9 min 34 sec

Pickleball Pro Pickles Profits from Persistent Practice

A call center supervisor leans into his passion for pickleball, discovers a need for skilled tournament managers, and launches a $40,000/yr side hustle.
Community Service Sports Unique Ideas

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What It's About

A unique opportunity allows a man to bring in extra money participating in the fastest growing sport in America.

Business Model
Skills Required
Pickleball & Resourcefulness
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

If today's story is of interest to you, ask yourself—what kind of sport, league, or activity could become an income-earning side hustle? Remember that one method of learning to think this way is just being able to spot opportunities, not necessarily pursue each one.

Fun Fact

There are over 9 million "casual players" who play pickleball 1-7 timers per year, and nearly 1 million players who compete 8+ times per year in sanctioned tournaments. In 2014, NBC News declared pickleball "the fastest growing sport in America."

Notes from Chris

Episode 438

It all started in 2012, in a dimly lit room filled with highly influential local community members. Leaders were nominated, rules were set, and a new society was born… The Columbia River Pickleball Club.

Pickleball, if you don’t know, is a sport that takes place on a badminton court. A plastic wiffle ball is hit over the 34-inch net with paddles that are roughly twice the size of ping-pong paddles. It’s an accessible activity for newcomers, but it can also be a fast-paced thrill for experienced players (not your grandmother’s backyard pickleball—this sport is on the rise!).

Over the next two years, Mike took on more and more responsibility when it came to managing the tournaments around Portland, Oregon. When the 2014 (highly contested!) elections came around, Mike became the club’s president. It was not long after that Mike got the idea for his own pickleball venture—one that would be for profit.

Mike loved volunteering as a tournament manager, but he figured he’d love earning some income from the activity even more. He agreed and spent the next several months slowly creating his own business plan, website, contracts, and invoice system.

Since Mike could use his club’s supplies to get started (nets, paddles, stopwatches, coolers, and such), his launch expenses were less than $500. And in early 2016, Pickleball Is Great was born. Mike started to receive a small flow of referral inquiries over the next few months. After he received his first deposit from a client, he bought himself a two-pound porter steak dinner the next week (you know, energy for pickleball).

He offered three pricing tiers. The most basic package was a basic, well-run tournament. The next two tiers offered additional services like WiFi routers, coolers with water, trophies, equipment, and other things that hosts may or may not want to worry about.

Once a client picked a tier, he charged them on a per-player basis, which wasn’t bringing in a lot of money at the time. In 2016, his average monthly profit was just $100 after expenses, which included paying a small team of refs and organizers.

In 2017, the USAPA allowed Mike to run two “sanctioned” tournaments. Essentially, these tournaments are heavily regulated and the results go directly to each player’s official score and rank. These were huge for establishing himself as an authority and he’s looking to host at least four over the course of 2018.

And those tournaments that Mike played into a network? Nearly half of them have hired his services for 2018! The in-person networking really came through. Ace!

These days, Mike is traveling all over the American West to manage tournaments. He’s building some travel costs into the overall price, and with the rapid growth of pickleball, he’s averaging just under $2,000 in profit per tournament. His goal is to run two tournaments per month and bring in roughly $40,000 this year, but he doesn’t want to stop there.



Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"The patience required to build a solid foundation for a successful business is hard to find. Build a solid inner circle support group of people who will be honest with feedback on ideas and suggestions."
—Mike Hoxie #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau