What Is a 3.5 Pickleball Player? And How To Reach 4.0!

Two 3.5 pickleball players watching a match

If you’re a seasoned pickleball player, the court action and companionship have likely become second nature. Yet did you ever think about what is a 3.5 pickleball player? The USAPA has set up a rating system that varies from 1.0 (beginner) to 5.0 (advanced). It’s beneficial to understand where your skills so you can compete at a higher level!

If you’re wondering how to strengthen your pickleball skills, this post is here to help. We’ll provide an in-depth look at the attributes and capabilities of a 3.5 player so that you can evaluate where your game stands and which areas need more attention. With it, you can determine who might challenge or surpass you among local players and track what it takes to achieve higher ratings on the court – starting with progressing from 3.5 and potentially up to 4.0+.

What is a 3.5 Pickleball Player?

A 3.5-pickleball player is comfortable playing competitive games. They’re skilled at proper footwork, stroke technique, and soft shot placement. They can execute a variety of medium paced shots, such as dinks, drives, and volleys, with increased consistency and control.

They also understand strategy well and can adjust their play based on their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, they have good court positions and can make consistent returns, even on difficult shots.

How Do I Know My Pickleball Skill Level?

Confusion can be a familiar feeling when understanding the pickleball rating system. Explicitly talking about self-assessment ratings – a two-digit numerical score – here is an outline of what you need to know:

There are three main types of pickleball skill ratings; Self Assessment, UTPR, and DUPR. For further information on all three methods and details for each one, please refer to our comprehensive post, which delves into the complete breakdown of all systems in more depth.

Self Assessment:

By leveraging the pickleball ratings system, players can accurately assess and rate their skill level. This assessment ranges from 1.0 (beginner) to 6.0 (seasoned professionals), allowing athletes to recognize where they currently stand, pinpoint areas for growth, and set achievable goals accordingly!


The USA Pickleball Association, the authoritative figure of pickleball, classifies players according to their skill levels with a UTPR from 1.000 for novices up to 6.999 for the most experienced athletes. This rating system doesn’t depend on age and helps individuals identify opponents that fit their level of play and experience.


Pickleball players everywhere are taking up the Davenport University Pickleball Rating (DUPR) system for its precision and accuracy in measuring their level of play. The DUPR system is quickly becoming a go-to tool to accurately rate a pickleball player’s skill set, making it an increasingly popular choice among enthusiasts. Read more about it here.

What Is a 3.5 Pickleball Player. Self assesment

How Do Self-Ratings Work?

Pickleball rating is a subjective self-evaluation based on seven skills that determine your two-point recreation and tournament play score. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive guide to becoming an even better player, with actionable tips and advice on maximizing your time and potential. All these areas are necessary when assessing the skill level of pickleball players.

      • Backhand returns

      • Forehand shots

      • Serves

      • Dink / Drop shots

      • Volleys

      • 3rd shots

      • Overall strategy

    Most beginning players are 1.0s – new to pickleball and without any sporting background. In this stage, you will be perfecting your foundation strokes but still, find it difficult during long rallies. You may need guidance with scoring and rule-following at first, although once these basic rules are understood, your rating will rapidly ascend to 2.5-3.0!


    What Skills Does a 3.5 Pickleball Player Have?

    Now that you have a solid understanding of the skills assessed and how to level up, let’s talk about what traits a 3.5-pickleball player has.

        • Good hand-eye coordination and footwork: They can react quickly to the ball and move efficiently around the court.

        • The ability to consistently hit a variety of shots: They have a good understanding of shot placement and can execute a variety of shots with control and accuracy.

        • Knowledge of basic pickleball strategy and the ability to execute it during play: They understand the importance of shot placement, ball control, and positioning on the court and can adjust their strategy based on the situation.

        • The ability to serve accurately with moderate power and spin: They can serve with control and vary the speed and spin of their serves.

        • Good net play and ability to execute overheads: They are comfortable at the net and can effectively hit volleys, dinks, and overheads.

        • The ability to cover the court and move effectively: They can quickly and efficiently reach balls.

        • The ability to play doubles and doubles strategy: They understand the dynamics of doubles play and can adjust their strategy and positioning accordingly.

      How Good Is a 3.5 Pickleball Player?

      With a pickleball skill rating of 3.5, you play at an intermediate level with enough understanding of the fundamentals and game tactics to play pickleball with others at similar skill levels. They can compete in local tournaments with success.

      With practice and guidance, a 3.5 pickleball player can become a 4.0 or higher-ranked player with the right resources!

      Read our post on pickleball drills you can do at home to improve your hand-eye coordination and more.

      3.5 pickleball player serving

      Where To Put Your Focus As A 3.5 Player

      Moving up a level in pickleball can be challenging, but it’s possible with enough practice and guidance. Here are some tips to help you improve your game and move up from 3.5 to 4.0:

      Backhand returns 

      If you want to move up your pickleball skill ratings successfully, your backhand shot is an absolute must. Focus on Maximizing power and control for this game-changing return. It’s essential to master the proper body mechanics and a strong grip.

      Forehand shots 

      Make sure you’re ready to go with pickleball power shots – they are your ultimate weapon! You will hit pinpoint forehand shots every time with the right approach, from good footwork and wrist action. These small details combine to create powerful and precise executions that can send any opponent packing.

      An excellent service 

      Utilizing a strategic serve is an ideal way to gain the advantage and leave your opponents in disarray from the very start. If you take the time to learn different serving techniques, such as lobs, drives, or spin serves, you’ll understand which type of serve fits each situation best.

      Dink and drop shots 

      Dinking is an invaluable weapon for throwing off your opponents and making them second-guess themselves. Practice the fundamentals of dinking often to ensure you can hit precise, reliable shots with a soft game. Consistency is vital; it’s necessary to float the ball over the net gracefully when controlling a drop shot at your opponent’s feet.


      Harnessing the power of decisive shots to clinch points can be a game-changer. Developing your volleys will help you capitalize on opponents’ weaknesses and successfully finish rallies. From footwork to paddle positioning, this is an essential skill that all players should hone to excel at pickleball.

      The third shot 

      With this speedy to medium paced shot, you can gain the upper hand in your games. Focus on court position and meticulous shot selection and placement to hit the appropriate third shot no matter what happens.

      Overall strategy 

      Strategy is essential to have a robust game plan that aligns with your playing style. Developing this strategy will take you to the next level of expertise and allow you to stay ahead of your opponents no matter what situation or match-up arises. From power shots and court position techniques to honing mental focus – all are key components for becoming an elite player!

      3.5 pickleball competition

      How Do You Go From 3.5 to 4.0 In Pickleball?

      To move from a 3.5 to a 4.0 player rating in pickleball, you will need to improve your skills and overall level of play. Here are some steps you can take to achieve this:

          1. Practice regularly: Consistent practice is crucial to improve your skills and overall level of play.

          1. Focus on specific areas: Identify the areas of your game that need improvement and focus on them during practice. For example, if your serve needs improvement, practice your service regularly.

          1. Take lessons: Consider taking lessons from a qualified coach to improve your skills and understanding of the game.

          1. Play with better players: Playing against better players can help you to identify and improve the weaknesses in your game and help you to learn new strategies and techniques.

          1. Watch and learn: Watch pickleball videos, learn from the best players, and pay attention to their techniques and strategies.

          1. Get fit: Playing pickleball is physically demanding, so make sure you are in good physical condition.

          1. Play in tournaments: Participating in tournaments can help you to improve your skills, gain experience and confidence, and test your abilities against other players.

          1. Keep learning: Keep learning about the rules, strategies, and techniques, and apply them in your game.

        Remember that improvement takes time and practice, be patient, and don’t get discouraged.

        What is the difference between a 3.5 and 4.0 pickleball player?

        A 3.5 pickleball player is considered to be intermediate level, with good stroke mechanics and the ability to execute a variety of shots. They have a good understanding of the rules and strategies of the game. A 4.0 player is considered advanced, with a high skill level and athleticism. They can execute a wide range of shots with precision and control and strongly understand the game’s strategies.

        Remember to have fun along the way and enjoy the game of pickleball! With some hard work, practice, and dedication, you can reach 3.5-4.0 status in no time.


        The 3.5 pickleball skill level is considered intermediate and requires practice and dedication to reach this level. Players should focus on developing their serves, returns, volleys, drop shots, and third shots and understanding game strategy and tactics.

        Improving communication with other players and becoming comfortable in competitive environments will also help them progress to the next level. 

        Cross-training, mental preparation, and learning the pros’ tricks through instructional videos are also essential in becoming a higher-level player. You can become your best pickleball player with some hard work and dedication! Good luck!