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Pickleball ratings rules 101: How to rate yourself

Pickleball ratings rules 101: How to rate yourself


By Jaclyn Brandt

On: 02/28/2024

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Pickleball ratings rules will help you determine your current level of play, and also tell you if you are ready for specific tournaments or leagues.
Pickleball ratings rules will help you determine your current level of play, and also tell you if you are ready for specific tournaments or leagues.

Pickleball players are lucky enough to play in a sport that has already determined ratings for levels of play. Pickleball ratings rules will help you determine your current level of play, and also if you are ready for specific tournaments or leagues.

Although the ratings are never 100 percent, they will give you an idea of your strengths, weaknesses, and how you have improved during your pickleball journey.

Pickleball rating 1.0 to 2.0

Pickleball rating 2.5

  • Understands the rules well enough to play a game.

  • Very limited pickleball experience.

  • Can keep up with a rally, as long as you are playing with players of your same ability.

  • A basic understanding of how to keep score.

Pickleball rating 3.0

Forehand: You can hit a medium-paced shot, but not with direction or consistency.

Backhand: You try not to use your backhand unless it’s absolutely necessary. But when you do, it does not have direction or consistency.

Serve & Return: You can return a medium-paced shot, but you are not able to do so with any strategy.

Dink: You are not always able to maintain a “dink rally” because you cannot yet control your dink consistently.

Third Shot: You can hit a medium-paced third shot, but not with any strategy behind it.

Volley: You can hit a medium-paced volley, but not with any strategy, direction, or consistency.

Strategy: You understand the basics of what you should be doing, but you do not yet have the skill to do it. You are still learning your position, but you do know basic rules and can keep score. You may already be playing in tournaments.

Pickleball rating 3.5

Forehand: You now have some control over your forehand shot, and you are improving every time you play.

Backhand: You are learning your backhand form and are starting to improve. But you still defer to your forehand if possible.

Serve & Return: You can now serve and return the ball more regularly, and you are learning how to control both.

Dink: You can now dink more consistently, although you still do not have much control over your dink. You are starting to understand pace and can rally longer than before.

Third Shot: You have started to develop your drop shot, although not with much power or control.

Volley: You can now volley medium-paced shots regularly, which is helping you learn to control your shot.

Strategy: You have a better understanding of your position, and when to stand on which area of the court. You have learned a lot about how to play in certain situations, including positioning, which shot to use, and how to interact with your partner.

Pickleball rating 4.0

Forehand: You are now able to hit the ball with control and depth, but you are still working on which shot to take, and when.

Backhand: You are now using your backhand more and more, but you’re still working on it.

Serve & Return: You now have more control over your serve and returns.

Dink: You now have more control over your dink shot, but you may get bored with dink rallies.

Third Shot: You are starting to understand why you would use a combination of soft shots and power shots to confuse your opponent.

Volley: You are now able to sustain a longer rally using volleys, and can now volley at different power and control. You have been introduced to the concept of a “block/reset volley.”

Strategy: You better understand how a team works together, and are now aware of your partner’s movements and position. You have also become aware of your opponent’s movements, position, strengths, and weaknesses. You also have a good understanding of the rules of pickleball. You are looking to be more competitive, and to play with players who challenge your level of play.

Pickleball rating 4.5

Forehand: You now have a high level of power and control, as well as being able to control the pace and depth of your shot.

Backhand: You also have good control of your backhand.

Serve & Return: You can now serve and return with power, control, and accuracy — and you can also affect the spin of your serve.

Dink: You can place the ball where you want, and you also recognize “attackable dinks.”

Third Shot: You are skilled at your third shot now, both in intent and consistency, making them more difficult to return.

Volley: You are skilled in returning volleys, including being able to land them in the kitchen when you choose.

Strategy: You can easily move your feet in every direction, and you know how to play at the kitchen line. You understand your partner’s movement and intent and communicate well with them, as well as understanding your opponent’s strengths, weaknesses, and intent. You do not have many unforced errors.

Pickleball rating 5.0

Forehand / Backhand / Serve / Return: You can hit every type of shot, including the touch and spin. You can control your returns from every position on the court, and can vary between different depths and pace of play.

Dink: You are an expert in both dinks and drop shots, and can control your opponents with the placement of your shots. Perhaps most importantly, you have gained a patience that allows you to control the game.

Third Shot: You can drop and drive the ball from both your forehand and backhand. You are in control of creating your points for the win.

Volley: You are able to defend hard volleys and return them into your opponent’s kitchen or feet regularly.

Strategy: Strategy is an important part of your game, and the reason you make most of the moves you make. You can change your game based on your opponent, and can defend most shots to give you the advantage. You rarely make unforced errors.

Pickleball rating 5.5+

You are the best of the best. You are regularly competing in tournaments, and constantly practicing. You have the wins to prove you earned yourself a 5.5 or higher.

Find your pickleball rating

When you are first learning to play pickleball, the rating system may seem confusing. But as you gain skills and understand the game, it will become more apparent. It will also give you something to strive for, and will place you correctly in the tournaments you choose to play in.

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