If you've recently picked up the game of pickleball and are starting to think about where your skills sit in comparison to your friends or maybe the top professional players, there are ways to rate how good you are!
In pickleball there are currently three ways to rate your skills:
A player’s rating is a reflection of one’s skills. The scale starts at 1 and used to go up to 5, but it’s been adapted so that now there’s no limit (currently the top professional players have a rating of 6.0+). The scale goes up in 0.5 increments with 1.0 being a beginner or someone who's never played before, and 5.0+ being the professional level. This rating system was implemented by the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP).
Self-Rating: Major organizations such as USAPA and Pickleball Canada provide definitions of a player's skill level which I encourage every player to read over. There you will find descriptions of the various skill levels to read over and you will find a level that best describes your abilities. For my first tournament, I had to self-rate myself in order to choose a category to play in.
Tournament Rating: One will gain a tournament rating by participating in a tournament that uses management software. Your results are calculated along with the merit of the people you play against. There is two leading software that is currently being used: pickleballtournaments.com and pickleballbrackets.com. Once you’ve participated in multiple tournaments and the calculations accumulate, your player profile will show a 2 and 4-digit rating which is determined by the Elo Rating System. For example, a rating could look like 3.535. In this case, the person would be allowed to participate in the 3.5 skill level or higher. The 2-digit rating is for tournament registration and the 4-digit rating is for tournament seeding. Keep in mind that there is a separate 4-digit rating for Mixed Doubles, Men’s/Women’s Doubles, and Singles. You will see these separate ratings as you participate in the respective categories.
Pro Tip: You cannot play lower than your skill level in a tournament!
How ratings are displayed on pickleballtournaments.com
Club Rating: Through my experience, this is the least common rating one can receive. I chalk it up to the fact that there are not many established pickleball clubs in Canada and also requires club tournaments and league play to determine a rating based on calculated results. Pickleball Canada states on their website they have an arrangement with pickleballratings.com to eventually provide this service to its members.
I've also found that Pickleball Ontario’s website provides a really good breakdown of this information as well. Be sure to check it out! I will also say that in the USA there are plenty of pickleball clubs and the majority of them have designated raters. There are also USAPA Ambassadors and certain coaches who can rate your abilities.
Being rated in pickleball and the Elo Rating System can be a big learning curve for those who come from another sport where ratings are not calculated in such away. Personally, my background is in soccer where our team’s league had standings based on wins and losses, so this was a new experience for me. But as I began competing in more tournaments that use tournament software and I could see my rating fluctuate, it really made me focus on defining long and short term goals for myself. I really enjoy this added experience it’s giving me in pickleball!