How to Find Your Pickleball Rating
There are lots of ways to find out what your pickleball rating is.
And there are plenty of different criteria, figured in a variety of ways. The wild thing about pickleball ratings is they are both subjective and also can be objective.
Players can self-rate, and assign themselves any level they want if they are entering a tournament, or players can be evaluated in a number of different scenarios to determine a more accurate rating. Both self-rating and an official rating are deemed acceptable.
If you’re getting set to enter your first tournament and don’t know what your rating should be, the best way to get started in rating yourself is to check out USA Pickleball’s skill assessment sheets.
You can always self-rate your game and enter a tournament as a beginner or at any other level. If you’re interested in self-rating, here’s an easy breakdown of each skill set.
1.0-2.0 player if you’re just starting to play and have no other sports background.
2.5 – A player who has limited experience and can sustain a short rally.
3.0 – Is someone who understands the fundamentals as well as court positioning.
3.5 – Would be someone who knows the differences between the hard and soft game. This person also moves quickly to the non-volley zone and also understands the benefits of “stacking.”
4.0 – This player is able to identify and attack weaknesses from the other team. This player is also aware of their partner’s position on the court and is able to move as a team with their partner.
4.5 – This player understands strategy, has good footwork, can communicate well, and move efficiently with their partner.
5.0 – This is the highest pickleball rating and is for a person who has mastered strategy and can easily play a fast or slow game.
Each rating also comes with a set of skills that require proficiency to move up.
If you want a sanctioned and official rating, the UPTR is considered the standard in pickleball ratings. It is used by USA Pickleball for sanctioned tournaments. The rating is calculated by your play at USA Pickleball-sanctioned tournaments.
The UPTR rating can be a 2-digit or 4-digit number. The 4-digit number is used for tournament seeding purposes. The 2-digit number is standard and is more common. Both numbers can be accessed if you’ve played in a tournament by visiting your USAPA.org member profile. You will have to join the USAPA to play in a sanctioned tournament.
Games with your friends at your local park or community courts, considered “Recreational matches” do not figure into your UTPR rating. Your rating is also not affected by tournaments that use pickleballtournaments.com software to run their events.
The UTPR rating is way more accurate than self-rating and that’s valuable for beginners who want to get involved in tournaments. However, one of the downsides to the UTPR rating is that the scores of the matches used to calculate the final number are not considered. Only the win or the loss factors in and that can ultimately lead to not being the most-accurate metric.
In addition to self-rating and UTPR, DUPR is another criterion for rating purposes. DUPR (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Ratings) was developed in 2021 by Steve Kuhn, who also is the founder of Major League Pickleball. DUPR is used by every PPA player on tour and is available for all amateurs too. The app is a free download to your phone.
DUPR’s aim is to get a more accurate rating system for all players. It figures your rating based on results, regardless of event, location, tournament, or whatever. And the best thing about DUPR’s rating system is the fact it continually updates. It factors in not only if you won, but how many points were scored. It figures in if the game was a tournament, a league match, or just a practice, recreational game with friends.
DUPR is certainly more accurate than a self-rating and is more consistent than the UTPR. All a player has to do is find a match, get everyone on the court to agree that it will be recorded, play away and then enter the results when the match is completed. DUPR matches during practice games can add a level of intensity that is sometimes hard to replicate outside of tournament play.
The downside of DUPR is that not everyone uses it. Although it is getting more popular, there are still lots of players who aren’t interested or don’t know about DUPR.
All three types of rating systems can help you get an accurate reading on your skill level for either doubles or singles.
There are also aptitude tests one can use to help determine a rating. Consider the following skills from USAPA and see where you might fall with your abilities. Here are some of the highlights of the criteria for each skill level:
A 2.0 player has an understanding of the rules, knows how to keep score, can demonstrate a forehand, backhand, volley, and serve accurately into the correct spot. That person also knows where to stand when serving and returning.
A 2.5 player knows the basic rules and the two-bounce rule, can hit a forehand and backhand with direction, is accurate with the serve, is able to sustain a dink rally, can volley with some direction, understands fundamentals, and can accurately keep score.
A 3.0 player can hit a medium-paced forehead and backhand, can serve with depth and accuracy, can control a dink rally, can hit a medium-paced third-shot drop, and can hit a medium-paced volley with direction as well as understanding the fundamentals of the game, positioning and has played in tournaments.
A 3.5 player can use a forehand and backhand with a moderate level of control, can consistently get the serve in, return the serve in, can serve deep, and can return the serve deep. This player can also sustain medium-length dink rallies, can control the height and depth of dink shots, and understands the variation of pace for dink shots.
A 4.0 player has all of the skills above and is accurate on overhead shots, can sustain a dink rally with control, height and pace, consistently executes third-shot drops from the baseline, and is able to change soft shots to power shots and then back to soft. A 4.0 player can also block and return fast, hard volleys and is always aware of their partner’s position on the court.
A 4.5 player can do all of the above and can set up shots to generate errors from the other team, recognizes and attempts to hit attackable dinks, poaches effectively, has effective lobs, good footwork, and is comfortable playing at the non-volley zone line as well as understanding strategy and can adjust during the game.
A 5.0 player has all of those skills above and has them mastered, can serve in a variety of ways with power and accuracy, mastered the dink shot, and exhibits patience during a rally.
All of the above, no matter what system you use to establish a rating, is a great way to get involved in singles, doubles, and tournament play. It allows a degree of consistency that works in whatever place you are playing. Often, courts are divided for recreational play based on skill. If you know your skill, you are more than likely to not just be comfortable, but also likely to have a better time.
Playing in games with highly skilled players when you’re just a beginner isn’t a lot of fun for any of the participants, but finding a game where players are of like skill is rewarding, a chance for some good exercise, and can be competitively fun.
Knowing your skill rating will add to your enjoyment of the game, get you set for tournaments and allow you to connect with pickleball players on any court at any destination.