What Are Pickleball Skill Levels, And How Are They Classified?

Pickleball has quickly become a very popular sport in the country, and like some other sports, the skill level of a player has a classification.

However, if you have never seen these skill levels before, you may be unaware of what these skill levels are, or what yours is.

Luckily though, we’ve got all of your questions answered. We’ve written this handy guide that explains what pickleball skill levels are and how exactly they are classified. 

So, if you’re ready to learn much more about pickleball skill levels, then read on and find out the answers! 

Pickleball Skill Levels 

There are many people who play pickleball, and a lot of them will want to know what their skill level is, especially when in comparison to the USAPA rating scale which is involved with a lot of skill-based tournaments.

Indeed, even in some open tournaments, there’s often a lot of confusion over a player’s skill level. Sometimes, these skill levels are categorized by “beginner” and “advanced” etc.

While this can be helpful to some degree, it doesn’t necessarily answer the question.

It can be very difficult to find your pickleball skill level if you cannot find a USAPA skill rater. As it stands, if you were to play in a USAPA sanctioned tournament, your skill level would be identified by the tournament director. 

They may do this by their own analysis, or you may have won a medal in a tournament, which would be a way to categorize your skill level, and place you in this category for future tournaments. 

However, many – perhaps even the majority of pickleball players – have not taken part in a USAPA sanctioned tournament and will likely need to rely on either their own self-assessment or someone else to categorize their skill (see also: What Is The Most Important Skill In Pickleball?)level. 

Luckily though, there are descriptors out there that you can use to help to come to your own conclusion for your skill level – which we will show you later in this guide. 

Is A Skill Rating Important?

Most pickleball players will want to improve their own game, so understanding where you are in terms of your own skill is important, as you will be able to play against players around the same level as you. 

This allows you to improve your game and know where you need to improve to advance your skills. It also keeps the game fun and competitive. 

Pickleball Skill Descriptors 

Let’s now examine how you might categorize your own pickleball skill(see also: What Is My Pickleball Skill Rating? [Ratings Chart For Beginners]). We hope these descriptors make it easier for you.

Beginner (Level 1)

You are a total beginner to the game and you have never played before. You have no knowledge of the sport and have likely never watched a game. 

Beginner (Level 1.5)

If you are at this level, you have taken part in at least one lesson and have learned the very basics. These include how to serve, developing your forehand and the very basics of scoring. 

At this level, you will likely not be able to return serves regularly, but you might have a few times. 

Beginning (Level 2) 

This level is where you have started to participate in more pickleball games and a few lessons. You can now move around the court in a safe way and you are able to get some serves in.

You now understand how scorekeeping works, what the rules are, and where you need to be during a serve and in general play.

You will also have the basic skills necessary to play such as backhand and volley, and you may have even played doubles. 

What Are Pickleball Skill Levels, And How Are They Classified? (1)

Beginning To Novice (Level 2.5) 

You are now starting to develop your game much more. You can serve in on a much more frequent basis and you can demonstrate the two bounce rule mostly.

You have a good understanding of where to be on the court during play and you can easily keep score.

While your general play is improving, you will still at this level be variable in success and will need a lot more practice time. 

Novice (Level 3)

This is the last of the “beginner” categories. As a novice, you can demonstrate a good understanding of the game and you can do the basics very well.

However, as you are trying to perform some advanced skills, you are finding some trouble and varied success.

There are also some things you try that may or may not be the right decision for the gameplay – and as a result, more practice will be beneficial. 

Intermediate (Level 3.5)

At this level, you can demonstrate a broad knowledge of the game and you will be serving in very regularly, many of which can be served deep.

You can often hit to the weak side of the opponent and you can frequently demonstrate use of new tactics and strategies.

In doubles, you can work well with your partner with good communication, but you will lack consistency at this level.

Intermediate To Advanced (Level 4)

Your consistency is much better at this level and typically, you will play much more offensively. You are able to anticipate what your opponent will do a lot more than you could before.

You will be very comfortable on the court and your play is showing signs of high quality, although there will be errors at times.

Advanced (Level 4.5) 

At this level, you have essentially mastered everything in the game and you are able to play against a very high level of opposition. However, you will also find yourself struggling with fatigue at times due to the standard of play.

Despite being very good at pickleball, you will still make some errors – albeit they are infrequent and unforced.

Highly Advanced (Level 5) 

This is the highest level you can achieve and you will be able to demonstrate your knowledge, skill and general fitness easily. It will be clear how advanced you are in the game to other players.

You play well with almost anybody and you can easily teach other players some pointers. You may make an error, but due to its rarity – it’s usually unnoticeable. 

You have likely won a few tournaments and play the game regularly. Your fitness level is incredible and you take good care of yourself in terms of injuries and sport fatigue. 

Players at this level would be advised to contact potential sponsors and can likely start to consider taking pickleball to the next level and possibly going professional with the game.

Can I Go Pro With Pickleball?

Yes, it’s possible to play professional pickleball by making your money through tournament winnings, sponsorships and other avenues. However, you should consider playing many tournaments first before you make such a decision. 

Earnings will vary from tournament to tournament, so be aware of these factors as well.

The Bottom Line 

Pickleball ratings can be very difficult and tricky to find, but if you use these descriptors above – you should now be able to somewhat understand your pickleball level much better.

Michael Walter
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