As a pickleball player, it’s important to know what your skill level is. That way, you can determine how well your playing style is working for you and whether or not there are things you need to improve. It’s also a nice way of showing how far you’ve come since starting out.
Pickleball players are ranked, or rated, based on how well they play, with numerical reflections of their skills. These numbers are called pickleball ratings, but they are also sometimes referred to as pickleball skill levels.
Pickleball ratings can be anything between 1.0 and 6.0+, with beginners getting a rating of 1.0 and professionals getting a 6.0+ rating. Only the best of the best players can get a 6.0+ rating. In some cases, exceptional players can even get ratings as high as 8.0, but that’s as high as ratings will go.
There are three types of pickleball ratings and they are self-ratings, USA Pickleball Tournament Player Ratings, and Dreamland Universal Pickleball Ratings.
Let’s take a closer look at these ratings and how they work.
Self-Rating Using the Pickleball Rating System
Giving yourself an accurate rating is the best way to go when you’re still new to the game or aren’t interested in playing professionally. Here follows a guide on how you can use the Pickleball Rating System to give yourself a ranking.
If you are just starting to play pickleball, or are just beginning to get a good understanding of pickleball rules, you should give yourself a rating of 1.0 or 2.0. It’s the rating that everyone has to be happy with at first.
If you have a little bit of experience playing pickleball and you’re able to keep a short rally on the court, you can give yourself a rating of 2.5. You can also deserve this ranking by having a thorough understanding of pickleball rules and being able to properly keep score.
You can give yourself a rating of 3.0 if you can hit serves, forehand drives, and returns with medium pace. You can also get this rating if you’re able to hit dinks but lack good control and consistency. (This means your serves and returns still lack depth) Players with a rating of 3.0 must also be able to keep score properly and understand the rules and basic strategy of the game.
Players who can hit serves, drives, and returns with pace as well as drop shots and dinks can award themselves a self-rating of 3.5. Note that they must also be able to hit backhand shots and have some control and consistency.
To earn this rating, a player must understand all pickleball rules, have a good understanding of the basic strategy, and move quickly to the NVZ (Non-Volley Zone) line when the opportunity arises. They must be able to constantly hit serves and returns in play.
For a rating of 4.0, you must be able to hit forehand drives as well as backhand drives and serves. You must also be able to hit returns with pace and be able to handle dinks, volleys (this includes block volleys) of various speeds, and drop shots. You must have consistency and control throughout the game while understanding all the rules and the strategy of pickleball, including stacking.
Additionally, to get a 4.0 rating, you must understand how to attack any weaknesses your opponents have and have a moderate number of unforced errors.
If you want a pickleball self-rating of 4.5, you must be able to hit backhand and forehand drives, returns, dinks, serves, and drop shots. You must also be able to hit volleys with pace, direction, spin, depth, control, and consistency. This is a rating that you can only get when you’ve been playing pickleball for quite a while and understand the rules as well as the strategy of pickleball.
You must only have a limited number of unforced errors, be able to identify and attack opponents’ weaknesses and change your gameplay to benefit from those weaknesses.
Once you have mastered forehand and backhand drives as well as returns with pace, serves, drop shots, dinks, and volleys of various speeds, you can award yourself with a rating of 5.0. You must also have mastered pickleball strategy, know all the rules by heart, and have good consistency and control. It’s also important that you must be able to identify your opponents’ weaknesses and attack them accordingly.
In order to give yourself this high rating, you must be a master of pickleball strategy, master all shots, and be consistently winning at the highest level. This is not a rating you can just give yourself because you think you are good—you must be able to prove that you have the necessary skills. You must be able to play against professional pickleball players at the tournament level and defeat them.
USA Pickleball Tournament Player Ratings
Previously called the USAPA Pickleball Tournament Player Rating, this system has been developed by USA Pickleball and is aimed at determining the skill levels of any player. The UTPR (USA Pickleball Tournament Player Rating) is there to keep games fair and prevent players from playing down in skill level to secure a win and rope in medals.
Because this rating is more serious, it is more accurate and reliable than self-ratings. With that said, these ratings are only available for pickleball players who take part in tournaments. As such, many players don’t have a UTPR and only have a self-rating.
This rating is based on a player’s performance in tournaments, and the players must also be USA Pickleball members to receive a rating. The rating does not take age into account, meaning it may have some age bias, unfortunately.
UTPRs are between 0.000 and 6.999, making it possible to have more reliable skill determination. A four-digit rating is available for viewing by players and is mainly used to seed tournaments.
A two-digit rating, which is based on the already awarded four-digit rating, is available for viewing by the public. The four-digit rating is rounded down, so if a player has a four-digit rating of 4.212, their two-digit rating will be 4.0.
Players are also awarded different ratings for mixed doubles, singles, and gender doubles.
The UTPR is calculated every week and can increase or decrease, depending on a player’s losses and wins. How much the rating is decreased or increased is affected by various factors, such as:
- The opponent’s ratings
- The player’s current rating
- The player’s partner’s rating
- The type of tournament
Dreamland Universal Pickleball Ratings
This is a relatively new rating system for pickleball players and isn’t as common as the UTPRs or self-ratings. DUPR (Dreamland Universal Pickleball Ratings) is the official rating system of the Professional Pickleball Association.
This system is different from the UTPR in many ways, such as taking into consideration recreational games as well, to calculate skill levels, which is quite unique.
This rating system also takes into account every single point scored, including those scored in non-official games. During doubles matches, DUPR awards a higher weighting to the weaker partner’s skill level.
Also, there is only one rating awarded to players, whereas the UTPR awards a gender double rating as well as a mixed rating.
Now that you know all about how pickleball ratings work, you can give yourself a rating as a reward for the hard work you put in. Although it can be a bit difficult to remain biased, you should give yourself an honest rating, or ask a trusted friend for an accurate rating. It’s best to be humble and impress other players with your skills than to oversell your abilities and look silly.