A Day in the Life of a Pro Pickleball Player

Pro pickleball player Connor Garnett mid-point at a PPA Tour event

Pro pickleball players have some of the most unique day-to-day schedules in all of sports.

Competition is more intense than it's ever been before. Sponsorships require players to provide more value than just tournament wins.

Coaching keeps us out of debt. And when you're not practicing, you're looking for other opportunities.

Add travel between pro events to the mix, and it can be pretty exhausting.

But I find it valuable to continue to build on past experiences such as investment banking and D1 college tennis to help grow and learn in my pickleball career.

How Pickleball Pros Make Their Living

The four main areas of pickleball professionals focus on practically every day include:

  1. competing in the leagues and the tournaments
  2. sponsorships (this can also be impacted by not only results but also marketability)
  3. coaching
  4. other business ventures

Starting out, I was trying to do as much of all these as I could simultaneously and seeing what stuck.

This took so much time and I made many mistakes; however, I feel like I have achieved a reasonable balance where I now can focus on my pickleball game predominantly while pushing forward in my other endeavors.

I focused on clinics and merchandise along with bringing on a team to help manage everything.

The results of these efforts can be seen on my website through "twoey" merch, my newsletter, paddles and more (if you're unfamiliar, I am known for my two-handed backhand shot).

It was awesome to see how quickly the twoey hats sold out after winning gold at the LA Open in singles.

Competition

With a growing awareness for pickleball, competition has become much more challenging and forced the leading players to raise their level.

A pro qualifying draw has expanded monumentally, and the evolution of the game's quality is exciting to see.

Therefore, it is important to make sure you have a training regimen to advance your game, stay in shape and be injury free.

Related: The Hidden Costs of Being a Pro Pickleball Player

Maintaining a schedule like this can require club memberships, travel to hotbeds of pickleball talent, paid coaching lessons, and more.

This plus tournament entry fees, travel, and lodging adds up quickly making the player that bets on himself/herself that much more impressive.

A top-down photo of a PPA Tour pro pickleball event.

Sponsorships

It is always an interesting decision seeing how people approach the question of choosing between quality or salary.

  • I have been fortunate to have ProXR pickleball by my side throughout that whole journey providing excellent paddles and looking at continued advancements of their technology.
  • Recently, Florence Marine has been another great partner providing performance wear.
  • Thorlo Socks and Luqi Grips are two more sponsors that have been great to work with.

It is important to add value to your sponsors outside of competing, and this requires time and effort looking to create content, syncing promotional calendars, conducting events, and more.

Some people in pickleball go the agent route, and this can be good for tapping into a larger network - but I have found that with my background and hands on approach, it's more enjoyable handling some of this myself and not being tied to anyone.

Everyone has a different preference here, and I have brought in some non-exclusive agents from time to time, but the freedom of being able to conduct your own business is pretty appealing to me.

Coaching

Coaching in professional pickleball is the lowest hanging fruit for pros to stay competing without going into debt.

If you can teach a few lessons a week, this subsidizes much of the costs associated with pro pickleball.

Coaching is also an awesome way to connect with people, build a fan base, and travel to different areas of the country.

I have traveled to camps and clinics all over. This allows me to explore areas I wouldn't normally get to and is an awesome way to see the country.

This does require a lot of outreach and community engagement ranging from outbound emails to clubs, coordinating schedules, and more. It is super rewarding though being able to teach and see the enjoyment of people learning and having fun on the court.

Business

The business pillar isn't as prevalent in the pro scene; however, there has been a massive influx of pickleball brands.

This allows pro pickleball players to partake in this space, whether it's opening up a club in Seattle like my dad and I did, the TWOEY merch line, or whatever else we can dream up.

This is another avenue that capitalizes on the buzz surrounding pickleball and can be a major activity in the day-to-day.

Of course, all of these activities need to be balanced against actual trainingAbout 50% of my time goes exclusively to that.

Connor Garnett - PPA Gold Medalist, Home of the Twoey and former investment banker. Everything about Connor, twoey gear, and more found on his website.

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