Are you new to pickleball and wondering what level you are? Or maybe you’ve been playing for a while but don’t know how to gauge your progress. In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to determine your skill level in pickleball.
There’s a standard rating system for pickleball played by the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP). You can read about it here. Once you have a basic idea of what levels you are, you’ll be able to choose a level that matches your skill. Here are some guidelines for you to follow:
1.0 – 2.0 players
Players with 1.0-2.0 skill ratings have a general understanding of the rules of the game, but are likely intimidated by more advanced players. This player level is the easiest to play with.
They can hit the ball back and forth, but they might miss a few balls that come their way. In addition, they’re probably already familiar with the rules of the sport and understand some basic ground strokes.
If you think you are at 1.0 – 2.0, you should think about practicing pickleball alone or with someone at your same skill level. This way, you can improve your skills without being overwhelmed by more advanced players.
2.5 – 3.5 players
A player at a 2.5 level can sustain a short rally with players equal with his ability. He starts to understand the most important strokes in the game, but makes a lot of mistakes while playing.
A 3.5-level player can hit serves quickly and efficiently, and they’re able to execute their backhand, sidehand and drop shots. They also understand the nuances of the game and the positioning on the court.
Players in this skill level can also execute a variety of shots with power and accuracy, and they’re also proficient in playing in the non-volley zone. At this level, players are more aggressive and can put more pressure on their opponents.
Level 4.0 players are well versed in the basic principles of the game. They know how to volley at a variety of speeds and hit shots with moderate depth. They can also hit successful third shot drops. Players at this level typically have a background in racket sports and are strong athletes.
They are likely to seek competitive play and are comfortable challenging top players. A 4.0 player needs to be able to serve accurately and has excellent court positioning and control. Likewise, he is able to master different strategies to block a push ball and avoid backswings.
At this level, players are in teams and probably get pickleball sponsorships from different companies. They are top-level athletes who dedicate a lot of time to the sport.
Developing the forehand is essential for a 4.5 player. This shot generates more pace on the serve and increases the likelihood of an opponent making a mistake. It can also be a point-winning shot.
A 4.5 player consistently generates pace and depth to generate opponents’ error or set up next shot. He is able to block hard volleys directed at them and can consistently drop them into the NVZ. At this level, the player understands strategy and can adjust style of play and game plan to match the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
Pickleball players with a skill rating of 5.0 or higher consistently demonstrate advanced skills and superior strategy. They understand the different strokes and shots, and are adept at rallying. These players can also identify their opponents’ weaknesses, and they can easily dominate a game.
At 5.0, these players have a consistent serve and excellent variation of speed and spin. They are also skilled at court positioning and can anticipate the opponent’s shot. They are able to maximize their potential and minimize their unforced errors.
Pickleball self rating
If you are new to pickleball, you will need a “benchmark” (starting) rating. As such you will be required to self-rate – so that you compete in the appropriate skill division for your age and level of play at tournaments.
A player is considered beginner when he just starts out playing pickleball or if he played a game or two. He doesn’t know how to keep score, how to position on the court, and can’t sustain a rally. After he hits a ball correctly, he usually makes an unforced error on the second one.
Intermediate players are the ones who can hit the ball hard and “target” the weak spots of the opponent. He knows how to strategize his shots and how to position on the court.
Those rated as “advanced” are those who hit the ball hard, have better mobility and make fewer errors than the others at that particular venue.
Things to consider when you are self rating
Skills and abilities
Consider your own skills and abilities. If you feel like you’re able to hit the ball well and make good shots, you’re likely a higher level. On the other hand, if you feel like you need more practice and are making lots of mistakes, you’re likely a lower level.
If you’re just starting out, you’re likely a beginner. If you’ve been playing for awhile and are starting to feel more confident, you may be intermediate. And if you’ve been playing for years and feel very comfortable on the court, you may be advanced.
Win/ loss percentage
Think about your wins and losses. If you find that you’re winning more games than you’re losing, you’re likely in a higher level than someone who is losing more often.
Skill level of the opponents
Take into account the skill level of your opponents. If you’re playing against people who are better than you, you’re likely a lower level. On the other hand, if you’re playing against people who are worse than you, you’re likely a higher level.
In conclusion, knowing what level you are in pickleball is important to ensure that you are playing with others of a similar skill level. There are a few ways to rate yourself, including the standard ratings’ system, or by considering your skills and abilities in comparison to others. Whichever system you use, be honest with yourself so that you can have the most enjoyable and fair experience when playing pickleball.