Pickleball Ratings Part One: Overview of the Most Popular Player Rating Systems

Author
PB Vision Team
December 19, 2023

Whether you first stepped on the court several years ago or several days ago, you’ve probably heard pickleball players talking about their ratings.

“I’m a 3.5, but I’m trying to get to 4.0 by the end of the year.”

“I thought I was a 4.0, but I just played in a tournament against other 4.0 players and they totally destroyed us. I think we were sandbagged.”

“You’re a 4.5? I’m only a 3.0. No way am I playing against you.”

Player ratings help us gauge our skill level compared to our competitors, find good match-ups with other teams, and measure our improvement over time. That last piece is probably the most important–without ratings, you have no way to determine how much you’ve improved or how much more work you need to put in to reach your goals.

That being said, how you’re rated as a player depends on your rating system–and not all of them are created equal. Read on for an introduction to the different types of rating systems, plus the pros and cons of each.

DUPR (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating)

📸 by DUPR

                                                                                                                            

DUPR is one of the most popular pickleball rating systems, especially for amateur players. It includes both doubles and singles play and is designed to be a universal standard.

Algorithm: DUPR includes both doubles and singles, and is based on your most recent 60 matches (for doubles) or 30 matches (for singles) within 12 months. It employs a proprietary algorithm, which considers factors like the competitive level of the match, the type of match (club, tournament, etc.), and winning/losing to provide a rating between 2.0 and 8.0.

Pros:

  • Incorporates both sanctioned and non-sanctioned matches.
  • Universal approach, aiming for a standard that can be applied anywhere.
  • Considers a broad history of recent play, not just tournaments; meaning you can have a DUPR score even if you don’t play in tournaments.

Cons:

  • Some players believe it can be slow to respond to skill changes.
  • It can be biased based on region because the algorithm factors in the skill level of those you play with; i.e. a 4.5 player in California might be very different from a 4.5 player in Florida.
  • It does not currently factor in point differential or margin of victory, only wins and losses. Your DUPR can go up only if you win, and will go down if you lose–even if the match was close against more highly rated opponents.
  • Algorithm updates happen often, and aren’t always clearly communicated, which can be confusing for players looking for a consistent rating system and can cause ratings to shift even if the data doesn’t change.

USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) Player Ratings

A player’s USA Pickleball Tournament Player Rating (UTPR) is calculated based on the player’s performance in USAPA-sanctioned tournaments. The rating algorithm takes into account tournament wins/losses as well as the ratings of all opponents. Ratings are initially calculated as 4-digits, then rounded down to provide a 2-digit rating ranging from 1.0 to 6.0+.

Players without a UTPR can self-rate to enter tournaments. Guidelines are provided by USAPA to help players self-rate, by assessing their proficiency in skills such as dinking, serving, volleying, and strategizing.

For example, a player just starting out in the game without much sports experience would be a 1.0-2.0 player, whereas a pickleball pro would rank at 5.0 and above.

Algorithm: The UTPR calculates a player’s 4-digit rating for each player, adjusting after each sanctioned tournament based on match outcomes and the ratings of opponents. That 4-digit rating is then rounded down to a 2-digit skill rating.

Pros:

  • Based on actual match results, which can be a strong indicator of performance.
  • Encourages competitive play in sanctioned tournaments.
  • The 4-digit UTPR is calculated on a weekly basis.

Cons:

  • May not accurately reflect the skill of players who don't frequently compete in tournaments.
  • Because players can use self-ratings to enter tournaments (at least at first), they can ‘play down’ against players of lesser skill and thus enhance their UTPR unfairly.
  • UTPR may be slow to reflect changes in skill. For example, if you’re rated at a 3.5, but practice has brought you closer to a 4.5 skill level, you can still play in a 3.5 tournament–but winning all of those matches at 3.5 will not have much of an effect on your rating.
  • UTPR could be biased based on age or region if players do not participate in a variety of age categories and localities.

Pickleball Tournament Rating (WPR)

PickleballTournaments.com developed the World Pickleball Ratings (WPR) system to be as comprehensive as possible.

Algorithm: The WPR algorithm uses a Glicko-2 ratings system to calculate a player’s rating on a quarterly basis based on factors such as results from sanctioned and non-sanctioned tournaments, match frequency, and opponents’ player ratings.

Pros:

  • Tailored for tournament players.
  • Decreases ‘sandbagging’ in tournament play by reducing the use of self-rating for brackets and seeding.

Cons:

  • Like UTPR, it may not accurately reflect the abilities of players who do not compete in tournaments, such as those run through PickleballTournaments.com.
  • The proprietary nature of the algorithm means players can't precisely predict how their actions will affect their rating.

Less Common Rating Systems

There are a handful of additional rating systems, but they are less common:

  • World Pickleball Federation (WPF) Rating System: WPF uses a system similar to DUPR but is used by the WPF for international play. Players can view their rankings at global, regional, and country levels, and that ranking takes into account the best twelve results over the past year. The pros and cons for this rating system are similar to DUPR’s.
  • International Pickleball Federation (IPF) Rating System: Similar to USAPA's rating, providing guidelines for international competition levels. The pros and cons of IPF rating are similar to USAPA’s.
  • Local Club or Regional Ratings: Some local clubs have their own rating systems based on local league play or assessments. These ratings may not always translate well to national or international levels but are used for internal events and ladder play.

5 Tips for Improving in Any Rating System

Remember, each rating system has its specific goals and use cases, and the best way to improve your rating will depend on your competitive focus and the resources you have available, including using advanced analytics platforms like PB Vision to get more detailed insights into your game. 

With recorded data from everything that happens on the court, PB Vision is working toward a more objective rating system. For more information about how computer vision can be used to improve your game and–one day–provide you with the most accurate player rating, check out part two of this post here.

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