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How to Determine Pickleball Skill Level

An aerial view of pickle ball and tennis courts.

If you want to play pickleball competitively, you need to have a pickleball rating that is earned by playing pickleball competitively. In the game of pickleball, there are tournaments all over the world that honor your gameplay, and rank and rate you according to your wins and losses. This rating system is your pickleball skill level and ranges in numbers from 1.0 to 6.0.

To give you an idea on how the rating system works, very few players in the world have a pickleball skill level rating of 6.0. The professional players that win the big prizes in tournaments are typically playing somewhere between a 5.0 and a 6.0, but there are many pros with a 4.5 pickleball rating. It is all determined by your tournament results.

Pickleball players with a rating of 1.0 on the other hand are just learning how to play and the rules of the game. Determine your pickleball skill level by understanding the pickleball rating system a little more here.

There are many benefits to your game when you learn your pickleball skill level rating

A guy hit a pickleball.

The pickleball rating system is a system that tells you exactly where you stand in the game of pickleball, and this is the greatest benefit and the primary purpose of the pickleball skill level system. It defines what you are capable of in the game, and what your potential is. It tells you, your coaches if you have them, your team members if you play doubles, and your opponents how good you are in the game.

The pickleball rating system is very defined. Each level, and every half level in between levels, has a clearly stipulated set of skills and knowledge that the pickleball player with that rating must have. There are additional benefits to having and knowing your pickleball skill level and rating.

If you are interested in knowing your pickleball skill level and rating, then you are taking the game seriously and want to improve on it. That also means in many cases that you are a competitive player, and like to play in tournaments. Understanding your skill level in pickleball will give you concrete knowledge on where your game stands, and what you need to do in order to improve it.

Additionally, when you know your skill level, you will be matched with players with the same skill level that you have. It helps to even the playing field when you are playing pickleball. Your pickleball rating also helps to give you something to work towards when it comes to your own personal game.

You may play against someone with the same rating that you have, but think that your game is better. So, having this skill level literally puts you on the pickleball court and defines precisely where your game stands. You will never wonder if you are good at this game or not.

Your pickleball skill level opens doors for you. If you know that you want to be pro one day, you can watch the players with a higher rating, and see how they do it. That’s a number, and a game play, that you can work towards.

At the same time, the pickleball skill level rating puts you in the pickleball community. The pickleball community is a huge community in the United States, and is expected to have tens of millions of players in the community within a few years. There are millions more around the world.

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In addition to improving overall health, the game of pickleball helps you to develop social connections, friends, and a competitive lifestyle that connects you to players all over the world. You don’t have to have a pickleball rating to enjoy these social benefits, but it helps. Having and knowing your pickleball skill level rating tells the world where you stand in this game.

It also tells you where you stand in the game. In so many sports you don’t know how good you are until you play, and you can only use your statistics from the game to measure your skill level. Pickleball takes measuring skill to a different level, by giving you a skill level rating that tells you what you can do, and what you need to do or know in order to get better in the game.

The USA Tournament Player Ratings are the most common pickleball skill level ratings

A lady pickleball competitor looks over a tournament bracket.

The USA Pickleball Tournament Player Rating or most commonly known as UTPR is considered to be the most accurate and common rating system for pickleball players. You will get this rating through tournament play alone. You also have to be a member of the USA Pickleball association in order to get this rating.

This is the rating system from 1.0 to 6.0. The pickleball skill level rating system is defined as follows:

  • 1.0 to 2.0: Player has just discovered pickleball and is learning the game and the rules
  • 2.5: Some experience playing, rallies are short and the player has a general understanding of the rules.
  • 3.0: The player has a good forehand, can serve and return at a medium pace, can perform dinks, some consistency is needed to up the skill level. More depth needed in serves an returns.
  • 3.5: The pace is improving with this player, who can hit some drives, and has a backhand that is improving. Control and consistency in the game is being mastered and it shows in competition.
  • 4.0: The player takes the game seriously and can slam forehand and backhand drives, and can mix up the pace and speed of serves and returns. Drop shots, volleys, dinks, and all moves on the court have both consistency and control. The player is skilled in developing strategy as well.
  • 4.5: This player is one of the best and can do almost anything well in pickleball with dinks, serves and returns, volleys, spin, depth, and drop shots. This player determines the pace of every move in the game most times, and is seriously considering becoming a professional player.
  • 5.0: There is a near complete mastery of the game with this player who has both athletic talent and strategy in their game play. They will have many seemingly perfect games and know how to use opponent’s weaknesses to their favor.
  • 5.5 to 6.0: The most coveted ranking of all. This player gets this ranking after winning, and winning a lot. The win comes from mastery of the game and strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Pickleball Skill Level Ratings

How do I choose what events to compete in with my pickleball rating, can I play against any skill level?

No, you can not play against any skill level in pickleball. You must play at your skill level or higher. You can choose to play at your skill level, or you can choose to play up in skill level.

Choosing what events to play in will be part of the strategy of choosing pickleball ratings. So, if your pickleball rating is 3.0, you can play in events that are 3.0 or higher. You could play against 4.0, 4.5 or any higher skill level.

Age also plays a role in the events that you can select when playing pickleball. This rule is reverse to the skill level rule. You can play down in age, but you can not play up in age, and this is regardless of your skill level.

So, if you are 35, you can only play in tournaments where the age level is 35 or lower. You can not compete against players that are older than 35. If you are 19 years old, your options are more limited and you will have to grow and age in the sport to have more selectivity here.

At 19, you can play down in age, but not higher. There are younger players than 19, and they are the only age bracket that can play up in age, but they can not compete against players that are older than 19.

What are the beginner, intermediate, and advanced pickleball skill level ratings?

It can be easy to get confused by what the different pickleball skill level ratings mean. The lower ratings are beginner ratings, the middle ratings are for intermediate level players, and the higher ratings are for the best pickleball players that could go professional level if they want to. You may see some pickleball clubs rate with the labels beginner, intermediate, and advanced instead of number ratings.

But it is very easy to get an idea of where the UTPR ratings place from beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. The 1.0 rating is for people just starting in pickleball and getting to know the rules, and would be a beginner rating. Beginner ratings are typically from 3.0 and lower.

This is a player that is just learning the game and getting the hang of the rules. You’ll be able to serve and return, and your pace will be at the medium level pace. The intermediate skill level range is a little more narrow, and ranges from 3.5 to 4.0.

Although the numerical skill level rating here is narrow, the actual skill set is very high. This intermediate rating tells you, your coaches, and other players that you can play the game and that you have some strategy skills. It also tells the game of pickleball what some of your skills are, as this is what the rating system defines.

You are on the way to being one of the best players when you play at the intermediate level. The professional world is in sight here, if you want it to be. The advanced pickleball level is for the players who are the cream of the crop.

This is for a pickleball rating of 4.5 or higher. At 4.5, you can start thinking of being a professional, or going pro in pickleball. You’ve got the rules, your shots, and your strategy down and are among the best in the world at the advanced level.

There seems to be a lot of different pickleball rating systems, are they all the same? Which one should I follow?

There are many pickleball rating systems organized by official groups. The UTPR system is the most popular and the most widely used. There are a few other organizations you may have heard of.

  • Dreamland Universal Pickleball Ratings: Similar to UTPR but includes more tournament and recreational play scores when calculating rating
  • World Pickleball Rankings: A gold standard for professionals or players wanting to go pro
  • Global Pickleball Rankings: Based on 12 best events per year, and based on winning events, meaning your losses are not included in your ranking.
  • Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP): APP is a name you hear a lot in tournaments around the world, and the APP Standings List is something to get serious about if you want to win money playing pickleball.
  • Pro Pickleball Association (PPA): The Pro Pickleball Association is one for professionals but amateur players can also compete.