How to Get into Major League Pickleball: A Clear Guide to Achieving Your Dream

Major League Pickleball (MLP) is a professional pickleball league that combines the creativity and athleticism of ping pong with the strategy and team play of pickleball. 

It is the first and only professional pickleball league in the world, and it features 24 hometown teams competing across six bombastic events nationwide for up to five million dollars in prize money.

Each team consists of two men and two women, and team members are chosen via a dual snake draft designed to make teams as competitive as possible. The league is played on a central stadium court, and all matches are streamed live for fans to watch.

The league has a unique scoring system, which includes a 2-2 tie triggering a singles format tiebreaker. 

Teams play two matches daily for the first three days and their seventh match on the fourth day. The top two teams then advance to the Picklebowl on the final day.

How to Get into Major League Pickleball

To get into Major League Pickleball, players must have a certain level of skill and experience. They can start by playing in local tournaments and working their way up to regional and national competitions. Scouts from the league attend these events to identify talented players and invite them to try out for the league.

MLP also offers a developmental league, called Minor League Pickleball (MiLP), for players who are not yet ready to compete at the professional level. 

This league allows players to hone their skills and gain experience, intending to eventually make it to the big leagues.

Skills Required for Major League Pickleball

To become a professional pickleball player, one must possess a combination of physical fitness, strategic thinking, and mastery of pickleball techniques. Here are the three main sub-sections:

Physical Fitness

Professional pickleball players must be in excellent physical shape to endure long matches and maintain their performance throughout the game. 

They must have the strength to hit powerful shots, the speed to move around the court quickly, and the stamina to play for an extended period of time.

Players should focus on developing their cardiovascular fitness, agility, and strength through a combination of exercises such as running, weight training, and plyometrics. They should also stretch regularly to improve their flexibility and prevent injuries.

Strategic Thinking

Pickleball is a game of strategy and tactics. Players must be able to analyze their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, anticipate their moves, and adjust their game plan accordingly. 

They should also be able to communicate effectively with their partners and make quick decisions on the court.

Players should study the game and learn from experienced players to improve their strategic thinking skills. They can also participate in practice matches and tournaments to gain real-world experience and develop their game sense.

Mastering the Pickleball Techniques

Pickleball requires a combination of different techniques such as serving, volleying, dinking, and smashing. Players must master these techniques to be able to execute them accurately and consistently during the game.

Players should practice regularly with a partner or a coach to improve their pickleball techniques.

They can also watch instructional videos and attend training camps to learn from experienced players and coaches.

Joining a Local Pickleball Club

Joining a local pickleball club is a great way to get started in the sport and begin working towards becoming a professional player. 

Most cities have a local pickleball club that offers beginner clinics, open play sessions, and tournaments. Joining a club provides access to other players at different skill levels, which can help improve your skills.

A quick online search for “pickleball club near me” will provide a list of options to find a local pickleball club. It’s important to research and read reviews of the club to ensure it aligns with your goals and skill level. Some clubs may be more competitive, while others may focus on recreational play.

Joining the club of your choice is the next logical step after finding the right club for you. Club membership costs can range anywhere from $20 to $100 annually. Membership has many benefits, including access to courts and other players and discounts on clinics, tournaments, and equipment.

Most clubs offer beginner clinics. These clinics are fantastic for learning the fundamentals of the game of pickleball, such as the rules, scoring, and basic strategies. They also allow newcomers to the game to mingle with one another and get their feet wet in a low-key setting.

Most clubs also provide open play sessions, where members can come and compete against others of similar skill, in addition to clinics. You can meet other players and hone your skills at the same time.

Many clubs hold annual tournaments. These tournaments are a great way to compete and improve your skills.

Participating in Tournaments

Participating in tournaments is an important step towards getting into Major League Pickleball (MLP). Players can participate in several sanctioned tournaments nationwide to improve their skills and gain exposure. 

MLP offers three sanctioning options: No-Referee, MMP, and Standard sanctioning. Tournament Directors who apply and receive sanctioning must meet and abide by all the sanctioning requirements, and players who participate in a sanctioned event are eligible to receive the benefits associated with sanctioning.

Players can use the USA Pickleball website to find sanctioned tournaments in their area. The website provides a comprehensive list of upcoming tournaments, along with information about the tournament format, registration details, and contact information for the Tournament Director.

It’s important to note that players must be members of USA Pickleball to participate in sanctioned tournaments. Membership provides players with several benefits, including access to sanctioned tournaments, discounts on pickleball gear, and liability insurance coverage.

Players should be aware of tournament rules and regulations when participating in tournaments. MLP tournaments are divided into two seasons of three events each.

In the first season, 12 teams will compete in the MLP Premier Level, and 12 will compete in the MLP Challenger Level, with rosters consisting of two men and two women.

Players should also know the different tournament formats, including singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. Each format has its own unique rules and strategies, so it’s important to practice and prepare accordingly.

Players can improve their skills by practicing with experienced players and attending clinics and workshops in addition to tournaments. Top pro players and influential team owners lead MLP’s year-round clinics and workshops. 

Getting Scouts’ Attention

Players must display their talent and skills to catch the attention of scouts. Scouts are always looking for players who can add value to their team and help them win games. Here are some suggestions on how to catch the attention of scouts:

  • Attend Major League Pickleball events: Attending Major League Pickleball events is a great way to catch the attention of scouts. A team is more likely to draft a player who performs well at these competitions. It is also an excellent opportunity to network with other players and coaches.
  • Making a highlight reel is an excellent method of showcasing a player’s abilities and talents. The highlight reel should showcase the player’s finest on-court moments, such as their most impressive shots, serves, and volleys. It should also highlight their sportsmanship and teamwork skills.
  • Develop a unique playing style. Developing a unique playing style can make a player stand out from the crowd. Scouts are always looking for players who bring something new to the game. Scouts are likelier to notice players who can play aggressively, strategically, or creatively.
  • Maintain a good attitude: Maintaining a good attitude on and off the court is essential. Scouts are not just looking for players who can play well but also those who can work well with others. A team will likely draft respectful, coachable, and positive players.
  • Participate in local tournaments: Participating in local tournaments is a great way to gain experience and exposure. There is a greater chance that scouts will notice players who perform well in these competitions. It is also an excellent opportunity to compete against other players and improve skills.

Applying for Major League Pickleball

Applying for Major League Pickleball (MLP) is a straightforward process requiring some preparation. 

Make sure you meet the eligibility criteria 

According to the MLP website, players must be at least 18 years old and have a minimum rating of 4.5. If you meet these requirements, you can proceed to the next step.

Create a player profile on the MLP website 

This profile should include your name, contact information, playing history, and any relevant achievements. Making your profile as detailed and comprehensive as possible is essential to increase your chances of being selected in the draft.

Apply for the draft pool 

The draft pool for the 2023 season opens in December 2022, and you can submit your application through the MLP website.

The application process will likely involve submitting additional information, such as videos of your gameplay or references from other players or coaches.

Wait for the draft to take place 

The draft is a dual-snake draft, which means that teams take turns selecting players in a serpentine pattern. Each team consists of two men and two women, and the draft is designed to make teams as competitive as possible.

If you’re selected in the draft, you’ll receive an offer to join an MLP team. At this point, you’ll need to negotiate your contract and sign it with the team. Contracts typically include compensation, playing time, and other terms and conditions.

Training and Improving Your Skills

To become a professional pickleball player, one must have exceptional skills and abilities. This section will discuss some of the best ways to train and improve your skills in the game.

Hiring a Coach

Finding someone with experience in the game and a good track record of coaching is essential when looking for a coach. Finding someone who is a good fit for your personality and learning style is also important.

Regular Practice

Practicing regularly helps you develop muscle memory, which is essential for executing shots accurately and consistently. It also helps improve your stamina, speed, and endurance.

When practicing, it is important to focus on specific skills and techniques, such as serving, volleying, and dinking. It is also important to practice with different partners to improve your ability to adapt to different playing styles.

Learning from Professionals

Many resources are available for learning from professionals, including instructional videos, books, and clinics. It is important to choose resources that are reputable and reliable.

Staying Committed and Persistent

Getting into Major League Pickleball is not an easy task. It takes time, effort, and dedication to the sport. Players need to stay committed and persistent to achieve their goals.

Set realistic goals 

It is important to set goals that are achievable and measurable. For example, players can set a goal to improve their serve or their backhand. By setting these goals, players can track their progress and stay motivated.

Practice regularly

Practice is key to improving skills and gaining experience. Players should practice different techniques and strategies to become well-rounded players. It is also important to practice with different partners to learn different playing styles.


Players may encounter setbacks or obstacles along the way, but they must keep moving forward. Learning from mistakes is one way to stay persistent.

Players should assess their performance and identify areas for improvement. Players can adjust their strategies and improve their performance by learning from their mistakes.

Seek feedback from coaches and other players

Feedback can help players identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments. It is important to listen to feedback with an open mind and use it constructively.

Stay committed and persistent is crucial in getting into Major League Pickleball. Setting realistic goals, practicing regularly, learning from mistakes, and seeking feedback can help players achieve their goals and become successful players.


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