Surrey Pickleball Club     

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Ratings and Skill Levels Overview


      The Surrey Pickleball Club (SPC) is committed to providing social yet challenging play for its members, by matching members together that are at the approximately the same skill level. To promote this philosophy, the club uses skill level ratings determined through self-rating, sanctioned tournament play, play in club leagues and ladders or skill level assessments performed by assessors certified by the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA). Members will register for club playing events through our Calendar according to their skill level.

      Joining SPC - Initial Skill Level 

      When you join SPC you will be required to specify your skill level (2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, or 5.0). New members with a skill level of 2.0, 2.5 or 3.0 are permitted to self-rate according to the ITPTA skill level assessment criteria, which can be found here.  New members of skill level of 3.5 or above are required to provide proof of their sanctioned tournament rating or their recent IPTPA rating assessment.  Without that proof, the new member will be admitted to the club at a maximum 3.0 skill level rating.

      Maintaining or Increasing Club Skill Level Rating

      Any member wanting to increase their skill level rating may do so through their on-court performance, playing in the club’s leagues and ladders, playing in sanctioned tournaments or receiving a new IPTPA assessment.

      Annually, all members of skill level 3.5 and above are required to demonstrate that they are maintaining (or increasing) their skill level. This is done through their on-court performance, playing in the club’s leagues and ladders, playing in sanctioned tournaments or receiving a new IPTPA assessment.  New members (joining in the current year) must play in a minimum of 24 league/ladder games or 4 sanctioned tournament matches.  Current members must play in a minimum of 12 league/ladder games or 4 sanctioned tournament matches.  Failure to meet the annual maintenance requirement will result in the member’s skill level being reduced by .25 at the end of the club year.

          Ratings Q&A

          I am new to Pickleball.  How should I be rated?

          First, compare your knowledge and skills against the IPTPA rating criteria which can be found here.

          A new pickleball player is likely a 2.0 player, possibly a 2.5 player and rarely, but possibly, a 3.0 player. Some rules of thumb for new pickleball players:

            • Someone who has not played pickleball, or any racket sport, would probably have a starting 2.0 rating. 
            • Someone who has played a bit of pickleball or has intermediate skills in another racket sport (e.g. tennis) and has a good command of the rules of pickleball may qualify for a starting 2.5 rating.  
            • In exceptional circumstances, someone who has advanced skills in another racket sport (such as tennis), including tournament play and has a very good knowledge of pickleball rules may qualify for a starting 3.0 rating.

          If in doubt, please have a discussion with the club’s Placement Committee.

          How can I get an IPTPA skill level assessment?
          The International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA) has certified assessors that will, on request by players, conduct assessments of a player’s play and determine the skill level rating at which they play.  The process for requesting a skills assessment can be found on the IPTPA website here.

          Throughout the playing season, SPC will occasionally arrange for a certified IPTPA rating assessor to be on site to conduct assessments.  These sessions are by appointment only and, except for SPC hosting the sessions, follow the process and with the requirements (and cost) specified by IPTPA. 

          What is the difference between skill level and rating?

          Each current member has a 2 digit club skill level (e.g. 3.5), the criteria for which which is defined by a set of criteria specified by IPTPA or the USAPA, or determined through a calculation that uses your on-court performance results. This level determines which events you can register for in the weekly schedule in the Calendar. If you choose to register for club league or ladder events you are also required to register in (first time only). You will then be assigned an 8 digit rating (e.g. a 3.5 is assigned a 3.50000000 rating) and that becomes your club/league rating in The rating will be recalculated each time you play club league/ladder games or sanctioned tournaments. Once your calculated rating crosses the skill level threshold, your club level is eligible to be increased.

          Why can’t I register for league or ladder events through the calendar page on the club website ?

          League games, game scores, and ratings are all entered, calculated, and stored in Therefore you must register for league and ladder events on that website. 

          How do the league/ladder results affect my club level ?

          Each time you play in a league/ladder event, your game results will be entered into, and your rating will be recalculated based on your on-court performance. If your 8 digit rating moves high enough (e.g. from 3.99999999 to (say) 4.01000000) to be in another 2 digit level (in this case from 3.5 to 4.0) in pickleballbrackets and you maintain that higher level consistently, you can request to be moved up a club level. You will then be able to sign up for events in the higher level in the Calendar.

          If I do poorly in league/ladder, will I be moved down a club level ?

          Possibly, but not immediately.  If your on-court performance (calculated rating) shows that you have not maintained or increased your skill level, your level may be changed at the end of the season.  We will not be lowering anyone’s club level until the end of each season. However, increases in club level may be applied mid season.

          In my member profile, there are three ratings origin choices (S = Self Rated, C = Club Rated, and T = Tournament Rated).  What’s the difference between these and why have three?

          Self-Rated applies only to 2.0, 2.5 or 3.0 members who have self-assessed their rating according to the IPTPA skill level criteria.  Club-Rated is a skill level rating achieved through on-court performance playing in club leagues/ladders. Tournament-Rated is a skill level rating achieved through on-court performance playing in sanctioned tournaments (Canadian or US).

          Can I request a new club skill level rating?

          Yes, but only when you meet one or more of the following conditions:

            • Your calculated rating moves up to a higher skill level via on-court performance in club league/ladder games in, and you hold that level for a minimum of 4 games, or
            • Your calculated skill level rating in sanctioned tournaments (Canadian or US) moves up a level, you maintain it for a minimum of 4 tournament matches, and you are trending up or holding your own, or
            • You receive a recent IPTPA skill level assessment at a higher level.

          Make the request to change your club skill level to the club’s Placement Committee.

          I also play at another club. Can I transfer my club skill level rating to SPC?

          No. Different clubs may use different criteria for determining club skill level ratings. If you transferred from another club where you had a club rating, you are treated as a new member and must follow the rules for new members (see above).

          I have a USAPA and/or Pickleball Brackets/Pickleball Tournaments tournament rating. Can I use that for my club skill level rating?

          Yes. If you have one of these ratings, you can provide the club’s Placement Committee ( with proof that you play at that level. The Placement Committee will review your submitted proof and verify that it meets the requirements (above) to be placed at that skill level.

          I’m a new member and I only want to play socially. Must I play league/ladder games to get a Club Level ?

          Not necessarily. All members may play socially/recreationally. League/ladder play is required only if you are a 3.5 or higher player (to maintain your skill level rating) or if any club member want to increase their current skill level rating through on-court performance.

          How can I see what my current skill level rating is?

          You can see your 2 digit club level by looking in your member profile on the club website. You can see your 8 digit Brackets rating is by looking in your club profile on

          If I’m successful at getting rated higher, when can I start playing at that new club skill level rating?

          Immediately upon request. A as soon as our club administrators make the change in our club website. Once that is done, you can register for sessions at your new club skill level rating.

          How do the "League" and “Ladder” events work and are they run much differently that the "Social" or “Recreational “ events" ?

          There are “Social” or “Recreational” events in the calendar, and there are “League” or “Ladder” events in the weekly play schedule. The league/ladder events are more competitive play, and the social/recreational events are more for fun and social mixing. For social/recreational events you register on the Calendar page on the club’s website, you show up, and the session Captain runs the event as preferred by the attendees (e.g. round robin, king/queen of the court, self-grouping, etc.).

          The league/ladder events run a little differently:

            • You register as an SPC club member in
            • You register for your SPC league(s) of choice in
            • For each league "game day" on which you want to play league matches, you "opt in" (i.e. register) to that game day for that league
            •  You show up to the event in
            • The registrants are ranked according to their rating
            • Based on your rating, the session Captain divides you into groups of 4 or 5 per court and gives you a scoresheet for recording your game scores
            • You play a round robin of games (in the order specified on the score sheets), record your results, and return the completed score sheets to the Captain
            • The results are entered on the website and your rating is changed, depending on your game results.

          Skill Levels - Informal Descriptions

          High Level Rating/Player Level Descriptions/Characteristics

          If you're interested in your approximate skill level rating, you can use the following high-level descriptions to consider your skills.

          1.0 New and have only minimal knowledge of the game and the rules. Need to work most on developing their hand/eye coordination. Frequently miss the ball entirely, but can hit some of the slower balls with their forehand. They have a hard time playing games because they can’t keep a rally going.

          1.5 Keep some short rallies going with their forehand, but still fail to return easy balls frequently and occasionally miss the ball entirely. They have played a few games and know the basic rules of the game, including scoring.

          2.0 Learning to judge where the ball is going, and can sustain a short rally with players of equal ability. They have obvious weaknesses in most of their strokes. Familiar with court positioning in doubles play.

          2.5 Able to keep quite a few balls going with their forehands, make most easy volleys, and are beginning to make some backhands but need to work more on developing their strokes. They are beginning to approach the non-volley zone to hit volleys and are making an effort to be more aggressive, including trying dinks and lobs. Familiar with the rules. Not yet playing in sanctioned tournaments. 

          3.0 More consistent on the serve and service return, and when hitting medium-paced shots, but are not comfortable with all strokes and lack control when trying for direction, depth, or power on their shots. They are using lobs and dinks with limited success but don’t fully understand when and why they should use them and don’t have a lot of success with them. They know all pickleball rules. Has begun to play in sanctioned tournaments. This player could be thought of as a “C” player.

          3.5 Have achieved improved stroke dependability with directional control on most medium-paced balls and some harder hit balls. They still need to develop more depth and variety with their shots, but are exhibiting more aggressive net play, are anticipating their opponent’s shots better, use lobs and dinks on a regular basis with more success, and are developing teamwork in doubles. Need to develop variety with their shots.

          4.0 Have consistent and dependable strokes, including directional control and depth on both forehand and backhand sides. They can reliably serve, use lobs, overheads, approach shots and volleys, and can use spin shots with some success. Occasionally can force errors when serving. Rallies may be lost due to impatience. Teamwork in doubles is evident. Dinks and lobs are used as a major part of their game. They know the rules of the game and play by them.

          4.5 Beginning to master the use of power and spin, can successfully execute all shots, can control the depth of their shots, and can handle pace. They have sound footwork and they move well enough to get to the non-volley zone whenever required. They understand strategy and can adjust their style of play according to their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and their position on the court. They can hit serves with power and accuracy and can also vary the speed and spin of the serve if desired. Dinks and lobs are weapons, and they have had success in tournaments.

          5.0 Have mastered all the skills – all the shot types, touch, and spin. Serves are used as weapons. Excellent shot anticipation, extremely accurate shot placement and regularly hit winning shots. Can force opponents into making errors by “keeping the ball in play.” Have mastered the dink and drop shots. Have mastered the shot choices and strategies for drop shots, lobs, and fast-paced ground strokes. Uses soft shots, dinks and lobs to set up offensive situations. Have mastered Pickleball strategies and can vary strategies and styles of play in competitive or tournament matches. Are dependable in stressful situations such as tournament match play. They have athletic ability, quickness, agility and raw athleticism that separate top players from those near the top. Are able to keep unforced errors to a minimum. They can take advantage of opponents errors. Have had successful experience with Provincial, State, Regional, or National 5.0 competition.

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