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 like-skilled players 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 150 active members, we are gradually transitioning away from self-rating as the means for finding the right level for players.

This 2023 outdoor season, we will implement the following plan:

Changes at the Novice Level

Novice 2.0 – All players who are brand new to pickleball will be given a Novice 2.0 designation on our Member and Events Management System (PCNS).

Novice 2.5 – All players in our current indoor Novice group have been given a Novice 2.5 designation on our Member and Events Management System (PCNS).

Novice 2.0 and Novice 2.5 will be scheduled to play at the same time but separately on the Larch Court Schedule. 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.

Progression from Novice 2.0 to Novice 2.5

Novice 2.0 wishing to move to Novice 2.5 will be informally assessed using our 2.5 Assessment Tool which identifies the expected skills for play at Novice 2.5. Our 2.5 Assessment Tool will be shared with all our Novice 2.0 players and will be available on our website in the next few days. This informal assessment will be carried out by BVPA members who are knowledgeable about the skills expected at Novice 2.5.

Progression from Novice 2.5 to Intermediate 3.0

Novice 2.5 wishing to move to Intermediate 3.0 will be informally assessed using our 3.0 Assessment Tool which identifies the expected skills for play at Intermediate 3.0. Our 3.0 Assessment Tool will be shared in the next few days. This informal assessment will be carried out by BVPA members who are knowledgeable about the skills expected at Intermediate 3.0.

Changes at Intermediate Level

Our Intermediate Level will be renamed Intermediate 3.0. This is a commonly accepted pickleball designation for intermediate play. 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.

All players who have been playing regularly and consistently in BVPA Intermediate sessions will receive the Intermediate 3.0 designation on our Member and Events Management System (PCNS).

Intermediate players who have occasionally played at BVPA Advanced sessions will be deemed Intermediate 3.0 until such time as they successfully challenge for BVPA Advanced play.

Mentorship and Player Development Clinics will be central to enhancing the level of play at Intermediate 3.0. Intermediate 3.0 sessions which are mentored will be identified on the weekly court schedule. Mentorship lesson plans will be based on the Skills matrix for Intermediate play.

Changes at Advanced Play

Effective May 15, 2023, BVPA Advanced play will no longer be by self-rating.

All players who have been playing regularly and consistently at an advanced skill level in BVPA Advanced sessions will retain their Advanced designation.

Players who have played occasionally at BVPA Advanced sessions may challenge for their Advanced designation. However, they may not participate in BVPA Advanced play until they have successfully met the requirements of the Challenge process.

Progression from Intermediate 3.0 to Advanced Play

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 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, Interim Assessment Team Lead to initiate the appropriate process in accordance with the above guidelines.

The Assessment Team Lead will make the appropriate scheduling arrangements for those players who wish to challenge for an Advanced designation.

Players who wish to appeal their designation may do so to the Assessment Team Lead.

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

So What Does This Mean for You as the Outdoor Play Season Starts on May 15, 2023?

It means that players who currently have a BVPA Intermediate 3.0 designation may not sign up for Advanced play until they have completed a successful Challenge process. Signups will be monitored and changes will be initiated if inaccurate sign ups appear on the weekly sign ups.

It means that if you wish to Challenge for an Advanced designation, you should contact Helen Thomson who will schedule a Challenge round robin for you. Use

It means you should watch for another email in the next few days which will highlight links to our Skills Matrix, our 2.5 Assessment Tool and our 3.0 Assessment Tool. These will also be posted on our website. It is important that you understand the skills expectations for each level.

It means you should consider signing up for an appropriate Player Development Clinic on June 5-8, 2023.

The Clinic Instructors know about these changes to how we organize and Leslie and Cathy are gearing their instruction to help you achieve your pickleball goals. Signups for the Clinics should be according to your current designation and not the one to which you aspire. If your designation changes, we will help get you into the correct Clinic at that point.

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.