What's my Rating?

I'm just gonna be blunt...skill ratings are a mess in pickleball right now, because there is no centralized rating that tracks everything. There are SEVERAL organizations that track ratings:

  • UTPR: USA Pickleball maintains the Universal Tournament Player Rating. The catch here is that they only track games from sanctioned tournaments, and the overwhelming majority of tournaments aren't sanctioned. There are several reasons why, but do a quick check on your favorite registration site and you'll find very few sanctioned tournaments.

  • WPR: PickleballTournaments.com maintains the World Pickleball Ratings. These ratings are calculated from all tournaments that are run on PT, which is a lot of tournaments; both sanctioned and non-sanctioned. This system currently has the broadest base of data input.

  • Pickleball Brackets: PickleballBrackets.com maintains ratings for tournaments and leagues run through their site, but it doesn't include any matches from any other tournaments. I think this works really well for relative ratings among players in a local area that uses this site a lot, but doesn't have the broader reach of WPR.

  • DUPR: The Dreamland Universal Pickleball Rating is a great concept; they want to include all matches, whether sanctioned or not, regardless of what software runs them; even rec games and leagues. The problem is that right now (spring 2022), the app and ratings system are an abject failure. I really hope they figure things out, because the concept is amazing!

So What Do I Do About It?

The primary concern is initially being rated too high, then having to lose a lot to move down to an appropriate level. I learned this the hard way, so I'm hoping this will help prevent others from making the same mistake.

I didn't know I needed to be concerned with seeding my rating, so I just went and played my first tournament, registering in the 3.0 bracket. As fate would have it, there were only 3 teams in my bracket, so the tournament director rolled-us up into a combined 3.0/3.5 bracket. The problem is that your initial rating in UTPR and WPR is calculated as the average rating for your bracket. So in my case, that was 3.518. So even though I registered for a 3.0 bracket, my initial rating (going into the first game) was 3.518. We lost, but my rating stayed above 3.5, meaning that for the next tournament I wouldn't be able to register in a 3.0 bracket. I appealed this and got things fixed but do yourself a favor and try to head this off at the pass.

So how do you avoid my failure?

Before your first tournament, send a note to ratingsadmin@usapickleball.org with your preferred initial self-rating. Note that they will put you in the middle of your bracket, so if you ask for 3.5, they will make you a 3.75.

If you're playin in a non-sanctioned tournament on PickleballTournaments.com, then I recommend that you play your first tournament in a conservative bracket. If you think you're a 3.5, go ahead and play that first tournament in 3.0. If you win, cool...move to 3.5 next time (even if your rating hasn't caught-up to that yet). But don't think "I'm gonna dive-in at 4.5 and see how that goes", because you're likely to be stuck with a high rating and will have to lose a lot before that comes down enough to register in an appropriate bracket.