Guide to Pickleball Skill Levels and the Rating System


Guide to Pickleball Skill Levels and the Rating System

Pickleball is rapidly growing in popularity, and with the popularity comes varying pickleball skill levels among players. Whether you’re a regular competitive player or you’ve just begun your pickleball journey, chances are you’ve heard pickleball player ratings mentioned. 

Pickleball player ratings are used to rate players according to their ability on the court. Ratings are either given in the form of a two-digit or four-digit number and can help players match up with the appropriate competition. However, for many casual pickleballers, this rating system can be confusing, especially for beginners in the sport.

This article will help you better understand the different pickleball rating systems and the skill levels required for each rating. 

How is Pickleball Skill Level Calculated?

In many recreational settings, pickleball players and teams are categorized by their general skill level, not by a numeric rating. This makes things easier to organize and more inviting for novice and casual players alike. 

The three basic pickleball skill levels are:

  1. Beginner
  2. Intermediate
  3. Advanced

Beginner: The beginner skill level typically hosts players that are just entering the sport and learning the fundamentals of the game. Beginner players are often individuals who haven’t had much experience with any racket sports. 

Intermediate: Intermediate players have a firm grasp of pickleball and its rules. They often excel at aspects of the game but still have areas of improvement needed before reaching a higher level of play. 

Advanced: The highest basic ranking, advanced players will have their own unique style of play and have a firm grasp on the strategies and nuances of the game. They are able to deliver accurate and decisive shots and have a low percentage of errors within their games. 

Connecting your pickleball skill level to the numeric rating system is a bit more precise.
These numeric ratings are meant to remove any relativity to a player’s skill level. Each number rating is connected to how well the player can execute different shots and understand the strategy of the game. 

How Do I get an Offical Pickleball Skill Rating?

Apply for A Self Rating

  • Step 1: Become a member of USA Pickleball
  • Step 2: Review the skill level descriptions and determine your skill level
  • Step 3: Email a request to be self-rated to USA Pickleball’s rating admin, along with a letter of support from one of these three sources (A) an experienced USA Pickleball Tournament Rated Player (B) a USA Pickleball Tournament Director (C) a USA Pickleball Ambassador.
  • Step 4: Specify if you’ve played in any tournament that uses to give you a rating since that may be accounted for.
  • Step 5: You will receive a letter of decision.

Tournament Pickleball Rating

If you play in tournaments that use they will automatically assign you a tournament player rating.

Numeric Pickleball Rating Systems  

There are two main numeric rating systems for pickleball, each serving its own purpose. The USA Pickleball (USAP) official tournament rating and the self-rating systems. 

Self-Rating Pickleball System

USA Pickleball (USAP) developed a basic pickleball rating system that explains exactly how players should perform in order to reach certain ratings. 

This widely-used rating system allows any pickleball player to assign themselves a two-digit pickleball skill rating that ranges from 1.0 – 6.0+. Any pickleball player, whether they play competitively or not, can give themselves a rating according to their skill level.

Many pickleball tournaments will require you to have an initial rating when signing up so they can place you in an appropriate division. This can sometimes be confusing for those who haven’t been rated or played in a tournament before. But don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as you might think!

Here’s a chart that will help you determine what your pickleball rating is:

1.0 – 2.0A player who is just starting out, has minimal understanding of the game, and has no other racket sports experience.
2.5A player with limited experience who has the basic ability to keep score and can maintain a short rally with players of similar skill level.
3.0A player who has a good understanding of the pickleball basics and can accurately keep score. This player should be able to handle some dinks and hit drives, serves, and returns with a medium pace but may lack consistency and control.
3.5A player who has a general understanding of pickleball rules and strategies. This player (a) can no handle dinks with increased accuracy, (b) is able to effectively hit drives, serves, and returns with pace, (c) is beginning to understand proper court positioning, and (d) can sustain longer rallies.
4.0A player who is able to volley a variety of shots at different speeds. This player (a) consistently hits with depth and control, (b) places a high majority of serves/returns with varying depth and speed, (c) selectively mixes up soft shots with power shots, (d) has a solid knowledge of the rules, (e) has a moderate number of unforced errors per game.
4.5A player who has good footwork and moves in all directions well. This player (a) has a high level of consistency, (b) can effectively direct the ball with varying depth and pace, (c) serves with power and accuracy, (d) can consistently and intentionally place the ball, (e) can block hard volleys directed at them, (f) has a strong sense of strategy and communicates well with their partner.
5.0A player who has mastered both backhand and forearm drives, serves, and returns, as well as drop shots, dinks, and volleys of different speeds.
This player (a) operates with consistency and control, (b) has mastered the strategy and rules of pickleball, (c) rarely makes unforced errors, (d) attacks opponents’ weaknesses on the pickleball court, (e) creates opportunities from a variety of circumstances.
5.0-6.0+This player is a top-tier pickleball player. Their high performance and consistent winning at the highest level speak for this player’s ability.

USA Pickleball Official Tournament rating (UTPR)

The USA Pickleball Tournament Player Rating (UTPR) is a system that rates players based on their performance in pickleball tournaments. The rating system was created to help accurately determine pickleball players’ skill levels within competitive play. 

The UTPR system helps tournament organizers place teams in the correct skill level brackets according to players’ success and metrics in previous tournament play. 

In order to receive this pickleball player rating, players must be registered with USA Pickleball and participate in tournament play. Ratings are officially updated every week and are based on an ELO system that adds points for wins and subtracts points for losses – a player’s rating adjustment is affected by the rating of their teammate, opponents, and what type of tournament was played. UTPR ratings range from 0.000 to 6.999.

Dreamland Universal Pickleball Ratings (DUPR) – The New Pickleball Rating System

The DUPR is the newest and least common rating system for pickleball. This new DUPR varies from the UTPR in a number of reeasons. First, DUPR includes all matches, including recreational play while the UTPR only includes tournament play. Second, DUPR weighs how many points were scored in each match, so every point counts in recreational play. Finally, DUPR awards a higher weighting to the weaker partner’s skill level for doubles pickleball, which accounts for the assumption that the weaker player wil be targeted in games more.

Pickleball Ranking Organizations

There are a few top organizations that deal with ranking pickleball players. These rankings differ from player ratings as there is no assigned numeric score, rather just a current list of where a player ranks among their competition. 

APP Rankings

The Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) hosts a tournament tour for both professional and amateur pickleball players. The APP keeps a ranking of players based on their personal performance in APP Tour events. The APP Tour is the only organization that keeps a detailed list of amateur standings after each of its tournaments. 

Global Pickleball Rankings

Global Pickleball is an organization that makes pickleball league and tournament software and keeps an advanced pickleball player ranking list. The Global Pickleball Rankings are sorted by age groups and determined by a player’s top 12 events in the last 12 months. Players do not directly move down on the Global Pickleball Rankings due to poor match results – points are never taken away and only given for match wins. 

PPA Rankings

The Pro Pickleball Association (PPA) is a pickleball tournament tour with multiple divisions for varying skill levels. The PPA keeps rankings based on players’ performances in PPA Tour events. This ranking system determines positions by taking into account the top 80% of each player’s tournament play in the last 52-week period, meaning a player’s worst 20% of tournament play will not be considered in their ranking.  


Pickleball rating systems are a good way to measure your skill level and can help players understand what division they should enter for tournaments and leagues. For most casual settings, a basic rating of beginner, intermediate, or advanced will be enough. However, as you begin to enter leagues, tournaments, and competitive play, pickleball ratings and rankings will be important to understand.

But no matter your pickleball skill level or rating, the only way you’ll truly know how you stack up against the competition is to get out there and play! 

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All Drive No Drop Team

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