Pickleball is going pro — and proving it’s unlike any other sport in the U.S.
Major League Pickleball revealed its 2023 format and schedule, bringing the league to five locations in the southern half of the U.S. and dishing out $5 million in prize money and payouts to its players.
- The league will draft 24 teams of two men and two women on Thursday in Las Vegas.
- The first 48 players drafted will form 12 teams that play at the Premier Level, while the second set of 48 will play in the second-tier Challenger Level.
- The teams will play a three-event season, then switch levels and redraft players for a second season.
The first season will consist of events in Arizona, Florida, and Southern California, respectively in January, March, and June. The second season will start in Georgia in September, followed by events back in California in November and December.
Starting with the 2024 season, Major League Pickleball will introduce a promotion/relegation system between its two levels.
MLP isn’t the only game in town: Five nationally ranked male and female pickleball players have joined the National Pickleball League, which will launch in 2023 for people aged 50 and over.
Pickleball has impressive gender and age diversity. Among all pickleball players, 29.6% are over the age of 55 — and of those who play eight times or more per year, 51.9% are over 55, according to USA Pickleball.
Women account for 40% of pickleball players.