In pickleball, players are allotted ratings, skill levels, and rankings. These are the stats of a player and define his performance and profile of how well he plays. Pickleball ratings start from 1.0 as the basic to 6.0+ as an expert or expert plus player. The levels are three, i.e., beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Pickleball rankings are global and adopted by pickleball tournaments and league associations.
As a 4.5 player, talking about pickleball ratings is like clockwork for me. Last Friday, I was playing in the local court with my friend Joey, who loves bragging about his 4.7 ratings and how soon he could play in tournaments. Everything was fine until a group of rookies bumped into us, asking what my pickleball rating was. Turns out half of the people didn’t even know what the pickleball ratings are and how they could get them!
And honestly, it got on our nerves repeating the same thing repeatedly as the crowd increased, and the stumbling block was that my friend and I still missed so many things while we tried to cover everything. So, I decided, why not just blog about it? This will help everyone on and off the court. So here I’ve compiled all the information provided on the internet and talked to some experts on the topic to give you authentic and comprehensive detail.
What is a Pickleball Rating?
The Pickleball rating is the 2-digit and 4-digit numerical presentation of the player’s performance. This is also called the players’ skill level, which starts from 1.0 and goes all over to 5.5 or even 6.0+. 1.0 is for the beginner, and 6.0 (very rare) is for the best of the best pro players.
The exciting thing about the pickleball rating is it’s controversial. There are many ways a player can be rated in pickleball, all of which are decentralized. This is where official ratings come into play. The official rating is the most authentic, but that doesn’t mean the other methods stand void. You can use several methods to gauge your performance.
There are three ways you can calculate pickleball ratings.
- USA Pickleball Tournament Player Ratings
- Dynamic Universal Pickleball Ratings
Other than the ratings, there are 3 skill levels in pickleball. You probably have heard about it because these terms are more common than the rankings. Plus, the skill level is easier to evaluate the player’s profile.
Well, pickleball is no more a US sport anymore. It has been played worldwide, so the international community has also set some ranking systems.
- World Pickleball Rankings
- Global Pickleball Rankings
- APP Rankings
- PPA Rankings
Pickleball ratings, skill levels rankings explained:
Let me brief each of them step by step.
Self-rating is exactly what it says. You rate yourself on your own. There are numbers from 1.0 to 6.0 that you can a lot yourself based on your thoughts about yourself–but hey, don’t cheat! Actually, you can’t. The USAPA has given explanations of each rating, so assess yourself based on the explanation of each rating and then a lot of it to yourself.
For self-rating, you don’t need to be a part of any pickleball club or get registered with the USAPA. Even if you play for fun, you can be your own coach, analyze your games and skills and then take a 2-digit number. You can also ask your friend to rate with whom you play the most.
Here’s a chart by the USAPA explaining all the pickleball ratings. Whether you’re rated officially or on your own, the criteria for ratings are the same. The following chart will help you weigh up your ratings.
|1.0 – 2.0
|Has just started playing pickleball. Knows the basic serving and returning rules of pickleball. Knows how to serve and play dink shot, at least. 1.0 -2.0 player is a beginner.
|Learned the scoring and fault rules. Can win against beginners. Win at least 2 rallies. Have a limited experience in pickleball. (a 2.5 player isn’t an intermediate)
|Learned slow-paced volleys. Can hit forehand shots with slow and medium-paced speed. Knows at least 5 rules and court positioning. You can hit drives and dink but lacks consistency. You can hit the third short drop but can’t get it to the depth (a 3.0 player is an intermediate)
|Learned backhand and forehand shots but still lack perfection. You’re consistent and have learned control. Can make a quick transition from the baseline to the kitchen line. Your shots are well placed where you’ve intended.
Have won at least 10 rallies. Can hit the third shot drop and drive effortlessly. Can add a variety of paces between dink shots.
|Perfectly hit the forehand shots. Backhand shots are improved but still need practice. You’ve now known many rules of pickleball. You’ve learned stacking and poaching. You may not be so perfect at it, though. You’ve overcome faults and reduced unforced errors.
You can strategize your game better by attacking an opponent’s weakness and using your strengths. You’re a pro in your dink with height, pace, placement, and depth. Become a pro in the third short drop. You can play the double games without making errors. Have worked on your footwork and can play aggressive and offensive shots.
|You’ve learned the doubles strategy and can play better as a team with proper footwork, communication, and strategies. You can play backhand shots consistently, with perfect placement and control. Your double strategy, i.e., poaching and stacking.
You can play drives, drops, volleys, spin shots, and dinks, both backhand, and forehand, without making faults. Able to block shots and is good at lob shots. Can change directions and excellent at footwork. Can better synchronize with your partner about when to move upward, forward, side-by-side, and so forth.
|You’ve learned the shake and bake strategy and executed it at least once successfully. Can play aggressively without making placement errors. No footwork errors and perfect on backhand and forehand shots. Can play and win offensive volleys and block them.
|You’re consistent in winning shots. Your dink and volleys are powerful. You’ve mastered and can execute any shot effortlessly without making faults. Have won at least 40 pickleball rallies.
|Everything is a piece of cake for you now. Rarely commits a fault and makes an unforced errors. You win all your games, at least 90%, despite who your opponents are. Can execute any double’s and single’s strategy.
2. USA Pickleball Tournament Player Ratings (UTPR)
The USA Pickleball Tournament Player Ratings or UTPR is the official ranking system in pickleball. These ratings are given to tournament players only. Pickleball official ratings are in 2-digits and 4-digits. Double-digit ratings range between 1.0-6.0, and 4-digits ratings start from 1.000 to 6.999. 4-digit ratings are more comprehensive and accurate. In contrast, 2-git ratings are compressed 4-digit ratings. For example, if your 4-digit rating is 3.967, your 2-digit rating will be 3.5. In addition, your singles rating differs from the double based on how you play individually and as a team.
How can you get UTPR?
- Play a USAPA official tournament.
- Get registered by the USAPA.
- Make your account.
Of course, you need to get yourself registered with the USAPA and play a tournament, and then you’ll access your profile at USAPA.org and check your ratings there. That’s where all the loopholes about rating dilemmas disappear because these ratings are computerized and based on your skill set, playing style, and tournaments you’ve won.
Your ratings will be public, i.e., other members will be able to see your rating. However, only those who are a member of the USA Pickleball Association can view your 4-digit ratings. Meanwhile, 2-digit ratings are public, and the general public can see them. This is a transparent way of keeping the tournaments fair, as players would only compete to the same level as theirs.
How is the USA Pickleball Tournament Player Rating Calculated?
The official pickleball ratings are updated on a weekly basis. It precisely depends on your win and loss of the game. This is called the ELO system that the Association. Each match has a maximum of 0.1 increase or decrease.
For a single play, the ratings will take the following into account.
- Your current rating
- Your opponent’s rating
- The tournament type (before Apr 2021)
For doubles, your partner’s rating will be included in yours too. If you win the match, the ratings will go up. The reverse will happen if you lose the game.
Everything was fixed into the equation nicely, except for one thing. The Tournament Type. The tournament type puts weight on the UTPR.
Your ratings will be 100% weighted if you’re playing in the sanctioned tournament.
It’ll be 0% weighted if the tournament isn’t sanctioned. Before Apr 2021, the UTPR also had an 80% weighting by the USA Pickleball medal match plus (MMP). This was confusing and made the ratings inaccurate. Now the MMP ratings are sanctioned and have a 100% weighting.
Please note the score does not affect your rating. It only depends on your win and loss %. Also, the more tournaments you play, the more your rating gets accurate.
The USAPA rating committee has formulas that they use to evaluate your ratings.
- Your Average = Your UTPR/2
- Opponent’s Average = His UTPR/2
- Calculaculating probability = 1 / (1 + 20 ^ (3(Losing Team’s Average Rating – Winning Team’s Average Rating)))
- Amount of change = (1 – Probability from Step 3)0.1
- If the tournament is sanctioned, multiply the amount of change with the applicable weight (0%/100%)
- The weighted amount will be added to the winning team and subtracted from the losing team. This is your new UTPR.
If the tournament is unsanctioned, eliminate step 5 and directly add/subtract the amount.
For doubles play, everything remains the same except the 1 and 2 steps. You’d replace them with the following
- Your average = (Your UTPR + Your Partner’s UTPR) / 2
- Your opponent’s average = (Opponent 1 UTPR + Opponent 2 UTPR) / 2
From step 3, the rest of the formula will be followed.
3. Dynamic Universal Pickleball Ratings (DUPR)
Dynamic Universal Pickleball Ratings or DUPR is a new method for rating calculation, introduced last year (2021) by Steve Kuhn, founder of Major League Pickleball (MLP). as of now, DUPR is the official rating system of the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA). DUPR is becoming popular every passing day because of three reasons:
- It’s authentic.
- Has fair formulas that include each aspect of your match.
- Applicable to any pickleball player, whether he plays recreationally or tournament.
DUPR rating starts from 2.000 to 8.000, which is the same despite gender, age, skill, and match type. It counts the scores of the match and evaluates the ratings based on that. There tow types of DUP, i.e., single play and double play. Plus, it’s free. Play a match and get the scoring OR post your score on their website www.mydupr.com and they’ll give you the ratings. Interestingly, if you’ve played a tournament, you already had a DUPR rating. Just go to their website and claim your ratings. That’s it.
How the DUPR is calculated:
DUPR uses the ELO algorithm from the last 30 single matches or 60 doubles matches. In these matches, the algorithm takes three factors.
- The points you won.
- Win, or loss
- Tournament type, i.e., sanctioned or recreational
Only those matches will be counted in which you and your opponent have the same rating or the difference is less than 1.0. This is because the rating will have negative effects. For example, if the 3.0 player is playing against a 5.0 player, he’ll have an increased rating even if he losses, and thus entire course will become unfair.
Every 90 days, the number of results gets doubled, which means you need at least 3 matches in 90 days, and the requirement of matches goes up as the day passes. So, you need the most recent matches to have the most accurate DUPR ratings.
General Pickleball Skill Levels
Enough of the formulas and maths. Let me talk about something you can relate to and understand more clearly: the general pickleball skill level. The generating ratings, “GENERALIZE” the numbers into terms. And they’re plain and often used by pickleball clubs and communities to categorize the players.
There are three skill levels:
A beginner level includes players that have just begun playing pickleball. They know the basics of the game and can hardly keep the scores. A beginner is a player who can serve, make a return, dink, drive, and volley at a slow to medium pace. In ratings, beginners are the 1.0-3.0 players. Beginners or Novice players aren’t consistent with the shots, but they know how to play them. They know court rules, basic serving and return rules, and have played just a few games.
When a beginner has learned all the basics, can keep up the score, and drive backhand and forehand (however, he lacks consistency), he’s called an intermediate. Intermediate players can play drive shots, drop, and volleys. They also know double strategies and, to some extent, are good at them. However, shots and strategies aren’t perfect and powerful.
Advanced players are the crème de la crème of pickleball. They know all the rules, strategies, and shots. Advanced players rarely make any unforced errors. Their positioning, footwork, hand-eye coordination, everything perfect. In ratings, advanced players hold 4.5 or more.
Skill level has comprehensive grouping compared to the ratings. Meaning that you can play with different skill levels in your group. For example, a 1.0 player can compete with a 2.5-level player because both lie in the beginner category. This way, a new player can have significant exposure to learning.
However, this creates a huge gap between them while staying in the same group. For example, an intermediate player may shock you sometimes because of his pace and placement, while an advanced might lack the pace. It depends on the club as well. At what level does the club move you forward, and how well can you compete with tournament players? So it’s just a player-to-player thing when it comes to skill level. You may find a vast category in a single one.
Worldwide pickleball rankings:
Other than the official ratings and skill level, there are global ratings that the authorized leagues have developed. These are:
World Pickleball Rankings
Pickleball Tournaments have developed their separate ranking system in 2021, called the World Pickleball Rankings. This is exclusive for professional players only and includes annual championship leagues and tournaments, such as Minto US OPEN Pickleball Championships, National and Tournamnent Championships, etc.
Global Pickleball Rankings
Global Pickleball is a Florida based multi-source company that holds pickleball tournaments and leagues. Last year, they worked out the formula and made their own rankings. Their rankings, like the DUPR, are free rankings, and any pickleball player around the globe can register and upload their match results.
The ratings work on the age and gender basis. This means you’ll upload the match results you had in the last 12 events, and the Organization will calculate the ratings based on that. The ratings will be purely based on your won matches. I.e., your lost matches won’t be included in your ratings.
APP ranking is a result of compounded rankings of Tour events conducted by the APP or Onix. They rank both professional and novice players, depending on their scorings and matches won. Rather than professional, APP is ideal for beginners and amateur players and provides the most accurate ratings for them. This is a breakthrough for less-skilled players because the majority of the rating systems and organizations cater to professional players and tournament members only.
PPA, a.k.a Professional Pickleball Association, as the name suggests, calculates the professional players’ ratings who took part in the PPA tours. They don’t take into account the ratings of other matches and games but rather their own. Their formula for rating is quite the same as the UTPR, though.
How to Get an Official Skill Rating in Pickleball?
If you’re a novice or play recreationally, I don’t suggest you get an official pickleball rating. The reason? It’s not free, and money isn’t the only thing they need. You need to be consistent and participate in the tournaments. And sorry to burst your bubble, but playing in the tournaments isn’t a piece of cake. You need at least 1 grands in hand, and if you lose, your ratings are already going down. So apparently, you’ll buy the loss at a great loss.
However, if you’re consistent in your game and participate in leagues, events, and friendly tournaments, you should play in the US open championships or any official tournament hosted by the USAPA.
Now, go to their page https://membership.usapickleball.org/members/newmem/registration.php?orgcode=PCKL and register yourself. Click on the register as a new member, and this page will appear:
After you select the plan, you’ll need to fill out this form, and provide the necessary information.
At the last step, you’ll be asked to do the payments and there you’ll get your official rankings as you’re now the official member of USAPA.
FAQs: Pickleball Ratings
That’s what he said!
Finally, this is the end. All of it was a jarring ride and trust me this was the most precise and to-the-point I could get explaining pickleball ratings, levels, and rankings. Hopefully, I answered all the queries and basic concerns regarding the official and non-sanctioned ratings and rankings I received over the internet and around the local communities and courts. If you’re curious about getting yourself rated, and not in a position to play officially, I suggest getting to the DUPR, Pickleball GLObal, or APP. upload your stats and become a rated pickleball player!
See ya soon.
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