Pickleball Skill Level Rating Guide


AVAC® Pickleball Skill Level Self Rating Guide

The following skill level sets are a guide for evaluating your own level. This information is not an official definition of skill level it is intended to assist a player in rating their abilities so they can be matched with other players of same skill level. For AVAC® Pickleball Players, this guide will help you determine what level of play you would be best suited for if you participate in AVAC® tournaments or round-robins & clinics.
The following lists each skill level from 2.5 to 4.0+. It also adds specific detail about skills required to be at a given level.


Note: Above the 2.0 level, all levels should be able to demonstrate most of the skills for their level plus most of the skills from preceding levels. Thus a 2.5 level player, for example, demonstrates most skills in the 2.5 level list as well as most skills in the 2.0 level list, & so on.

2.0 Skill Level

• Has taken the Bend Parks & Rec beginners lesson (or demonstrates equivalent knowledge)
• Moves around court in balanced, safe manner
• Gets some serves “in”, perhaps not regularly
• Realizes aspects of score-keeping, rules & where to stand on court during serve, receipt of serve, & general play
• Has some basic stroke skills

2.5 Skill Level

• Able to serve “in” more regularly
• Knows two-bounce rule & demonstrates it most times
• Knows where to stand on the court during serve, receipt of serve & general play
• Is mastering keeping score.
• Attempts to dink but not always effective at it
• Working on their form for ground strokes, accuracy is variable
• Can keep the ball in play longer
• Sometimes lobs with forehand with varying degrees of success.

3.0 Skill level

• Knows the fundamental rules & can keep score
• Regularly gets serves “in” to mid-court or deeper
• Dinks mostly in opp. kitchen & is dinking lower over the net
• Able to sustain dinking in the game
• Using both forehand and backhand on returns & forehands on overhead returns
• Working at keeping the serve deep & return of serve deep
• Moves quickly towards the non-volley zone when opportunity is there
• Trying to make flatter returns (where appropriate)
• Aware of partner’s position on the court & moving as a team
• Developing more power and/or softness in their shots
• Somewhat a one-dimensional player working at broadening their playing repertoire.

3.5 Skill level

• Demonstrates a broad knowledge of the rules of the game
• Gets a high majority of serves in deep & returns serve deep
• Often hits to the weak side of opponent
• Demonstrates strategies of playing during games
• Actively works with partners in communicating, covering court, moving to net
• With varying consistency executes: lobs, forehand/backhand ground strokes, overheads, net volleys, & sustained dinking
• Some use of drop shots to get to the net
• Specifically places shots rather than just hitting shots anywhere
• Selective mixing up soft shots with power shots to create an advantage
• Hits fewer balls out of bounds or in the net
• Has a moderate # of unforced errors per game
• Demonstrates ability to intentionally play in offensive mode
• Self-correcting after play is over
• Demonstrates extended periods of multi-dimensional play

4.0 Skill Level

• Primarily plays in an offensive mode rather than reactively
• Controls & places serves and return of serves to best advantage
• Puts advanced playing strategy into the game, particularly in dinking
• Consistently varies shots for competitive advantage, uses power shots selectively
• Communicates & moves well with partner — easily “switches” court positions
• Very comfortable playing at the non-volley zone. Works with partner to control the line,
keeping opponents back & driving them off the line.
• Can block hard volleys directed at them
• Has good footwork and moves laterally, backward & forward with ease.
• Hits overhead shots consistently, often as putways
• Ability to change a hard shot to a soft shot
• Consistently executes effective drop shots that are not easily returned for advantage
• Can effectively poach
• Hits a low # of unforced errors per game
• Regularly demonstrates “anticipation of play”
• Self-correcting during play
• Consistently is a mult-dimensional player and/or is exceptionally dominate in a limited playing repertoire.

4.5 – 5.0 Skill Level

• Can regularly convert a hard shot to a soft shot
• Exhibits patience in play at a superior level
• Shows noticeably increased skills, a higher level of strategy, quickness of hands & movement, judicious use of power, superior placement of shots, superb anticipation of play, sustained volleying skills, superior put-aways —all with consistency
• Makes very few unforced errors

Differences between 4.5 & 5.0 are subjective – but, generally, each of the four points above is even more pronounced at the 5.0 level.