Ratings are a staple in sports because they allow for players of similar ability to be paired up against one another. That makes for a more competitive game and pushes the inner athlete in all of us to be our very best.
Pickleball ratings are currently somewhat subjective. They’re not intended to put anyone in a box, hurt their feelings or limit potential. If anything, ratings should serve as benchmarks to reach when you’re attempting to crush your pickleball goals.
Ratings and Rated Events
The primary reason ratings are important is because they serve as the basis for how most tournaments are seeded. These sorts of tournaments are called rated events.
Events at bigger pickleball tournaments are regulated by rating. When you sign up for an event, your rating will determine the brackets of players you play against such as in “Men’s 3.0 Doubles” or “Women’s 4.5 Singles.” These numbers reference the player rating of those competing.
The instances where a rating is necessary are outlined on the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) website. As they explain:
- IFP ratings are not currently required to enter USAPA or PCO sanctioned tournaments.
- IFP rated players are required to enter events that are rated no lower than their current rating, although they may enter higher-rated events if they choose.
- Tournament directors have the final decision on what rating level unrated players will play.
- Rated players must be allowed to play at their rating level although they may always choose to play in a higher rating group. Exceptions may occur when rated events have to be combined because of lack of entries.
How to Get an IFP Rating
There are three ways to obtain a rating. You can call it the SAT Method:
S elf – A non-rated player rates themselves
A ppealed – A player disagrees with their rating and appeals
T ournament – A player’s rating is calculated by tournament wins and losses
Starting off with the S, this is for first-time tournament entrants. If you have never been rated before, you can give yourself your inaugural rating. The only caveat is that the Tournament Director must approve of the rating you give yourself. Based on the results of the tournament, if you do not exhibit the potential of the rating you saddled yourself with, a new rating will be appointed to reflect the proper skill level.
Next up, we will skip to the T. Tournament performances affect ratings. However, this is yet another subjective practice. Ratings following tournaments are determined by:
- Outcome of the Current Tournament
- Other Tournament Performances
- Recommendations by Tournament Directors
- Other Players’ Trusted Opinion
If you have registered for a tournament in the past, you can find out your rating by checking out the USAPA Ratings Page.
If you do not agree with the rating you are classified by, then the A process kicks in. You have the right to appeal and state your case to the IFP.
Appeals can be done to move yourself up and down the ladder. Each situation is unique but appeals ending in a ranking that is favorable to the player typically fall into the categories of:
- Permanent or Long-Term Injury
- Severe Change in Physical Health
- Declining Skill Level
- Improved Skill Level
Appealing to go down a skill level to play with a particular partner in a lower level for a rated doubles event is not permitted.
If you feel you have a legitimate claim to a different rating, you can file an appeal on the USAPA Ratings Page. From there, click the Ratings Committee link. Once you are redirected, you can start the appeal process by writing a formal e-mail to the board requesting that they change your rating. Be sure to finish the e-mail with the reasons why you want to move up or down in ratings.
How to Know What Your Rating Means
It helps to know just what these numbers mean when trying to decide where in the spectrum you fit.
The ratings breakdown is as follows:
1.0: Limited knowledge of the game
1.5: Has minimal skills, played a few games
2.0: Holds short rallies and has doubles play courting down
2.5: Making most volleys, some backhands, but has weak court coverage
3.0: Consistent serve, returning medium-paced balls, but lacks directional control, trying dinks
3.5: Demonstrating aggressive net play, beginning to anticipate opponent’s shots
4.0: Using 3rd shot strategies but loses rallies due to impatience, fully knows game rules
4.5: Keeping ball in play, solid footwork, beginning to master 3rd shots
5.0: Master, ready for highest competition
For a more in-depth explanation of each rating, please visit the IFP Pickleball Rating Descriptions Page.
You and Ratings
Have you registered for a tournament? What was the rating you gave yourself? Did it match up to your skill set? What is your rating now? We would love to hear more about your experiences with IFP ratings at tournaments!