There were a lot of changes in early 2024 at DUPR, a free pickleball skill rating system. DUPR is no longer affiliated with Major League Pickleball and it has new owners – Andre Agassi among them. DUPR also has a new website and a new algorithm.
Why do I care about DUPR and skill ratings? Because pickleball tournaments are more fun when players know their ratings and enter the right skill category.
It’s been a while since I held a DUPR event. Initially I was excited because DUPR offered a free pathway to get a skill rating. The reality of using it dulled my enthusiasm.
Entering scores into the previous system required an enormous amount of clicks. For a pickleball organizer like me who might be entering 100+ scores at a time, it was unusable.
DUPR has an option to upload the scores in bulk by spreadsheet, but the spreadsheet requires a lot of finessing to get the right format. Even I found it challenging – and I am a data journalist who loves spreadsheets.
So I am curious about the changes to the website. I have not uploaded scores yet, but it looks like they made improvements to make everything easier.
DUPR’s new pickleball rating system
DUPR updated its rating algorithm on Jan. 30. Here are the main changes:
- Points Matter. Was this a tight match or a blowout? DUPR now evaluates the closeness of the match, so a score of 11-0 will have a bigger impact on your rating than a close match of 11-9 against that same opponent
- Recency Matters. A match you played today will impact your rating more than a match you played six months ago.
- Total Match Count Matters. If you’ve played in a lot of matches, your rating will fluctuate less compared to a player with a lower match count.
- Every Match Matters (even against unrated players). Every match counts towards your rating, even if you are playing against someone who is unrated or new to DUPR.
Previous iterations of the DUPR rating system only took into account whether the match was a win or loss. By changing to a system that also looks at points scored, ratings are more accurate.
DUPR applied its new algorithm to all the previous games in its database but made the choice to only change a player’s rating if the rating went UP using the new system.
Initializing your DUPR rating
All players new to DUPR are rated 3.5 (no self-rating!) and their rating is adjusted as they play more games. This initialization process takes about 15 to 20 games. I have read initialization scenarios that indicate strong players may be penalized if their initial games are played against weaker players and/or players who do not have DUPR ratings.
For example, a new DUPR player who a 4.5-level competitor plays her initial games against 3.5-level players and wins. DUPR may give her a new rating of 3.7. But if those initial games had been victories against 4.0 players, she would have earned a 4.0 or higher rating. After the initialization process, it takes more games to move your rating so those early games have a lasting effect.
DUPR is working on fixing this, but in the meantime I suggest that you play your first 15 to 20 DUPR games against well-matched opponents that have established DUPR ratings.
Games with non-DUPR players
The new algorithm allows you to enter scores even if you played someone who does not have a DUPR profile. DUPR will create a profile for the unknown player, who can later claim the profile. I’m not sure how they handle this for people with common names – seems tricky. But it does help fill the database more quickly and eliminates the barrier that everyone on the court must have a DUPR profile.
DUPR and Pickleball Brackets
When DUPR came blazing into the spotlight last year, they announced a partnership with MLP and Pickleball.com, which includes the Pickleball Brackets, the popular pickleball tournament software. At one point, Pickleball Brackets users could add their DUPR ID to their Pickleball Brackets profile. That option has disappeared.
But a DUPR representative told me that tournament directors who use Pickleball Brackets can contact DUPR and ask for their tournament scores to be included in the DUPR database. DUPR has some method of ingesting the scores once they have the tournament director’s blessing … no spreadsheet required.
It always seem like a stretch to me that Pickleball Brackets and DUPR would collaborate, since PIckleball Brackets has its own rating system.
Other pickleball rating systems
There are a few competing rating systems on the horizon. The Association of Pickleball Players (APP) announced that the APP would exclusively rely on UTR ratings. The tennis rating giant former known as Universal Tennis, and now known as UTR Sports, created a UTR-P rating for pickleball and already has software in many tennis facilities around the country. UTR tennis ratings are well known for their accuracy, which was built by drawing tennis scores from almost any source.
There is UTPR, the USA Pickleball Tournament Player Rating that is only available to members of USA Pickleball who play in sanctioned tournaments. That is a small circle of people. You can read an excellent comparison of UTPR and DUPR at the Sports Destination Management website, UTPR vs. DUPR: Decisions for Pickleball Tournament Owners.
I don’t care who wins the rating wars, but I would like one system to emerge as victorious – and it should be free and easy to use. That would be one small step for pickleball players and one giant leap for tournament directors.
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