Updated: Feb 8
Have you ever wonder what is your current tennis rating?
If you just started learning tennis, you are probably trying to consistently hit the tennis ball over the net and stay ‘alive’. You might be taking lessons from a tennis coach and every session, your coach teaches you how to hit forehands and backhands and practice with baskets and baskets of balls.
What about those who are already playing socially and not taking any lessons? You have a weekly gathering at your favorite tennis court and you play with your friends for two hours. A great workout! However, if you are seriously thinking of improving your tennis skills, you are not sure which direction to go.
How do you know where you are right now? How to get to the next level?
What is the next level by the way?
Find Out Your Tennis Rating With NTRP
Enter National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP).
Now, this rating system is not created by me.
The United States Tennis Association uses NTRP ratings to rate the players based on skill level.
It has different levels and each level describes the characteristics of the different aspects of the game. Want to know how does a 2.0 and 3.0 tennis forehand looks like? You can easily compare the characteristics.
Besides knowing your level, what are the other benefits in using NTRP?
I have categorized the benefits for the different groups of people:
For social players
Knowing your NTRP helps you to find players of similar levels to play with. Imagine a 4.5 player playing with a 2.0 player. I think the 4.5 player will end up coaching the 2.0 player than playing.
For competitive players
You definitely want to improve your tennis and win more matches right? Knowing your current level will give you an indication what is the next level to work towards.
You can also play with someone who is .5 level higher than you so that you can gain exposure to high-level players.
Know what are your strengths and weaknesses based on the characteristics. Don’t be surprised that your game is one-sided. You might possess a strong forehand but your serve is questionable. So work on your strengths and weaknesses and develop a game plan for yourself.
I think we are accountable to our players’ progress. But how do we reflect this accountability? Well, we can verbally tell them, “Your forehand has improved.” or “You need to work on your backhand more often.” Instead of giving vague feedback, show them the rating program, assess them and give them a rating.
From the rating, the player now knows that he/she needs to gain certain skills in order to get to the next level.
Formulate training program based on the players’ level. When the player and coach know the direction to go, the coach is able to plan every lesson with a specific purpose.
NTRP ratings are used for adult players or youths playing in an adult USTA competition. Some countries are using the rating as well. The ratings are divided into levels between 1.5 and 7.0. Unlike a Junior NTRP rating, the scale increases in .5 increments.
A player with a 1.5 NTRP rating has had limited experience with stroke development and is still working primarily on getting the ball into play and is not yet ready to compete. By contrast, a 3.0 player is fairly consistent when hitting medium-paced shots but is not comfortable with all strokes and lacks execution when trying for directional control, depth, pace or altering distance of shots.
At the top end of the rating spectrum, a 6.0 player typically has had intensive training for national tournaments or top-level collegiate competition and has obtained a national ranking. The 6.5 and 7.0 are world-class players.
So want to know the exact breakdown of each level?
Here they are:
Various Levels And Characteristics
This player has limited experience and is still working primarily on getting the ball into play.
PLAYING STYLE: This player needs on-court experience. This player has obvious stroke weaknesses but is familiar with basic positions for singles and doubles play.
FOREHAND: Incomplete swing; lacks directional intent
BACKHAND: Avoids backhands; erratic contact; grip problems; incomplete swing
SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Incomplete service motion; double faults common; toss is inconsistent; return of serve erratic
VOLLEY: Reluctant to play net; avoids BH; lacks footwork
PLAYING STYLE: This player is learning to judge where the ball is going although court coverage is weak. Can sustain a short rally of slow pace with other players of the same ability.
FOREHAND: Form developing; prepared for moderately paced shots
BACKHAND: Grip and preparation problems; often chooses to hit FH instead of BH
SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Attempting a full swing; can get the ball in play at slow pace; inconsistent toss; can return slow paced serve
VOLLEY: Uncomfortable at net especially on the BH side; frequently uses FH racket face on BH volleys SPECIAL SHOTS: Can lob intentionally but with little control; can make contact on overheads.
PLAYING STYLE: This player is fairly consistent when hitting medium paced shots, but is not comfortable with all strokes and lacks execution when trying for directional control, depth, or power. Most common doubles formation is one-up, one-back.
FOREHAND: Fairly consistent with some directional intent; lacks depth control
BACKHAND: Frequently prepared; starting to hit with fair consistency on moderate shots
SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Developing rhythm; little consistency when trying for power; second serve is often considerably slower than first serve; can return serve with fair consistency
VOLLEY: Consistent FH volley; inconsistent BH volley, has trouble with low and wide shots
SPECIAL SHOTS: Can lob consistently on moderate shots
PLAYING STYLE: This player has achieved improved stroke dependability with directional control on moderate shots, but still lacks depth and variety. This player exhibits more aggressive net play, has improved court coverage, and is developing teamwork in doubles.
FOREHAND: Good consistency and variety on moderate shots; good directional control; developing spin.
BACKHAND: Hitting with directional control on moderate shots; has difficulty on high or hard shots; returns difficult shot defensively.
SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Starting to serve with control and some power; developing spin; can return serve consistently with directional control on moderate shots.
VOLLEY: More aggressive net play; some ability to cover side shots; uses proper footwork; can direct FH volleys; controls BH volley but with little offense; difficulty in putting volleys away.
SPECIAL SHOTS: Consistent overhead on shots within reach; developing approach shots, drop shots; and half volleys; can place the return of most second serves.
PLAYING STYLE: This player has dependable strokes, including directional control and depth on both forehand and backhand sides on moderate shots, plus the ability to use lobs, overheads, approach shots and volleys with some success. This player occasionally forces errors when serving. Rallies may be lost due to impatience. Teamwork in doubles is evident.
FOREHAND: Dependable; hits with depth and control on moderate shots; may try to hit too good a placement on a difficult shot
BACKHAND: Player can direct the ball with consistency and depth on moderate shots; developing spin.
SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Places both first and second serves; frequent power on first serve; uses spin; dependable return of serve; can return with depth in singles and mix returns in doubles.
VOLLEY: Depth and control on FH volley; can direct BH volleys but usually lacks depth; developing wide and low volleys on both sides of the body.
SPECIAL SHOTS: Can put away easy overheads; can poach in doubles; follows aggressive shots to the net; beginning to finish point off; can hit to opponent’s weaknesses; able to lob defensively on setups; dependable return of serve.
PLAYING STYLE: This player has begun to master the use of power and spins and is beginning to handle pace, has sound footwork, can control depth of shots, and is beginning to vary game plan according to opponents. This player can hit first serves with power and accuracy and place the second serve. This player tends to overhit on difficult shots. Aggressive net play is common in doubles.
FOREHAND: Very dependable; uses speed and spin effectively; controls depth well; tends to overhit on difficult shots; offensive on moderate shots.
BACKHAND: Can control direction and depth but may break down under pressure; can hit power on moderate shots.
SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Aggressive serving with limited double faults; uses power and spin; developing offense; on second serve frequently hits with good depth and placement; frequently hits aggressive service returns; can take pace off with moderate success in doubles..
VOLLEY: Can handle a mixed sequence of volleys; good footwork; has depth and directional control on BH; developing touch; most common error is still overhitting.
SPECIAL SHOTS: Approach shots hit with good depth and control; can consistently hit volleys and overheads to end the point; frequently hits aggressive service returns.
PLAYING STYLE: This player has good shot anticipation and frequently has an outstanding shot or attribute around which a game may be structured. This player can regularly hit winners or force errors off of short balls and can put away volleys, can successfully execute lobs, drop shots, half volleys, overhead smashes, and has good depth and spin on most 2nd serves.
FOREHAND: Strong shot with control, depth, and spin; uses FH to set up offensive situations; has developed good touch; consistent on passing shots.
BACKHAND: Can use BH as an aggressive shot with good consistency; has good direction and depth on most shots; varies spin.
SERVE/RETURN OF SERVE: Serve is placed effectively with the intent of hitting to a weakness or developing an offensive situation; has a variety of serves to rely on; good depth, spin, and placement on most second serves to force weak return or set up next shot; can mix aggressive and off-paced service returns with control, depth, and spin.
VOLLEY: Can hit most volleys with depth, pace, and direction; plays difficult volleys with depth; given opportunity, volley is often hit for a winner.
SPECIAL SHOTS: Approach shots and passing shots are hit with pace and a high degree of effectiveness; can lob offensively; overhead can be hit from any position; hits mid-court volley with consistency; can mix aggressive and off-paced service returns.
This player can hit dependable shots in stress situations; has developed good anticipation; can pick up cues from such things as opponent’s toss, body position, backswing, preparation; first and second serves can be depended on in stress situations and can be hit offensively at any time; can analyze and exploit opponent’s weaknesses; has developed power and /or consistency as a major weapon; can vary strategies and style of play in a competitive situation.
6.0 to 7.0
The 6.0-player typically has had intensive training for national tournament competition at the junior and collegiate levels and has obtained a sectional and/or national ranking. The 7.0-player is a world-class player.
So now you know about this tennis rating system. I have specially prepared a template for you to rate yourself and categorize whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced player. If you are a coach or a tennis player wanting to rate your player or yourself, you can download the PDF. No opt-in required. It is a free gift for you.
Click here to download.
Print it out and bring it to the tennis court.
Once you know your rating, look at the characteristics of the next level and plan how to get there. Tennis is more fun when you are learning new ways to better your game.