Ladder Formats

The Ladder competition format has been presented by KNLTB, The Netherlands.

What is a Ladder system?

This format sees all players placed in a ladder, one on top of the other. Players challenge each other. If a player lower down the ladder beats a higher placed player, they change places – the lower, winning player moving up the ladder.

1 session or 1 day 10-20 players per ladder Singles
9/10 years or older Individual Competitive

Structure of a Ladder competition

The following are some key tips for organisers:


A maximum of 20 players per ladder is recommended. If more than 20 players, create a Division 1 Ladder and a Division 2 Ladder.


Choose a scoring format. Best of 3 tiebreak sets works well. Players score their own matches.


A ladder is displayed in the club showing all the player names, when players win a match against somebody above them – they switch places on the ladder. A notice board can be used to display the ladder or a purpose mde ladder created.


The organiser should set a start and finish date for the ladder, giving at least 3-4 months in time e.g start on 1 May and finish on 1 September. Players must organise with other players to play matches in their own time. Players challenge each other in order to move up the ladder.

As an example, for a ladder that has 20 players, 20th-15th place can challenge players a maximum of 4 places above them, 15th - 5th placed players can challenge players 3 places above and 4th-1st can challenge 2 places above.

Players should not refuse a challenge from a player below. If players continue to refuse challenges or are unable to play matches they should be removed from the ladder or moved down a set number of places. It is important to encourage competition at all times and highlight the benefits of playing everyone within the ladder system.


The winner is the person at the top of the ladder on the finish date the organiser set. If the organiser is running a number of ladders, the top 3 players in ladder could each be promoted and the bottom 3 relegated. This is similar to how league competitions work.


The advantages of both previous systems are combined in this system. On the top there is a very clear rank order visible. In this system it is possible to place a lot of players.


Like all the other challenge systems, this system depends on the involvement and participation of the players.

  • Timescale – The players choose who and when they are going to play. The challenge systems are generally drafted so that they can be played over a long period of time.
  • Participants – maximum 60.

This is combination of both previous systems: a pyramid with on top a small ladder. On the bottom part the rules for the pyramid system apply. For the ‘chimney’ the rules for the ladder system apply (not challenging more than two ranks up).

Adapting the Format

Many formats can easily be adapted to suit players e.g. aged 10-and-under, mixed ages, teams and to be a more or less competitive event. To understand more about how to adapt competition to suit to the needs and lifestyles of the player, click here.

Applying Themes

Many competitions are more fun and easier to promote if they have a theme such as Davis Cup, Olympics or Family Day attached. To understand more about how to apply themes to competitions, click here.

EXAMPLE Ladder Competition

Click below under 'Related Links' for an example Ladder Competition format, including a sample to use.

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