A common question I get is, “What is my pickleball rating?” ” Whether it’s someone at the local community center asking about which court they’re assigned – or someone from one of my clinics interested in playing their first tournament, I get it frequently.
Honestly, the answer to this pickleball rating question depends on who is asking. Players are merely looking for social or physical reasons to play and are simply looking for answers in the “beginner/intermediate/advanced” category.
However, tournament participants need a more sophisticated, unbiased number to place themselves appropriately in tournaments and leagues.
How to Acquire a Pickleball Rating?
There are a variety of ways to calculate pickleball ratings – some are subjective, and others are objective. The most common methods for “calculating” pickleball ratings are:
- Player Self-Assessments Using Player Skill Level Definitions (Self Rating)
- USA Pickleball Tournament Ratings (UPTR)
- Dynamic Universal Pickleball Ratings (DUPR)
You probably need a “benchmark” rating (starting score) to enter either event if you haven’t played pickleball before. Due to this, you will have to self-rate – so that you can compete in the appropriate division.
The USA Pickleball (pickleball’s official governing body) Player Skill Rating Definitions should be reviewed before self-rating. Detailed instruction is given in this document on how to achieve each level of player rating, including specific shots (forehands, backhands, serves, dinks, third shots, volleys, etc.).
USA Pickleball’s 2-digit skill rating breakdown is as follows:
- 1.0 – 2.0: Pickleball player with no prior athletic experience.
- 2.5: An inexperienced player who is able to sustain a short rally.
- 3.0: An individual who is capable of distinguishing between a hard and a soft game. In the non-volley zone, they move quickly. Their understanding of stacking is essential.
- 4.0: A player who can identify and attack his opponent’s weaknesses. As a team, they move together and are aware of each other’s positions on the court.
- 4.5: The player is good footwork and understands strategy. The pair communicates well and moves well together.
- 5.0: The master of pickleball strategies. Their footwork is efficient, and they can easily adjust their game to their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Unforced errors are rare among them.
- 5.5+: An expert in pickleball. This player is of the highest calibre.
You can get an accurate pickleball rating by combining the Player Skill Rating Definitions and guidance from others.
USA Pickleball Tournament Ratings (UPTR)
According to USA Pickleball-sanctioned tournament results, UPTR is the official tournament rating for sanctioned tournament play. The UPTR rating comes in two forms: a two-digit rating and a four-digit rating, the latter of which is only used for seeding in tournaments. Your USAPA.org member profile gives you access to your 2-digit (rounded down version of a 4-digit number) and 4-digit Tournament Player Ratings (UTPR).
PickleballTournaments.com is USA Pickleball’s approved tournament software that calculates UTPRs from USA Pickleball-sanctioned tournaments. PickleballTournaments.com does not count recreational matches and games or tournaments that were not held through PickleballTournaments.com.
Dynamic Universal Pickleball Ratings (DUPR)
This is an effort to bring a more-accurate, unbiased, global pickleball rating system to the sport created in 2021 by Steve Kuhn, founder of Major League Pickleball (MLP).
With members disillusioned with USA Pickleball’s UPTR rating system, DUPR has attempted to correct the shortcomings. DUPR assigns players a rating based on their results, regardless of the type of event, location, or software provider.
You are continuously updated on your DUPR rating based on your performance. Criteria include: Did you win? What was your score? Can you tell me what kind of match it was (rec game, tournament match, league match)?
The DUPR organization will no doubt be featured in more and more major and minor league pickleball tournaments in the coming years, along with their DUPR Waterfall event series.
Why Are Pickleball Ratings Important?
There are many reasons why pickleball ratings are essential: they provide a natural grouping of players with similar skill sets, which allows for competitive play in recreational tournaments, leagues, and league play.
In the absence of accurate ratings, there might very well be an enormous disparity in skill on the court at a given time, making for games that are neither competitive nor enjoyable. The inaccurate ratings also encourage sandbagging – deliberately playing below one’s skill level to win a $5 prize.
Pickleball Skill Level Classifications
The YMCAs and local community centres – at least those that attract large groups during “open” pickleball times – typically rate and segregate players according to their skill levels. UPTR and DUPR ratings are not officially available to most players.
Players are generally classified as “novices/beginners,” “intermediate,” or “advanced” at these venues based on their pickleball skill level. This is an unofficial and subjective classification of pickleball skill levels.
A novice/beginner player is typically someone who has never played pickleball before or has only played a few times. It is difficult for them to keep score and know where to place themselves on the court, so they rely on others to do it for them.
Players with intermediate skill ratings will probably have the highest ratings. Pickleball intermediate players understand the game, rally well, and can dink, serve, and volley reasonably well.
“Advanced” players are generally those at the local YMCA or community centre who have good hitting strokes, are mobile, and make fewer errors.
Ratings are usually subjective and based on the YMCA or community centre in your area. “Advanced” pickleball players at the YMCA may be much better players than their peers at the YMCA, but not at a more “competitive” pickleball club or in tournaments.
Based on USA Pickleball standards, pickleball ratings range from 1.0 to 5.5+, with 1.0 being a beginner and 5.5 or higher being a professional player. This scale consists of two digits, whereas other systems, like UTPR, use four digits based on tournament play. Since each skill level has so much information attached to it, it’s best to start small and build your understanding from there. To simplify the system, we have created a 3-step process to help you better understand each rating.
Pickleball ratings are based on USA Pickleball standards, where 1.0 represents a beginner, and 5.5 or higher represents a professional player. UTPR, for instance, uses 4 digits based on tournament play, while this scale has 2-digits.
Pickleball players with 3.5 and 4.0 ratings are more consistent, control their shots better, and are more strategic. They land serves, returns, dinks, etc., with more consistency and control. As well as understanding their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, they are acutely aware of their own. In general, a 4.0 player has greater consistency, control, and strategic capabilities. When it comes to power shots and soft shots, a 3.5 may know the difference, but a 4.0 knows when to use them. It is not a problem for them to switch between low-, high- and medium-paced shots without hesitation.
5.0 pickleball players are not the best in the world, but they are some of the best in their region. They consistently win tournaments and receive acclaim due to their mastery of every technique in pickleball. Even though they may not be able to make it to the pro level, they’re just a step away. Players in the 5.5+ player class recognize that there is still room for growth, and many aspire to be among the best.
That’s all about “how to get a pickleball rating?”. There can be a wide range of skill levels depending on the venue, YMCA, or community centre. The more tournaments you play, the more objective your ratings will be – and the easier it will be for you to gauge your skill level. No system can guarantee accuracy.
Would you like to know more about pickleball ratings? Comment below with your thoughts!
I am the founder of BallSportsPro, a popular pickleball resource for players of all levels. I am a former professional tennis player, started playing pickleball in 2009 and quickly fell in love with the game. I launched BallSportsPro in 2018 to share my passion for the sport and to provide pickleball players with the latest news, tips, and gear reviews. Today, BallSportsPro is one of the most popular pickleball resources on the web, reaching hundreds of thousands of players each month. In addition to running the website, I also a regular contributor to Pickleball Magazine and a member of the USAPA Pickleball Ambassadors program.