Pickleball Ratings – Create a Level Playing Field & Great Play

Pickleball Ratings are at first about identifying a players standard or level of playing ability. The standards or rating levels range from level 1.0 through to level 5.0 with level 1.0 being an absolute beginner and level 5.0 being the highest level.

Rating levels are used for tournaments so that it matches ability to ability. Some tournaments also divide onto both age and ability categories.

It means that if you are a 4.0 level player you will play against other players at that same 4.0 level ensuring a competitive game. It also could be that if you are a 4.0 player in the 55-60 age category that you play other level 4.0’s in that age category making it even more of a level playing field. However, the only thing you really need to know when it comes to Pickleball ratings is ‘What is your Rating?’

The current player rating system used in North America is based on various criteria defined by the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP).

Excepting events which require a USAPA-or club-approved rating level, the IFP skill level sets are to be used as a guide for evaluating your own level and true to form this can be a bit subjective however if you are true as you can be to your own ability then your fairness and accuracy in self-rating will help ensure you and your opponents have a positive playing experience.

As any pickler knows – pickleball is fun but it is the most fun when you are playing people of the same skill level as yourself. If you continue to blow other teams away 11-2 or 3 or 4 or they in-turn blow you away every time you play, it is not much fun for either the losing or the winning team.

Fun play that involves different levels on the one court can be fun to play but good competition play is competitive fun because it is a challenge between players at the same level. By playing others with similar skill levels or slightly above it provides opportunity to learn and improve. If you happen to be playing someone with a lower skill level, take the chance to work on a specific part of your game such as precise ball placement or take the risk with a more difficult shot so that you reap some specific ‘practice’ from the game.

And one thing to point out and I know for some it is hard to do because we are all wired in different ways, but always be gracious in winning or losing.

Pickleball Ratings – what does a rating actually mean?

Let’s look at two IFP Rating description examples in bullet point, a 2.5 rating or level and a 5.0 rating or  level.

Pickleball ratings 2.5 is evaluated as being able to meet the following criteria

·         Makes longer lasting slow-paced rallies.

·         Makes most easy volleys and uses some backhands, but needs more work on developing shot strokes.

·         Beginning to approach the non-volley zone to hit volleys.

·         Aware of the “soft game.”

·         Knowledge of the rules has improved.

Court coverage is weak but improving.

Pickleball ratings 5.0 is evaluated as being able to meet the following criteria

·         Mastered all the skills – all shot types, touch, spin, serves, with control and can use them as weapons.

·         Excellent shot anticipation, extremely accurate shot placement and regularly hit winning shots.

·         Forces opponents into making errors by “keeping the ball in play.”

·         Mastered the dink and drop shots.

·         Mastered the 3rd shot choices and strategies.

·         Uses soft shots, dinks and lobs to set up offensive situations.

·         Mastered pickleball strategies and can vary strategies and styles of play in competitive or tournament matches.

·         Dependable in stressful situations as in tournament match play.

·         Athletic ability, quickness, agility, and raw athleticism are also qualities that are sometimes what separates the top players from those near the top.

You can download one page skill assessment sheets for the skill levels: 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0.  on any number of club websites as many are compiled by “club” rating committees for use in assigning internal club skill ratings.

These sheets are not replacing the official USAPA/IFP skill level definitions used in the pickleball ratings.  Rather, these ‘club’ sheets provide assistance and a method for local rating committees to help rate players.  Players can also use these sheets to determine what particular skills they need to work on.

However I've made this easy for you

Courtesy - http://www.usapa.org you can simply right click and "Save As" on any skill assessment sheet below - but first a bit of humour...  

How to Determine Pickleball Ratings Humorously 

How to Determine Player Pickleball Ratings

When you don't have to think about which shot to hit, you just naturally hit it, you are God... sorry you are a 5.0.

When you don't have to think about which shot to hit but you can't successfully hit it 2186 times in a row, you might be knocking on Gods door but you sorry, you are a 4.5

When you have to think about which shot to hit and when you figured it out can then execute it, you are the bell boy at 4.0.

When you have to think about which shot to hit but still hit the wrong shot, you are the bell boys assistant at 3.5

When you have to think about which shot to hit but can't figure it out until after you have tried to return it back into play somewhere over the net, and you think can beat the bell boy, you are a 3.0

When you don’t think about which shot to hit, you swing and miss or swing and it doesn’t go anywhere near where you think you wanted to aim at, you are a 2.5 but don’t really know what a 2.5 means.

When you don't think about which shot to hit, whose serve it is, can’t remember the score and don’t fetch the balls, you are a 2.0

When you don’t know that others think about which shot to hit, have to be told to serve, don’t know how to score, fetch other peoples balls and you rate everyone else as good or really good, know there are drinks on ice and a barbie happening for sure after running around a bit with a paddle in your hand, you are playing pickleball and are having more fun the gingermegs and... - you are likely rated between 1 and 2.

Pickleball rankings are a fantastic thing for the game of pickleball and most of all for players. It is totally free to be ranked and is a requirement to have one if you want to play in sanctioned tournaments. You can do as many people do and I might add are allowed to do, a self-assessment. You can get more information on how to do that here: 

Pickleball Rankings - The Guidelines for Assessing Yours 

Right click (your Skill Assessment Sheet) and "Save As"

4.5 and 5.0 Assessment Sheets not published on UASPA however thanks to a Google Search you can download 
4-0-to-5-0-Guide here

Other people who have read this page go onto read...

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