Log in
Northstar Challenge Court

Northstar Challenge Court is a competitive pickleball format created by the North Star Pickleball Association in which players move up and down courts depending on their performance after each round of an 8-round session. Players will play with different partners and against different opponents each game.


Each week, players arrive at their NSPA Challenge Court event and check in by the designated time.

Northstar coordinators will enter their name into the randomizer and run the app. The Northstar Pickleball Randomizer application will randomly order all players regardless of current ranking and assign them a number. Players will be assigned that number for the entirety of play that day. Their assigned number will assign them to a court position. Northstar coordinators will identify the court numbers and positions at the beginning of each week.

Court Numbers

Courts are numbered by coordinators based on the number of players and courts available. The number of courts used is based on the number of active players divided by four (throw out any remainders in the equation. Court 1 will be the highest (kings court) and court with the highest number will be the bottom court.

Example of six court facility with 24 or more players:

Court 1 - Top Court

Court 2 – 2nd Court

Court 3 – 3rd Court

Court 4 – 4th Court

Court 5 – 5th court

Court 6 – 6th court

Court Positions

Court positions are the placement on the court where each player is assigned. Positions are randomly selected at the beginning of each week and are standardized after each game. Northstar coordinators will assign top sides and bottom sides to each court before play begins. More detail is provided in the gameplay section.

Example using 18 players after they have been through the Northstar Pickleball randomizer:

Different facilities have different configurations and different numbers of courts. Northstar Challenge Court setup will need to be adjusted slightly for different court layouts and locations. Please refer to your Northstar coordinator for more details.


Once the starting positions have been established, players will report to their position on their designated court and await the start of the day. Northstar coordinators will ensure all players are in their correct positions and ready to play before beginning the round. Players will play 8 rounds that are 12 minutes each and after each round, they will either move up a court or down a court depending on their score at the end of the round. After 8 rounds the session is over.


Northstar coordinators will start each round by beginning the timer and announcing the start of the game. Once they announce the start, play must begin. The player in the serving position on the “top side” of the court will begin the serve.

Players will play according to normal pickleball rules and regulations. Play is unofficiated and players will call all of their own balls according to the USA Pickleball rulebook. Any disagreements will be settled by the Northstar coordinator, and those decisions are always final. Play is not to stop during a round for any reason. There will be no timeouts and the 12-minute clock will run continuously. In the case of a medical emergency, the Northstar coordinator can overrule and pause the clock. All play must be paused during that time. Appropriate time in between each round will be determined by the Northstar coordinator and breaks can be taken at that time.

The round will continue until the clock runs out, regardless of score. The score continues until the time is up. Teams will quickly change sides in multiples of 6 points. Once any team reaches 6 points, the teams will quickly switch sides. If any team then reaches 12 points, the teams will quickly switch sides again, and then again at 18, and so on.

The round ends when the 12 minutes are up and the coordinator calls time. If teams are in the middle of a point, they are permitted to finish the point and then their score is final. In the event the score is tied when time is called, teams will play 1 more point. The serve will continue in the order it was at the end of time, but the following point will determine the winner (rally score). A typical Challenge Court event will run for 8 rounds.


When winners and losers are determined the players rotate and get into position for the next round. The winners will move “up” a court and the losers will move “down” a court. Once players have rotated to the next court, they must split up and be on opposite teams. The player with the higher number (the random number assigned at the beginning) will occupy the top side and the player with the lower number will occupy the bottom side. These will be the starting positions for the next round.


If there are players on the bench, they will rotate into the bottom court using the same formula having the higher number go to the “top side”, or if there is only one player on the bench, they go to the “top side”. When the bench is in play, the loser of the bottom court will occupy the bench for the next round. IF there is only 1 player on the bench, one player from the losing team of the bottom court will take the bench. If one player has occupied the

Example of round rotation with the highlighted teams being the winners of the round:

League Play

Challenge Court can also be used as a league format. Points are calculated per a player’s performance in a given day and tabulated throughout the league and winners are determined by total league points.

Challenge court league is always played in 8 rounds and run the exact way described above. Players are randomized at the beginning and play out each day with that number assigned to them. Coordinators will randomize players at the beginning of EACH WEEK. Scores are not calculated for the first four rounds of play, but only taken from the last four rounds of an 8-round event. Absences collect zero points. Players could be on the bench for up to 4 rounds depending on performance

The points are given to each player in the following way.  These are based on where you BEGIN each round:

Copyright © North Star Pickleball Association
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software