The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) is the national governing body for the sport of pickleball in the USA and provides players with official rules, tournaments, ratings and promotional materials.
A USAPA rating assesses a player’s skill level and rule knowledge. Players can then use this rating to compete against other players at the same or similar skill level.
Below are the USAPA self-rating definitions to determine your own skill level:
1.0-2.0 Skill Rating
- This player is just starting to play pickleball and has no other sports background. Minimal understanding of rules of the game.
2.5 Skill Rating
- This player has limited experience. Can sustain a short rally with players of equal ability. Basic ability to keep score.
3.0 Skill Rating
- This player has the ability to hit medium paced shots with their serves, serve returns and their forehand but lacks directional intent and consistency.
- Backhands, 3rd shots, volleys and dinks for this player are not yet developed and the player lacks the ability to control the shot.
- This player understands fundamentals, is learning proper court positioning, knows the fundamental rules and can keep score.
3.5 Skill Rating
- This player has the ability to hit moderate paced shots with their serves, serve returns and their forehand with some directional intent and consistency.
- Backhands, and volleys are starting to show consistency and control.
- This player is starting to develop the 3rd shot drop as a way to get to the net. Their dinking game has increased consistency but still lacks the ability to control height and depth.
- When considering game strategy this player moves quickly towards the non-volley zone (NVZ) when opportunity is there and is able to sustain short to medium length rallies.
- This player acknowledges differences between the hard game and soft game and is starting to vary their own game during recreation and tournament play.
4.0 Skill Rating
- This player consistently hits with depth and control but is still perfecting shot selection and timing. Serves and returns are hit with a high level of control, speed and depth.
- This player has moderate success at hitting a backhand consistently.
- Their 3rd shot has become a selective mix of soft shots with power shots to create an advantage with inconsistent results.
- They are able to volley a variety of shots at different speeds and are starting to execute the block and re-set volley.
- This player has increased consistency with moderate ability to control the height and depth of their dinking game. Can identify the difference between attackable balls and those that are not but may end the dink rally too soon due to lack of patience.
- Aware of partner’s position on the court and is able to move as a team. Solid understanding of stacking and when and how it could be used in match play.
- Demonstrates ability to change direction in an offensive manner. Has a moderate number of unforced errors per game. Beginning to identify opponents’ weaknesses and attempts to formulate a game plan to attack weaknesses.
- Is beginning to seek out more competitive play. Demonstrates a broad knowledge of the rules of the game.
4.5 Skill Rating
- This player hits shots with a high level of consistency using pace and depth to generate an opponents’ error or to set up their next shot. Serves with power, accuracy, and depth and can also vary the speed and spin of the serve.
- Backhands are hit consistently with varying depth and pace.
- This player consistently executes effective 3rd shot strategies that are not easily returned for advantage. Able to intentionally and consistently place the ball during dinking rallies and is successful at changing shot types while playing both consistently and with offensive intent. Recognizes and attempts to hit attackable dinks.
- Able to block hard volleys directed at them and can consistently drop them into the NVZ. Comfortable hitting swinging volleys. This player is very comfortable playing at the non-volley zone. Hits overhead shots consistently, often as putaways.
- They communicate and move well with their partner — easily “stacks" court positions.
- This player understands strategy and can adjust style of play and game plan according to the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and court position. Limited number of unforced errors.
5.0 Skill Rating
- This player hits all shot types at a high level of ability from both the forehand and backhand sides including touch, spin, and pace with control to set up offensive situations. Has developed a very high level of variety, depth, and pace of serves. Has developed good touch from all court positions and is able to drop and drive the ball from both the forehand and backhand side with high level of consistency.
- Uses dink and drop shots strategically to create attacking opportunities. The 3rd shot execution is consistent and leads to opportunities for winning points. Shows patience during extended dinking rallies.
- Able to block hard volleys directed at them and consistently drop them into the NVZ. Places overheads with ease for winners.
- This player has mastered pickleball strategies and can vary strategies and styles of play in competitive or tournament matches. They are successful at turning defensive shots into offensive shots. Easily and quickly adjusts style of play and game plan according to the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and court position. Rarely makes unforced errors.
5.5 Skill Rating
This player is a top caliber player. Performance and tournament wins speak for this player's ability to consistently perform at a high level.
If you are interested in obtaining an official USA Pickleball Rating head over to https://usapickleball.org/tournaments/usapa-tournament-player-ratings/how-to-get-an-official-skill-rating/ to find out how.