Pickleball Player Skill Ratings

The USAPA has a skill rating system here which is used for tournaments around the world. Unfortunately what is ‘on paper’ is not what occurs on the court. In reality I would be a level 2.5 in a tournament. On paper I am a level 4. These ratings DO NOT equate to the USA Pickleball skill ratings and so before you enter a tournament, you should ask for assessment from the tournament organisers.

This is our player skill ratings in groups

  • LEVEL 0 – LEARN TO PLAY, no previous racquet or paddle skills. Has played a racquet sport in the past but does not know how to play pickleball, does not know the rules, does not know how to serve or score. You may be asked to attend a second or third learn to play session to develop your skills before attaining your rating
  • LEVEL 1 – BEGINNER, learning skills of game, softer play, has difficulty serving and receiving , does not come to the NVZ, plays a more social game, does not attack the ball, very high error rate, does not know the rules, cannot or struggles to understand scoring, does not know where to stand, has attended at least one learn to play session
  • LEVEL 2 – ADVANCED BEGINNER, developing skills, medium strength play with inconsistent results, unable to dink, 75% of serves go in, sometimes moves to the NVZ line but usually is caught playing back, rarely attacks ball or does with inconsistent results, high error rate, plays a more social game, learning rules and scoring
  • LEVEL 3 – INTERMEDIATE, strong play, attacks ball with inconsistent results, understands all the elements of the game, plays at the NVZ line, can dink with inconsistent results, prefers to hit hard than to dink, medium/high error rate, expects competitive play, knows the rules, can score correctly correctly and may not know where to stand to reflect the score
  • LEVEL 3.5 – ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE, strong play, attacks ball with consistent results, understands all the elements of the game, plays at the NVZ line, can dink with consistent results in dinking rallies, use tactics effectively, medium error rate, expects competitive play, knows the rules, can score correctly correctly and knows where to stand to reflect the score
  • LEVEL 4 – ADVANCED, can use all the elements of the game effectively and consistently, strong play, uses tactics effectively, low error rate, has varied types of serves, expects competitive play, knows the rules and can score correctly and knows where to stand to reflect the score

Playing down or up a group level

We strive to match skill levels however due to numbers, it is not always viable. When playing people of a lower skill level, it is EXPECTED that the high skilled player adjusts their game accordingly for ‘social court’ play sessions only. The higher skilled player can use this time to refine their softer game, and improve their dinking skills. When a ‘competitive court’ session is promoted, then lower skilled players should expect to be challenged and may struggle to return serves and have balls smashed in their direction.

Lower skill level players wanting to play with higher skill level players are EXPECTED to:

  1. Accept they will be given playing advice by their more experienced higher skill level partner and not to ignore this advice
  2. Play at the non volley zone line
  3. Take the time to read (at least) the basic pickleball rules here and know these rules
  4. Understand that they will be playing a challenging game
  5. Learn how to score. Read here how to score here

Level 3 to 4 players should always inform the lower skilled partner they may give playing advice AND lower skilled players should take advantage of playing with higher skilled players and use this time to learn and improve their own game. If a lower skill level player prefers not to receive on court ‘coaching’ then it is best that they play always on the social court and not the competitive court.

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