Last October, I wrote a column about skill ratings in pickleball, and how you go about getting one. Since then, I have partnered with Kristin Walla and Jillian Braverman at all my round-robin events. They are great players, great sponsors, and they have a great idea about ratings that may change your pickleball life.
Why do I say that? Well, in the fastest growing sport in America — pickleball — there is a rapidly growing problem: accurate ratings. Right now, the world of pickleball ratings is a bit like the Wild West. Not only are many players self-rating for tournaments well below their actual skill level, but also, some are being forced to stay in a lower level bracket, despite having drastically improved their skills after qualifying.
Most new players are just wondering, “Well, how good am I?” There should be a simple way to find out. Now, there may be a better way, and it’s called DUPR.
I invited Jillian, a former professional pickleball player and former Division 1 collegiate tennis player and CEO of DUPR, to explain this new system to me.
She was formerly head of commercial at Universal Tennis Rating, a global tennis player rating system intended to produce an objective, consistent, and accurate index of players' skill in the game of tennis. She is deeply passionate about democratizing technology and helping entrepreneurs bring their concepts to life.
What is DUPR and why should I care?
DUPR, which rhymes with “super,” stands for Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating and was developed in 2021 by Steve Kuhn, founder of Major League Pickleball (MLP). DUPR aims to be the most accurate, global rating system in pickleball.
How does it work?
All players, regardless of their age, gender, location or skill are rated on the same scale between 2.000-8.000 based on their match results.
Those accustomed to the typical bracketing system — with ratings ranging from 3.0 to about 5 — will find their DUPR rating fits within that scale, while at the top end, the professional ratings are expanded above 5.000 up to 8.000.
Ben Johns, the current No. 1 player, is rated 6.668, while an instructor like me, Mary, is rated 4.467.
DUPR is free and anyone can get rated. One match result is all it takes to acquire a DUPR rating. Even if four players who are all unrated play and post a score, if just one of those four players subsequently plays any rated player, all four players will become retroactively rated. This is what DUPR developers call “connectivity,” and it’s a beautiful thing.
DUPR is an algorithm that uses a player’s last 30 singles or 60 doubles eligible matches. The algorithm considers three factors:
Points Won: How many points did you win?
Victory: Did you win or lose?
Type of Result: Was this a self-posted rec play score, a league match, an unsanctioned tournament or a sanctioned tournament result?
Even if a player is down 10-2 in a match, he or she will still have the incentive to fight for every ball and every point. That’s a game-changer.
Here’s how it works: In each matchup, the algorithm assigns an “expected value” (EV) of points your team should win against your opponent. Suppose your opponents are rated higher than your team, your EV is 7 and you lose 8-11. Congratulations! You outperformed your EV and your rating will still go up.
DUPR is the only global rating system in pickleball that encompasses all of a player’s results and rates all players on the same universal scale from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. The DUPR system is designed to be gender blind and analyze only a player’s performance, not their age or their wingspan.
All results, regardless of event type, location or software provider, factor into your DUPR, including recreational games. Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Australia all now have clubs adopting DUPR as their official rating.
You may already have a DUPR rating
If you’ve ever played in a pickleball tournament, you most likely already have a DUPR rating and can claim your account at mydupr.com or by downloading the iOS or Android app. You also probably have experienced some of the more common issues: long wait times for a court, no warm-up courts, sandbagging and hyper age bracketing.
Currently, events are run within a 0.5 differential. This is way too high and creates completely unbalanced, non-level-based matches. After analyzing thousands of results, the DUPR team found that, on average, a medalist can be as high as 1 full point above their registered bracket (i.e. a 4.0 player winning a 3.0 bracket). Also, only 20% of matches actually go to three games. If the current rating systems worked, this number would be much higher. DUPR knows that competitive play occurs when each team’s rating is within a 0.250 differential. That’s called “DUPR neutral.”
Better tournaments, more fun?
Imagine the future of pickleball tournaments … no sandbagging, tighter bracketing, more games played, less wait time and more even matchups.
DUPR proponents say their system software means:
Every single match can be competitive
Players can find partners more easily (because the only requirement is skill, not age or gender)
Organizers can guarantee more matches
Organizers can also provide guaranteed time slots within three-hour windows
Bottom line: The sport is thirsty for an answer to the rating issue and DUPR is vying to be the solution. Give it a try!
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Pickleball: What is DUPR skill rating system and how do I get rated?