Why Major League Pickleball is the future of the sport.
The stakes were high and the pressure palpable. There were joyful moments of victory and painful moments of defeat.
Big smiles and sorrowful tears. Witty banter and competitive trash talk.
Epic hands battles and grind it out points that left you wondering, “who’s going to make the first move?”
With $100,000 on the line — the highest payout in pickleball history — every point mattered.
Major League Pickleball (MLP) Austin was the event of the year.
It was a pickleball event unlike any other.
And don’t just take my word for it, see what three top players said about how much they enjoyed their experience.
Heres how the event worked.
12 teams. 4 players per team. Two guys. Two girls. All games to 21. Rally scoring. Each team competes against another team in a 4 game match.
Womens doubles. Mens doubles. Mixed doubles. Mixed doubles. And if it’s 2-2 after the four games have been played, it goes to a dreambreaker.
AKA: A tiebreaker — all singles — first to 21.
Each player plays four points before their teammate takes over and plays another four. And the unique thing is, women often play men in the dreambreaker format, something that never happens in regular tournament play.
So why is MLP the future of pickleball?
The Team Format.
It’s different than anything that exists in the sport today.
Because when you have four players on a team vs. two, there’s a different level of accountability and support.
There’s a psychological component of, “I don’t want to let my team down.”
There’s a leadership component of, “my teammate is losing confidence, and we need to rally and pick them up.”
There’s a pressure component of, “there’s $100k on the line. Let’s win for each other.”
There’s a strategic component, “how do we choose our team pairings to give us the best chance to win?”
There’s a celebratory component of, “we just accomplished this together! – the four of us.”
So many times throughout the weekend, after a big point, players fed off the raucous crowd. They turned to their teammates to celebrate. They were in it together — the four of them.
To put it plainly, this event was so. damn. fun to be at.
The crowd loved it and it was exciting for those at home to watch the livestream.
The players loved it because of the team atmosphere.
And I loved it because, as I sat there watching court-side for three days, I was inspired. And I caught myself dreaming.
Dreaming of one day being a player that gets drafted into MLP.
Until next time,
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