While pickleball may have started as a casual backyard pastime, it has rapidly evolved into a highly competitive sport at the professional level.
There are multiple professional tours (e.g., the APP and PPA), and pros like Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters battle other professionals for prize money and lucrative endorsement deals with paddle, ball, and clothing companies.
With pickleball still a fledgling sport, the sport doesn’t yet have a de facto ranking system, and there are currently several official ranking systems for ranking pickleball players.
In this article, we’ll review the main world pickleball ranking systems, highlight the top-ranked players in Men’s and Women’s singles and doubles, and recommend which ranking system you should use when debating friends and family on the world’s highest-ranked pickleball players!
Pickleball World Rankings Systems
There are currently 5 rankings systems for professional pickleball players:
- The Association of Pickleball Players (APP)
- the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) Rankings
- Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating (DUPR) Rankings
- USA Tournament Pickleball Ratings (UTPR)
- Global Pickleball Rankings (GPR)
These systems all vary in a number of ways, including:
- Which tournaments are used to calculate results
- Which players are included in the rankings
- How frequently the rankings are updated
The main difference, however, is that some of these systems base rankings on points accumulated by advancing in tournament draws, while others use an algorithm to create player ratings (and rankings) based on wins/losses and opponent rating.
Note that pickleball rankings are different from pickleball skill levels - rankings use a metric of some sort to list players from best to worst. Pickleball skill levels (2.0 to 5.5+) are used to group players based on their pickleball skills.
Points versus Numeric Pickleball Ranking Systems
Most current global pickleball rankings systems (e.g., the APP, PPA, World Pickleball Rankings and GPR) use a points system where players accumulate points based on how they finish in a tournament.
The further you get in a tourney draw, the more points you accumulate. “Who” you beat, and their rating, is not factored into the rankings.
Many sports (tennis and golf for example) use a points-based system to rank players. However, these systems reward volume of matches and tournaments played and may not always accurately reflect the true skill of a given player.
For example, assume the best player in the world plays in and wins only 4 tournaments during the year. Assume a mid-tier player plays 12 tournaments during the year, never winning one but finishing middle of the pack in most.
It’s possible that at the end of the year the mid-tier player would be ranked ahead of the better player that won both tournaments he or she entered.
Other ranking systems, like DUPR and UTPR, use an algorithm to create a 2-3 digit numeric rating (e.g., 4.5, 5.42, etc) for each player. DUPR and UTPR factor in each tournament match, whether it was a win or loss, and the rating of the opponent.
This means the quality of wins (or losses) is a key component in the rating. Beat a good player with a better rating than you, your rating will likely increase. Lose to a lower-rated player and your ranking will likely nudge down.
All things equal, we think the the algorithmic, numeric ratings approach is a more accurate reflection of the skills of individual players relative to their piers.
Now, let's dig into each world ranking system.
The Association of Pickleball Players (APP) Rankings
The APP is one of the 2 main professional tours in the US (the other being the PPA). Like the PPA, the APP hosts and organizes pro and amateur tournaments at locations all over the US throughout the year.
Unfortunately the APP and PPA have contracts in place with pro players, so many of the top players only play on 1 of the 2 tours. This means the APP and PPA rankings only include players that play in their tournaments.
So, for example, Tyson Mcguffin is a PPA-contracted pro, so he only plays in PPA tournaments (and will only show in the PPA rankings).
Here’re the current top 5 APP professional singles players for both men and women:
As mentioned above, the APP uses a points-based system for its professional rankings. Players can accumulate points in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles, and players are ranked in each division based on how they finish in each draw they play.
Pro Pickleball Association Rankings
Like the APP, the PPA uses a points-based system and has contracts with its top pros, so PPA rankings do not include the professional pickleball players on the APP tour.
PPA rankings include “Season Total” points, which are the points a player has accumulated over the last 52 weeks, as well as the “Race Total” points (which are the points a player has accumulated in this calendar year).
Race Points are used to rank players and determine the top 8 players or teams to qualify for a year-end tournament.
Dynamic Universal Player Rating (DUPR)
DUPR started as a rating method (much like a golf handicap) to give a numeric value to each pickleball player.
DUPR calculates a 3 digit numeric rating (on a scale of 2.0 to 8.0) for each player based on their wins/losses and the DUPR rating of their opponent.
Here's a look at Anna Leigh Waters, the number 1 rated women's singles and doubles player on DUPR:
As of 2023 DUPR, began compiling player ratings and publishing actual player rankings based on players’ DUPR ratings:
In our opinion, DUPR is the most accurate pickleball rating and ranking system currently available. In addition, DUPR is updated regularly and is being used by more organizations and tournaments as the standard for tournament draws and seeding.
USA Pickleball (USAPA) Rankings (UTPR)
UTPR ratings are earned by all professional and amateur players who compete in pickleball tournaments sanctioned by the USAPA.
A player’s UTPR rating is based on their tournament win/loss results as well as their opponents' UTPR. Players are rated on a scale of 2.5 to 6.5, with 2.5 equaling beginner level and 6.5 being a world class player.
Match results are recorded at tournaments and then fed into the UTPR system to produce a 4 digit ranking. The 4-digit calculation is then rounded down to give a 2-digit skill level (e.g., 3.5, 4.0, etc).
Although the UTPR rating system is the only officially sanctioned (by USAPA) pickleball skill level rating method, UTPR is not as accurate as other methods (e.g., DUPR) in assessing a player’s skill level.
For example, in the Men’s 5.5 ratings, top pros like Julian Arnold have the same UTPR rating as recreational and senior pro players:
UTPR 5.5 Men’s Doubles Ratings (July 2023)
World Pickleball Rankings
The World Pickleball Rankings were the official rankings used by pickleball.com, which is the software provider that helps run all PPA, APP, and USAPA pickleball tournaments. However, as of December 2022 the rankings are no longer being updated as pickleball.com moves to a different ranking system for players and tournaments.
Global Pickleball Rankings
Global Pickleball Rankings, or GPR, are determined by using the 15 best tournament results for players. However, GPR only appears to use international tournaments in its rankings, so the top players in the world (who compete in US-based APP or PPA events), are not included in the rankings.
World Pickleball Rankings: Summary
Like pickleball, the sport’s ranking systems are constantly evolving and there isn’t yet a standard system used by the sport’s governing groups.
However, we believe DUPR currently has the most comprehensive approach with its statistical- and performance-based methods. And although DUPR is not without flaws, it is currently the most accurate ranking as well as the most comprehensive pickleball ranking system since all professional players are included in its rankings.
Thanks for reading, and happy pickling!
World Pickleball Rankings (FAQs)
Do players have different rankings for singles, doubles, and mixed?
A: Yes! All pickleball ranking and rating systems assign rankings to players for each event type they play. So players will usually have different ratings in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.
What is the best world pickleball rankings system?
A: In our opinion, DUPR is the most comprehensive and accurate rating and ranking system for pickleball players. DUPR is regularly updated, is clear about the variables used to calculate ratings, and is becoming the standard rating and ranking system in pickleball as more organizations use it for tournament play.