pickleball in court.

Pickleball Master Course by Steve Dawson ($199)

Many people likely have not seen a pickleball match, even though the sport has gained a great deal of popularity over the past several years. Do you assume that pickleball is simply a fun, amateur sport to pass time and to get some exercise? You are likely to be surprised to learn that pickleball is a professional sport.

Players compete in tournaments and play to win their share of prize money. The professional tournaments start at the local level. Players who win their local tournaments have the opportunity to compete at the next professional level.

The player continues competing in the pickleball tournament each time that they win, propelling themselves to compete in a regional tournament, and hopefully, to compete in a national tournament. Do not play a couple of matches with your family or friends and think that you have the skills to play in a pickleball tournament. A professional pickleball player likely spends many hours preparing for each tournament.

The pro circuit players know that there are important steps to take before competing in a professional pickleball tournament. Get physically fit. You cannot compete in professional pickleball tournaments if you huff and puff your way through every match.

Follow the lead of other professional pickleball players and get in good physical shape. Eat a healthy diet. Do you need help with eating a healthy diet?

Perhaps you need help to get in shape or to stay in top physical shape. Consider seeing a nutritionist or physical trainer for assistance. Hire a coach.

The right coach is not the neighbor whose skill level is equal to your own level. A winning pickleball player or another person who dedicates their professional lives to the sport is an ideal coach. A coach prepares you by pointing out your weak points and helping you to improve upon those weak points.

You benefit from the expertise of a professional to help you through the necessary drills, and to develop a winning strategy.

How Much Do Professional Pickleball Players Make?

Pickleballs and paddles on court.

Do you feel that you have the skills to become a professional pickleball player? The amount of money that professional pickleball players make is not set in stone. Several factors determine how much money professional pickleball players make, whether for an individual tournament or when considering their annual salary.

Several sources indicate that professional pickleball players make between $50k and $250k each year. The only requirement to play as a “professional” pickleball player, until recently, was to pay the required entry fee for the designated tournament. Do not expect to play in your first tournament and take home $250k.

The top pickleball players make the top salary. A considerable portion of the money that pickleball players make comes from gear sponsorship. Racket Sports World explains the breakdown of tournament prize money.

The total prize pool for the 2019 USA Pickleball National Championship was $80k. The winner of the men’s singles category and the champion of the women’s singles category each received a prize of $2.5k.

Good News for Professional Pickleball Tournament Players

Men playing Pickleball outdoors.

The Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) stated its commitment to “bringing the highest payouts in the sport of pickleball to pickleball professionals.” Professional players have the opportunity to make more money, after the announcement of the possibility of a quarterly increase, due to sponsorship, fan growth, and growth of the sport. The Professional Pickleball Association announced that, in 2022, it developed a pay per round method.

The association feels that this method allows for a wider distribution of payouts. They also believe that it encourages “higher seeded players to compete and earn paychecks.” Do you want to get a feel for tournament play, or learn about the world of professional pickleball?

The PPA Tour presents the opportunity for pickleball players of all skill levels to “Play Where the Pros Play.” A major tour highlight is professional play, with top professionals of the sport competing for top pickleball payouts.