Bow Valley Pickleball Association

Skill Levels and Progression

The BVPA Skills Matrix is attached HERE.

The BVPA Level of Play assessment tool is attached HERE

Why do skill levels matter?

We want you to have fun and learn and grow in pickleball. Self-rating yourself too high, beyond your capability level, will not make pickleball fun for you or other members.

Playing pickleball with players with similar skills will allow everyone to be competitive and improve their play and enjoyment. When players’ skills are mismatched, it is frustrating for all players.

In the beginning, BVPA grouped players on the basis of self-rating but now, with a rapidly growing membership, we have transitioned away from self-rating as the means for finding the right level for players. The commonly accepted progression is 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0 and beyond at the pro level.

Mentorship and Player Development Clinics will be central to enhancing the level of play at all levels of play. 

We have implemented the following plan:

Beginner - All players brand new to pickleball will start at the beginner designation. All of our beginner play is mentored, and after one session members will reclassified as Novice.

Novice 2.0 – Players with basic skills will be given a Novice 2.0 designation. Novice 2.0 wishing to move to Novice 2.5 will be informally assessed by BVPA members who are knowledgeable about the skills expected at Novice 2.5 using the BVPA Level of Assessment Tool noted above.

Novice 2.5 – Players with stronger and more consistent basic skills. Novice 2.5 wishing to move to Intermediate 3.0 will be informally assessed by BVPA members who are knowledgeable about the skills expected at Intermediate 3.0 using the BVPA Level of Assessment Tool noted above.

Novice 2.0 and Novice 2.5 will be scheduled to play at the same time. Mentored sessions will be identified as such on the weekly court schedule. All mentorship will be based on our Skills Matrix with common lesson plans used by all mentor volunteers.

Intermediate 3.0 - Our Intermediate Level has been renamed Intermediate 3.0. This is a commonly accepted pickleball designation for intermediate play.

Advanced - All players who have been playing regularly and consistently at an advanced skill level in BVPA Advanced sessions will retain their Advanced designation. A Challenge process will be implemented for Intermediate 3.0 players who wish to play at BVPA Advanced sessions. The challenge process will also be applied for new BVPA members who join the club and expect to play at Advanced sessions. Our challenge process is modelled on a process which has been successfully used by other clubs when they were at a similar stage of development.

The Advanced Challenge Process

Challenge Candidates for Advanced designation must demonstrate their skills and game strategy in a Challenge Round Robin with 3 established Advanced players. The Challenging Candidate will play a full round robin of 3 games during which time they must achieve a cumulative total of 21 points in order to achieve an Advanced designation. If not successful, players may challenge again after a three week period during which they have time to improve their skills.

Accepted Ratings from Other Sources

Also accepted for BVPA Advanced play are players who have previously achieved a 3.5 or higher rating through formal means such as a Tournament Rating from play at sanctioned tournaments, a recognized club rating from another pickleball club or a commensurate DUPR rating. Supporting documentation is required.


Players who wish to move to a higher designation should contact Helen Thomson,, to initiate the appropriate process in accordance with the above guidelines.

Implementation of these changes will be led by the Assessment Team: Rosie Neil, Doug Thomson, Helen Thomson, Neil Skaluba, Mike Layton and John Walker.

Questions? Comments? Thoughts?

Since this is a significant step in the development of our club, we expect you will have questions so please, don’t be shy, ask away!

All clubs, as they evolve, move through these kinds of changes – it is just part of the nature of a successful pickleball club.