The purpose of our club ratings is to provide level play sessions at our club and to ensure that members attending those sessions are playing at the appropriate level to provide as much fun and closely-matched games as possible.
Skills / Rating Methodology
Pickleball Hamilton has decided to follow the USA Pickleball Skill Assessments.
Expand each skill rating below or click to take the test as a "self assessment" and be honest with yourself about each item.
For each item, ask yourself: "Can I do that when someone on the other side is trying to make me miss my shot?"Updated Feb 20, 2023
Who must go through the assessment process?
All members wishing to play in level play 3.0 or above beginning in the summer 2023 season
Any member who has a recent assessment performed to the standards of USA Pickleball performed by a certified teaching pro
If you have this, please email a copy to email@example.com with subject "RATINGS - 'Your Name'"
NOTE: Failure to put the subject in correctly will delay us processing your rating change
Any member who only wishes to play in BYOG or Open Play sessions
Your membership fee includes one rating assessment credit with one of our club pros (The credit has no cash value)
Additional assessment credits will be paid by you, the member through CourtReserve
The assessments are typically $25 per person
NOTE: The pro will need a minimum number of paid assessments to make the trip worthwhile
Your credit is considered to be used under any of the following 3 conditions:
You attend your rating session and the pro(s) assigns you a club rating
You don’t show up for your rating session
You cancel your rating session within 24 hours of its starting time
Why does your credit expire for reasons 2 & 3 above?
When we book the club pro to come in for a ratings session, we pay them whether you show up or not
This is why you will be charged your credit for a late cancelation or no-show
Ratings will be done in batches and will include both drilling and game play with others at the level you are being assessed for
Drilling will include shot types that are considered a requirement for certain levels of play
Game play will include one pro who will be observing and taking notes
The procedure may take up to two hours depending on the skill levels of the members
The assessments may be video recorded to confirm their accuracy
The videos will not be shared with anyone other than the board members and ratings pro(s)
Items in the tests about playing tournaments will be ignored
Notes about Ratings:
You will be assessed for the skill level you apply for.
If you do not demonstrate to the pro that you are at that level AND if it is not obvious to the pro that you are at least at the next level down, you will need to select a lower level to be re-assessed for at your own cost.
For example: You ask to be assessed for 4.5, the pro will assess you for 4.5. If you do not demonstrate the necessary skills for 4.5 AND it is not obvious to the pro you are at least 4.0, you will need to book again at your own cost. You may then choose to be assessed for any lower level you wish, but it will be at your own cost. Please choose wisely.
Effective immediately, if you are taking lessons from a pro, you must be rated by a different certified teaching pro.
1.0-2.0 Skill Rating
This player is just starting to play pickleball and has no other sports background. Minimal understanding of rules of the game.
2.5 Skill Rating
This player has limited experience. Can sustain a short rally with players of equal ability. Basic ability to keep score.
3.0 Skill Rating
Ability to hit a medium paced shot. Lacks directional intent and consistency.
Avoids using a backhand. Lacks directional intent and consistency.
SERVE / RETURN:
Able to hit a medium paced shot. Lacks depth, direction, and consistency.
Not able to consistently sustain a dink rally. Not yet developed the ability to control this shot.
Generally hits a medium paced ball with little direction.
Able to hit a medium paced shot. Lacks direction/inconsistent.
Understands fundamentals. Is learning proper court positioning. Knows the fundamental rules and can keep score and is now playing tournaments.
3.5 Skill Rating
Improved stroke development with moderate level of shot control.
Learning stroke form and starting to develop consistency but will avoid if possible.
SERVE / RETURN:
Consistently gets serve/return in play with limited ability to control depth.
Increased consistency, with limited ability to control height/depth. Sustains medium length rallies. Starting to understand variations of pace.
Developing the drop shot in a way to get to the net.
Is able to volley medium paced shots thereby developing control.
Moves quickly towards the non-volley zone (NVZ) when opportunity is there. Acknowledges difference between hard game and soft game and is starting to vary own game during recreation and tournament play. Can sustain short rallies. Is learning proper court positioning. Basic knowledge of stacking and understands situations where it can be effective.
4.0 Skill Rating
Consistently hits with depth and control. Is still perfecting shot selection and timing.
Has improved stroke mechanics and has moderate success at hitting a backhand consistently.
SERVE / RETURN:
Places a high majority of serves/returns with varying depth and speed.
Increased consistency with moderate ability to control height/depth. May end dink rally too soon due to lack of patience. Is beginning to understand difference between attackable balls and those that are not.
Selectively mixing up soft shots with power shots to create an advantage with inconsistent results.
Able to volley a variety of shots at different speeds. Is developing consistency and control. Starting to understand the block/re-set volley.
Aware of partner’s position on the court and is able to move as a team. Demonstrates ability to change direction in an offensive manner. Demonstrates a broad knowledge of the rules of the game. Has a moderate number of unforced errors per game. Solid understanding of stacking and when and how it could be used in match play. Beginning to identify opponents weaknesses and attempts to formulate game plan to attack weaknesses. Beginning to seek out more competitive play.
4.5 Skill Rating
High level of consistency. Uses pace and depth to generate opponents' error or set up next shot.
Can effectively direct the ball with varying depth and paces with good consistency.
SERVE / RETURN:
Serves with power, accuracy, and depth and can also vary the speed and spin of the serve.
Ability to place ball with high success at changing shot types while playing both consistently and with offensive intent. Recognizes and attempts to hit attackable dinks.
Consistently executes effective 3rd shot strategies that are not easily returned for advantage. Able to intentionally and consistently place the ball.
Able to block hard volleys directed at them and can consistently drop them into the NVZ. Comfortable hitting swinging volleys. Hits overhead shots consistently, often as putaways.
Has good footwork and moves laterally, backward, and forward well. Uses weight transfer for more efficient footwork. Able to change direction with ease. Very comfortable playing at the non-volley zone. Communicates and moves well with partner — easily “stacks" court positions. Understands strategy and can adjust style of play and game plan according to the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and court position. Limited number of unforced errors.
5.0 Skill Rating
FOREHAND | BACKHAND | SERVE / RETURN:
Hits all shot types at a high level of ability from both the forehand and backhand sides including: touch, spin, and pace with control to set up offensive situations. Has developed good touch from all court positions. Has developed a very high level of variety, depth, and pace of serves.
Mastered the dink and drop shots. Ability to move opponents with shot placements. Exhibits patience during rallies with the ability to create an opportunity to attack utilizing the dink. Increased ability to change the pace of dinks strategically.
Mastered the 3rd shot choices and strategies to create opportunities for winning points. Able to drop and drive ball from both the forehand and backhand side with high level of consistency.
Able to block hard volleys directed at them and consistently drop them into the NVZ. Places overheads with ease for winners. Able to volley shots toward opponents feet consistently. Comfortable with swinging volley in both initiating and ability to attack back or neutralize return.
Mastered pickleball strategies and can vary strategies and styles of play in competitive or tournament matches. Is successful at turning defensive shots into offensive shots. Has efficient footwork and effective use of weight transfer for improved quickness on the court. Easily and quickly adjusts style of play and game plan according to the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and court position. Rarely makes unforced errors.
FAQ'sUpdated Feb 28, 2023
If I get a new rating, how soon can I play at that level?
The CourtReserve admins need a couple of days to enter the new data. Once it is entered, you can use your new rating. Please be patient, we are volunteers with lives outside of pickleball.
If I get assessed and I move down a level, is it effective immediately
The CourtReserve admins need a couple of days to enter the new data. Once it is entered, your new rating will be in effect.
If I don't feel confident in being assessed now, can I wait until the outdoor season?
The short answer is yes, you can wait. The longer answer is it seems that you are unsure if you are giving the members around you the game that they deserve. We would strongly encourage you to go through the ratings process earlier as balancing the level play is what this is all about.
What if I am unavailable for the ratings session during the indoor season?
We will be putting on ratings sessions during the spring outdoor season as well. You can attend one of those.
If something comes up and I can't make it, how do I get a refund?
If you have to withdraw and it is more than 24 hours in advance, you are eligible for a refund.
You must let the board know that you have withdrawn so we can get another member to attend in your place.
If this becomes a common issue with members withdrawing too late, we will adjust the withdrawal period accordingly.
This is a manual operation in CourtReserve which is run by volunteers. It may take a few of days to process a refund.
NOTE: We approve the refund in CourtReserve and have no control over when CourtReserve / Stripe will refund your credit card.
Will I be able to play down with my spouse or partner?
Yes, we can give you a dual-rating so you can play with your significant other. This will be done after you have a confirmed rating.
Why would the video be shared with the board members?
In the event there is a member who wishes to contest their assigned rating, the board may review the video with the assessing pro to determine if there was possibly an error.
Does the board have any influence on ratings?
No. We hired professionals for a reason.
What is the deadline for playing level play without going through the assessment process?
As of April 25, 2023, the deadline is May 21, 2023. Starting May 22, all level play will be for assessed players only.
Will the ratings distribution be used when creating the outdoor schedule
Yes. We typically take a look at the percentage of the club that each skill rating is and attempt to give them that amount of prime time. It will never be perfect but we do our best to keep it fair for everyone.
I have a rating from a teaching pro, how do I use it?
If it was performed by a certified teaching pro to the standards of USA Pickleball and included game play, please email a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject "RATINGS - 'Your Name'"
NOTE: Failure to put the subject in correctly will delay us processing your rating change
You will need to provide full information about the pro who rated you including a link to their credentials.
Failure to provide this information will most certainly delay us accepting the results.
I have a rating assessment from another club or place of play, where should I send it?
Unfortunately, if the assessment is not in the format of the USA Pickleball tests as listed above, we will have to reject it. In an effort to keep things consistent, we will only accept the USA Pickleball tests performed by a certified pro that included game play.
If I am assessed for one level and I demonstrate that I should have tried for a higher level, will I be moved up.
No, you will be given the level you were assessed for and encouraged to be assessed for a higher level.
Once I have been assessed, am I stuck at that level for the rest of the year?
We intend to have ratings sessions as we see the demand for them. You will have the opportunity to be reassessed at that time. Alternatively, you can go to a teaching pro and ask for an assessment using the USA Pickleball criteria so long as it includes game play.
The 3.5 test mentions stacking, do I really need to stack?
The test says you need basic knowledge of stacking and when to use it. The test does not mention that you need to stack.
There are times when stacking is desirable:
You have a left handed and a right handed player on the same team. With stacking, you can keep the forehands in the middle
You have a stronger player with more mobility. You may want to stack to keep their forehand in the middle more often
Some tests mention tournament play. Do I really have to go in tournaments to get a rating?
No, we are not concerned with tournament play.
Do the assessment sessions count towards my advanced bookings (Prime Time)?
Will the assessments be an annual thing?
We are not currently planning on doing this annually.
Will I receive a certificate to prove my rating?
You will receive a copy of the form that we have on the website. That doesn't mean that other clubs are required to accept your rating.
If I don't get the rating I wanted, what are my options?
First, we would strongly recommend working on the items the pro went over with you after the assessment. These are the things they saw that held you back from achieving the level you desire.
If you need help with them, talk to a certified pro about taking lessons from them. They can help you by showing you proper form and skills and giving you drills to help maintain them.
Re-test. (We do feel this may not be the best action if you haven't at least practised and improved upon what was went over with you by the pro.)
Re-test At the club: As noted above, your membership included one free assessment. You may book into another session for a re-test at your own cost. We Your re-test will likely be with the same pro.
Re-test elsewhere: As noted above, the assessment must be done by a certified pro to USA Pickleball standards (forms are listed above) and must include gameplay. This will be at your own cost.
If I don't get the rating I wanted, do I have to wait to re-test?
For 3.5 and above, the club has implemented a 60 day waiting period to be re-tested
What do the 0,1, 2 or 3 on the test indicate?
0 - Not observed or not able to execute
1 - Attempted but very poorly executed/needs work
2 - Good basic form but needs work
3 - Solid consistent performance
*NOTE: These are for the skill level you are being tested for.
Example for 3.5 assessment for dinking:
You were asked to demonstrate your dinking skills:
0 - Couldn't repeatedly land your dinks in the opponent's kitchen or repeatedly hit the net or repeatedly left them attackable.
1 - Could sometimes land dinks in the kitchen. Many dinks were either "floated" which would not put pressure on their opponent or were left attackable or were hit into the net or out. This skill still needs work.
2 - Could land majority of dinks in the kitchen and put some pressure on their opponent. This skill still needs work.
3 - Could land majority of dinks in the kitchen and put pressure on their opponent. This skill is good for this level.
Why are members going elsewhere to get their assessments?
We assume it is to get it done quicker.
Shouldn't all members' assessments be done in the same environment?
It would be ideal, but we have limited resources such as court time and pro availability.
Does my Skill Assessment Credit have any cash value?