As pickleball’s popularity grows, more organizations have become willing to sponsor tournaments. This leads to the allure of prize money, which few players will turn down. While many groups would love to be able to offer similar rewards, what if you’re a smaller venue or want to do something different to draw in participants?
Aside from cash winnings, here are some prizes or trophies you can offer winners instead of run-of-the-mill medals.
Glasses, mugs or other drinking vessels
At the recent Pacific Northwest Classic in Bend, OR winners were given glasses filled with colored paper to represent their placement (gold, silver or bronze). Aside from the interesting presentation, the glasses also had their medal color and tournament logo printed on the surface to commemorate the event.
This is a wonderful idea which allows players to show off their prowess while receiving a “medal” they can use in day-to-day life!
Refunded registration/free entry to a follow-up tournament
Sometimes the cost of entry to tournaments is not exactly cheap, especially when paired up with travel, lodging and food expenses. Returning a player’s registration fee is a great way to give them a financial break without actually having to spend money, or alternately you can offer free entry to another tournament if you’re planning more later on.
Gear or gift certificates
Soliciting businesses for cash outright can be a hard sell, especially if you’re setting up a smaller tournament or contest, but you may be able to acquire donations of a different sort. Manufacturers might donate paddles to award winners, or you can even contact local companies to see if they’ll offer gift certificates in exchange for advertising on promotional materials.
Popular options include general sports stores (for accessories and/or apparel), restaurants, specialty food shops, salons and movie theaters.
Pickleball does have an unusual name, and it can’t hurt to take advantage of it. Nalley Fine Foods was the game’s first official sponsor, after all, and they gave out jars of pickles at tournaments. Few people dislike this sour treat.
Aside from handing out the food itself, you can give away pickle ornaments, candy, mints, t-shirts or even a yodeling pickle!
There are plenty of other ideas you can explore that won’t break the bank such as tournament patches, water bottles, photos or volunteer hours. What are some of your favorite tournament awards or what would you like to see given away on the podium?