In October 2021 USA Pickleball commissioned a task force to evaluate the current Universal Tournament Pickleball Rating (UTPR) system. The goal of the task force was to determine features to be incorporated into a new rating system and make those recommendations to the USA Pickleball Board of Directors. Included in the effort was an exploration and comparison of other rating systems currently being used or planned for the sport.
The task force completed its work in early February and a review of a written report to the USA Pickleball Board of Directors took place on February 15. The report included no fewer than 17 recommended features that the task force considered to be important in a new rating system. The list of features includes the following:
- Game score as part of the algorithm. For example, the rationale is that a team or player scoring an 11-2 win is different than a win of 11-9.
- A more sophisticated weighting of players’ contributions to a doubles team. The current UTPR rates each player’s contribution in a 50/50 distribution. The task force determined there may be a more optimal distribution.
- The elimination, or at least significant mitigation, of ‘sandbagging,’ which impacts other players’ ratings when a player plays in a skill bracket below their true skill level.
- A requirement to provide a variance or confidence factor regarding how stable or accurate a rating is.
The task force also examined the relative strengths and weaknesses of a universal type of rating system for pickleball, in which players have one rating for singles and one for doubles, instead of separate ratings for singles, gender doubles and mixed doubles. The task force leaned in favor of not adopting a universal approach because the true advantages of such a system is thought to be optimized in ageless and genderless events, something the task force did not see as something happening in the near future in pickleball. The task force also recognized, however, some in pickleball don’t see the same degree of limitations with a universal system.
The Board of Directors accepted the report and asked that follow-on discussions take place with various organizations who reached out to USA Pickleball with requests for information about the task force’s work. Those discussions are currently underway.