Pickleball ratings are assigned to players in the form of a number from one to six based on their skill level. This helps to divide players into categories, making it easier for clubs and tournament directors to set up fair games. Ratings are either self-assessed or externally assessed, depending on the ratings system being used (DUPR vs UTPR).
Breakdown of Pickleball Ratings
Pickleball players with a skill level in this range are just starting the game.
These are new players with a basic grasp of the rules. They might be able to maintain a short rally, but are unlikely to win any matches.
Most amateur players fall into this category.
Players with this skill rating are able to compete in a pickleball tournament. They understand the fundamentals of pickleball and have a firm grasp on shot selection and pickleball strategy.
Players at the higher end of this range are able to manipulate the ball skilfully with their paddles, pulling off specific shot strategies (drop shots, dinks) and returning their opponent’s shots with purpose.
Anyone with a 5.0 rating or higher is a professional pickleball player. They consistently win matches and can pickleball tournaments.
Players at this level know how to dominate the non-volley zone, have a strong grasp of pickleball strategy, and rarely make unforced errors.
Why do pickleball ratings exist?
The main reason pickleball ratings exist is to help match players against similar skill-level opponents at pickleball tournaments.
Pickleball clubs have members with a variety of skill levels. Tournaments use player ratings to stop games from being too one-sided.
Amateurs don’t usually need to know their official rating. Simply defining yourself as a beginner, intermediate, or expert pickleball player should be enough.
If you need a specific number, you can give yourself a self-rating based on the skill level of your pickleball fundamentals. Check out the USA Pickleball rating definitions here.
These self-ratings take into account how well you play pickleball, with questions assessing your:
- Skill with shot types (forehand, backhand, lobs, dinks)
- Court positioning
- Mastery of pickleball strategies
If you want to take your game to the next level and engage in tournament play, it can be helpful to use a rating system to define your skill level.
There are two competing pickleball rating systems: the DUPR and the UTPR.
The DUPR (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating)
The DUPR is the rating system championed by the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA).
The DUPR is determined by players inputting data after every game of pickleball they play. This includes both recreational and tournament play.
It’s free to use.
A rating can be generated after just one match. The DUPR website asserts an accurate rating can be formed with just 5-10 matches.
The DUPR is a clever algorithm that considers a player’s last 30 singles matches or last 60 doubles matches. It’s calculated using three sets of data:
- The amount of points won
- The overall result of the match
- The type of game (recreational, tournament, etc)
The DUPR relies heavily on you playing against other rated players, allowing a more accurate player rating.
The benefits of the DUPR are that it:
- Takes into account every game you play
- Is free and easy to use
- Doesn’t require you to play in officially sanctioned tournaments
However, because it relies on self-inputted data, the DUPR can be prone to sandbagging. This is when players fake results to manipulate their rating, allowing them to play against opponents with a mismatched skill level.
UTPR (USA Tournament Player Ratings)
The UTPR is the rating system used by the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA).
Unlike the DUPR, it cannot be self-determined. Only matches with players at specifically sanctioned tournaments count toward your rating.
The benefit of the UTPR is that it tends to be more accurate since it’s based on an external assessment (rather than a self-assessment).
The downside is that it’s harder for players (especially new players) to receive a UTPR rating.
It’s also possible that only counting tournament matches and not recreational play can lead to a less accurate rating.
If you have months between tournaments, with a lot of recreational matches in between, your rating might change substantially. The DUPR system would track your improvement as you go, while the UTPR would not.
Examples of pickleball ratings
Let’s imagine some hypothetical players and their potential ratings.
- Jenny is a new player who has never played a match. Her only experience of pickleball is a few rallies with her brother. She would get a skill rating of 1.0.
- Tom has a basic understanding of the rules. He can keep up a short rally with his friends who started at the same time as him and likes to play pickleball to relax. He would get a skill level of 2.5.
- Ahmed has an excellent forehand with good control and is developing his backhand. He can volley, dink, and is working on the drop shot. He plays in pickleball club tournaments, winning as many games as he loses. He would get a skill rating of 3.5.
- Sally plays pickleball professionally. She has mastered every shot, has excellent pickleball strategies, and consistently beats the highest-rated players. She would receive a player skill rating of 6.0.
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