Skip to content

Pickleball Ranking System & Levels Explained

Pickleball levels and ranking system explained

TLDR: This article discusses the pickleball ranking system, the levels and how it works. It explains the basics of the USAPA rating system, the four different skill levels of players, and the strategies for playing at different skill levels. Additionally, it breaks down the different levels and rankings, from beginner to professional, and explains how to advance through each level.


  • The article explains the ins and outs of Pickleball ranking system, which is used to determine the level of expertise and competitive standing of each player in the Pickleball circuit.
  • The Automatic Player Classification System (APCS) divides players into four different skill levels based on winning percentage. These levels range from beginner pickleball players (2.0/2.5 Players) to advanced (4.5-5 Players) and professional (6 stars & higher) levels, and players can advance through the ranking system by competing in tournaments and accumulating points.


Have you ever been curious about your own level in Pickleball? Or maybe you’ve been trying to decipher the competitive system behind Pickleball rankings and tournaments? Well, you’re in the right place.

In this article, I’m going to walk you through the ins and outs of Pickleball levels and rankings. We’ll start with a quick overview of the basics, and then dig a bit deeper into each element of the system. Before we know it, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of the Pickleball ranking system and be ready to use it to your advantage!

The Basics of Pickleball Ranking System

If you’re looking to up your Pickleball game, you’ll need to understand the basics of the Pickleball ranking system. This system helps to determine the level of expertise and competitive standing of each player in the Pickleball circuit.

The ranking system is based on the USAPA’s rating system, which is used to measure the level of play in players from beginners all the way up to professionals. The ratings begin with an unranked status (1.0) and climb in half-point increments (1.5, 2.0, 2.5, and so on) until reaching a peak of 5.0+ for professional level players.

These ratings are used to create divisions for tournaments that group contestants into categories based on skill level and playing experience. This makes it easier for players of similar levels to compete against one another for a fair match-up and encourages higher levels of skill development within each division.

So if you want an honest assessment of where you stand in your Pickleball career, look no further than the ranking system!

Understanding the Skill Levels in Pickleball

Understanding the levels of pickleball can help you better navigate the sport and find the players that are at your level. The Automatic Player Classification System (APCS) divides players into four different skill levels based on winning percentage.

If your win rate is less than 30 percent, you are considered a 2.0 player and will be placed in the beginner’s division. As your skill level increases, so does your rating—moving from 2.0 to 2.5 to 3.0 and even higher up to 5.0 if you’re a pro player! Here’s a closer look at what each of these levels mean:

  • 2.0/2.5 Players: These are beginner players who have just learned and started playing the sport, or those with some experience but still working on mastering the fundamentals of pickleball like serving, returning and volleys
  • 3.0 Players: These players have intermediate knowledge and can successfully handle different strategies like a lob or drop shot, as well as have an understanding of the game’s tactics
  • 3.5-4 Players: At this level, players generally have more control over their shots, exhibit increased athleticism while playing and play an offensive game more often than not
  • 4.5-5 Players: These are elite players who not only understand full court strategy but adeptly take advantage of opportunities for both singles and doubles play

Advancing through the Pickleball Ranking System

Moving up the Pickleball ranking system is a rewarding experience and one that will help you improve your skills. You can advance in rank by competing in tournaments and accumulating points. There are multiple levels and rankings, from beginner to pro, so here’s a breakdown of how it works:

1-2 stars: Beginner Level

Players at this level are just getting into the sport, have limited experience with strategies, and need to work on technique. Players need to play in tournaments to accumulate points to move up.

If this sounds like your rating, you might enjoy this guide next. 10 tips for pickleball beginners.

3-4 stars: Intermediate Level

Players at this level are familiar with the rules of the game and know how to use strategies appropriate for their level of play. Players should focus on honing specific elements of their game like shaping shots and understanding strategy when playing doubles.

5 stars: Advanced Level

Players at this level have great control over their shots and can coolly assess each situation as it presents itself during a match. This level requires players to increase their fitness, perfect their technique, and learn rule updates regularly so they don’t fall behind competitively.

6 stars & higher: Professional Level

Players at this level aspire to compete in Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) sanctioned tournaments or exhibitions where they can achieve success on a national or international stage. It takes extreme dedication, physical fitness, proper nutrition as well as time management skills for players to succeed at this level.

Advancing through the Pickleball ranking system is attainable for any player invested time in improving their skills and willing to compete against others of similar skill levels in tournaments. The benefits that come with advancing through each level not only raise your

Strategies for Playing at Different Pickleball Skill Levels

No matter where you are on the pickleball ladder, there are some general strategies for playing against opponents at various skill levels. In general, playing smart should be your main focus no matter who you’re up against.

Playing against higher-level players

When playing someone at a higher level than you, it’s usually best to focus on defence. You don’t have to hit the ball hard or take risks to win points from this type of opponent — just focus on keeping the ball in play. This means waiting for your opponent to make a mistake and then capitalise on it.

Playing against lower-level players

When facing a less experienced player, chances are they won’t be able to hit complicated shots or patiently wait for you to make mistakes. So use this opportunity to practise your offence and work on improving your skills. Take risks and experiment with different kinds of pickleball shots — just don’t become too predictable or your opponent will adjust and take advantage of your strategy.

When strategizing no matter what skill level your opponent is at, remember that pickleball is all about teamwork, so communicate effectively with your partner and be prepared to adjust your game when needed.

The Future of Pickleball Ranking System

The future of the pickleball ranking system is getting more interesting every day, as technological advancements continue to change the way we think about tracking and rating players. This means that our current ranking system may not be the same in years to come.

For example, many experts are now advocating for a switch from a points-based system to one that records actual match-level data. This type of system could provide key performance metrics, like average rally lengths, serve effectiveness scores, and more.

In addition, automated scoring technology is allowing players to track their performance in an instant and adjust their strategies during the game. This can give coaches and players the opportunity to identify areas for improvement—and then make immediate adjustments—in order to help them excel on the court.

Finally, there are emerging ideas about how our current ranking system could change drastically. For instance, leagues could replace traditional tournaments with circuit-style rankings or even partner with technology companies in order to create sophisticated algorithms that accurately distribute rankings based on quantifiable data.

The possibilities are endless! As advances in technology continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in pickleball rankings, it will be interesting to see how this changes our current system—and how it could help further strengthen the sport of pickleball around the world.


So just to summarise, understanding the pickleball ranking system is essential for players of all levels. Tracking points earned in tournaments and seeking guidance from more experienced players are important steps towards improving your game and increasing your ranking.

Finally, take the time to learn from more experienced players around you—they can provide valuable tips and insights that are essential for improving your game. With patience and hard work, who knows? You may even rise up to become a pickleball pro!

David Mason
Get in touch
Latest posts by David Mason (see all)