What Level Am I?

Gale Leach, author of The Art of Pickleball,  looked at a number of online documents about assessing skill levels in pickleball. She compared their lists and created this composite -  Pickleball Skill Level Assessment Definitions of the required skills for the levels from 1.0 to 5.0.

Level 1.0 
  • New - has minimal knowledge of the game.  
Level 1.5 
  • Has taken at least one beginner lesson 
  • Learning how to serve 
  • Developing a forehand 
  • Fails to return easy balls frequently
  • Learning to play the game, scoring and some basic rules  
Level 2.0 
  • Has participated in novice and beginning skills practice 
  • Moves around the court in a balanced and safe manner 
  • Gets some serves “in” 
  • Realizes aspects of score-keeping, rules and where to stand on the court during serve, receive of serve, and general play 
  • Has some basic stroke skills, backhand, forehand, volley but has obvious weaknesses Familiar with where to stand in doubles play  
Level 2.5
  • Able to serve “in” more regularly 
  • Knows the two bounce rule and demonstrates it most times 
  • Knows where to stand on the court during serve, serve receive and general play 
  • Is mastering keeping score 
  • Aware of the soft game and occasionally tries to dink 
  • Working on form for ground strokes, accuracy is variable 
  • Makes longer lasting slow paced rallies 
  • Sometimes lobs with forehand with varying degrees of success 
  • Beginning to approach the non-volley zone to hit volleys 
  • Court coverage is weak but is improving 
  • Knows fundamental rules and can keep score  
Level 3.0
  • Working to keep the serve and serve receive deep 
  • Moves quickly towards the non-volley zone when opportunity is there 
  • Trying to make flatter returns (where appropriate) 
  • More aware of their partner’s position on the court and moving more as a team 
  • Developing more power in shots 
  • Beginning to attempt lobs and dinks with little success and doesn’t fully understand when and why they should be used
  • Demonstrates improved skills with all the basic shot strokes and shot placement but lacks control when trying for direction, depth or power on shots  
Level 3.5
  • Demonstrates a broad knowledge of the rules of the game 
  • Gets high majority of serves “in” 
  • Able to serve and return serve deep 
  • Hits to the weak side of opponent often 
  • Demonstrates more strategies of playing during games 
  • Works better with partners in communicating, covering court, moving to net 
  • With varying consistency executes: lobs, forehand/backhand ground strokes, overheads, net volleys, and sustained dinking 
  • Starting to use drop shots in order to get to the net 
  • Knows when to make some specific placed shots in the game 
  • Working on mixing up soft shots with power shots to create an advantage 
  • Hits fewer balls out of bounds or in the net 
  • Dinks mostly in opponents' kitchen and dinks lower over the net 
  • Able to sustain dinking in the game 
  • Has a moderate number of unforced errors  
Level 4.0
  • Beginning to play more consistently in all phases of the game 
  • Anticipates opponents shots resulting in good court position 
  • Primarily plays offensively 
  • Controls and places serves and return of serves to best advantage 
  • Puts strategy into play in the game 
  • Consistently varies shots to create a competitive advantage 
  • Works and moves well with partner - easily switches court positions when required 
  • Very comfortable playing at the non-volley zone. 
  • Works with partner to control the line, keeping opponents back and driving them off line 
  • Can block volleys directed at them 
  • Has good footwork and moves laterally, backward and forward with ease 
  • Uses strategy in dinking to get a put-away shot 
  • Consistently executes effective drop shots 
  • Demonstrates 3rd shot strategies: drop shot, lobs and fast paced ground strokes Hits a low number of unforced errors per game 
Level 4.5
  • Able to regularly convert a hard shot to a soft shot 
  • Exhibits patience at a superior level 
  • Shows noticeably increased skills, a higher level of strategy, quickness of hands and movement, judicious use of power, superior placement of shots, anticipation of play, sustained volleying skills, superior put-aways – all with consistency 
  • Understands strategy and can adjust style of play and game plan according to opponents strength and weaknesses and court position 
  • Beginning to master dink and drop shots 
  • Makes very few unforced errors  
Level 5.0
  • Has mastered all skills and strategies 
  • Dependable in stressful situations 
  • Athletic ability, quickness, and agility separates these players

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