Curious how sponsorship deals work in pickleball for the top pros? This article will cover industry insider info on how player contracts work. Learn more below...
As pickleball's pro tour emerges, both aspiring and top pro players seek support for their careers. Sponsorships from athletic brands aid training, travel, and competition.
It's nice to receive gear, financial backing, and moral support as you compete!
Fans are often curious what goes into these arrangements...how much money swirls around and what the terms are. We will explore the structure of pro pickleball sponsorships, what is agreed to, what is exchanged, and what usually happens.
Typical Pickleball Contract Terms:
Sponsors sometimes, but not always, provide pro players with a base salary.
The amount varies based on factors like the player's ranking, reputation, and marketability. Ben Johns, a top-ranked pro, has likely secured a substantial base salary from JOOLA. It is rumored to be one million dollars over three years.
Sponsorships may include bonuses based on performance too, which is a great compromise for rising stars who have not yet cemented their place in the upper echelons.
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These rewards are paid for wins and increases in rank. A player might receive a couple hundred dollars per pro match win, for instance. Many players who are newly pro will get offered pay based on results, so that they are motivated to do well.
And so brands aren't stuck paying out cash if the player does not do well!
The other side of the coin for these deals involve product endorsement and placement, where players use and promote the brand's equipment, apparel, or merchandise.
These endorsements enhance brand visibility and loyalty. For example, Parris Todd is often found sporting Alo, a lauded clothing brand, in her social media posts and events.
Brands want their players to be playing on center courts and on livestreams. Brands lately have also been pursuing players who have large Instagram followings. Brands even target localized ambassadors who may not play pro, but have clout in their communities.
Players, in turn, will feel gratification if a brand wants to be repped by them!
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Sponsorship length varies. Some contracts last for a specific period, like one or two years, while others are open-ended and renewable based on results and mutual satisfaction.
Top pro Kyle Yates had a long-term sponsorship agreement with Paddletek, but no longer plays with them. You see this all the time. Notable pros swap sponsors frequently. This simply occurs when brand and player can't find an accord. It's often mutual and no hard feelings.
Most pro contracts used to last two years, and almost all last 1-3 as the norm. Brands are behooved to lock players in for as long as possible, as deal costs go up each year.
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Sponsored players must promote their sponsors through social media, interviews, and appearances. Some are fined for using another brand in public.
Players are expected to play in a certain number of tournaments each year on behalf of their sponsors too. This maximizes brand exposure and product visibility. They cannot just sit back and collect checks and not show up to compete!
Many players receive a flat rate stipend per event, an appearance fee. This helps with flights and lodging. Some ask for $1-5k per event, but the lower end is much more common.
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Sponsors will often be a paddle company. Sometimes apparel. In almost all cases, they sell a product that the player can actively use.
In the case of paddles, there are a few ways to do it. The player can update the company in a personal way, just informing them how often they need new paddles, a new bag, etc.
In other cases, the brand may have a set budget or amount of paddles per month or year. Maybe a player will get $1-2k of gear per year. Other times, the company many give the player 10-15 paddles to last the year. They can use them, even sell or give away some.
Often, it's subjective and casual. Brands look better if players look sharp and are equipped.
Pickleball sponsorships are crucial for supporting pro athletes and fostering the sport's growth. Many players could not compete on the tour without financial backing.
These sponsorships include cash payments, product usage and endorsement in both real-life and online, and promotional activities such as photo shoots and community events.
Specific terms vary based on a player's results and marketability. Sponsors provide stability and resources, enabling players to focus on training and improvement. This can be a mutual relationship that grows the business side of pickleball as a whole.
Pro Pickleball Sponsorship FAQ
How can I get a pro pickleball sponsorship?
Earning a pro pickleball sponsorship involves a combo of skill, visibility, and networking. Here are a few steps to increase your chances:
Develop your skills and do really well in tournaments, at least to the 4.5 level and ideally 5.0.
Leverage tournament results to build a strong online presence and engage with the pickleball community.
Network with players, influencers, and sponsors during events and establish connections.
Create a portfolio with your achievements, footage, and then submit sponsorship proposals highlighting your value to brands!
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How much money is usually involved in pro contracts?
The financial terms of pro pickleball contracts can vary widely based on several factors, including player ranking, marketability, and the sponsoring company's budget.
While specific amounts are not often disclosed (many players have a clause saying they can't talk publicly about pay), top players often receive all the apparel and gear they need, plus a base salary per month, plus some bonuses for podiums and ranking tiers.
The total figures can range from a few thousand per year to six-figure sums for top-ranked.
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Are there exclusivity clauses in pickleball contracts?
Exclusivity is common in pro contracts and is pretty much the basis for any agreement.
Sponsors seek exclusive rights to a player's appearance. These clauses prevent players from using competing brands' products during the contract period. This is to maximize their brand visibility and protect their investment in the player.
Do pickleball pros get paid even when they lose?
Tournament prize money is structured so pros win money per match, and usually you make nothing if you lose in the first round. Many pros do leave an event empty-handed or close.
Certain sponsorship deals include clauses where they pay the player an appearance fee just to show up. Top pros may then lose for extended periods and it's still ok.
Now the question is...thinking of going pro?
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