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As a player advances through the skill ratings it gets increasingly more difficult to reach that next level. The physical and mental demands increase, the number of players that can test you starts to diminish, and every halfway-decent tennis player seems destined for your place in your favorite group. 


Selection for either the 4.0 or 4.5 group is not something we take lightly and Bounce is committed to creating groups that are both enjoyable and level specific. To that end, we’d like to outline some of the various factors that may affect your qualification, as well as answer some of the most commonly asked questions.


If you’ve signed up for an evaluation and want to know what could hurt your chances, or you’ve done your evaluation and have been told that you didn’t make the grade, here’s a brief rundown of what’s at play. 

Skill Level:

A. Lack of Consistency

  •  Inability to maintain a consistent level of play across various shots.

B. Weakness in Specific Shots

  •  Struggling with particular shots, such as dinks or drops. 


Game Strategy:

A. Poor Shot Selection

  • Failing to choose the right shots in specific game situations.

B. Lack of Adaptability

  • Inability to adjust the game plan based on the opponent's strengths and weaknesses.


Physical Fitness:

A. Endurance Issues

  • Fatigue setting in during extended rallies, affecting overall performance.

B. Limited Mobility

  • Difficulty moving quickly and efficiently across the court.


Mental Toughness:

A. Nervousness Under Pressure

  • Struggling to maintain composure during critical points.

B. Lack of Focus

  •  Allowing distractions to interfere with concentration.

Court Awareness:

A. Positioning Errors

  • Being out of position frequently, leading to missed opportunities or unforced errors. 

B. Poor Court Coverage

  • Failing to anticipate opponents' moves and cover the court effectively.



A. Ineffective Partner Communication

  • Difficulty coordinating strategies and movements with different players. 

B. Limited Teamwork Skills

  • Struggling to work seamlessly with partners.



A. Resistance to Feedback

  • Not adapting to good coaching advice from more experienced players, and persisting with ineffective techniques.

B.Inability to Learn Quickly

  • Slow to incorporate new strategies or correct mistakes.


If you exhibited some of the above tendencies then chances are we have, or will tell you that you haven’t made the cut for your desired group. Have no fear, it’s not the end of the line. You have two choices in front of you. A - Be angry, blame the system, and take your business elsewhere. OR… B - Use the experience to inspire development. We don't want this to be the end of the road for your development, rather we want to help you begin that journey to the higher levels of pickleball.


How to Get Into Advanced Play Groups


Drill. The best players you've ever heard of don’t often play pickleball because they know the sad little secret — that playing games of pickleball is a terribly inefficient way of getting back at Pickleball. It’s fun, no doubt, but if you really want to improve then purposeful practice is the name of the game. Believe it or not, drilling partners are out there and if you simply ask, you’ll soon find a player who is willing to put in a few hours a week dinking crosscourt, working on resets, or simply playing skinny singles. If all else fails, ask one of the coaches and we will help pair you with a like-minded player. 


Get fit to play pickleball, don’t play pickleball to get fit. Pickleball is a great way to get off your chair and get active, but as you advance to the higher levels of the game, you will face younger, stronger, and quicker athletes. If mobility is an issue for you then it’s time to knuckle down and condition your body to perform. 4.5 today looks A LOT like 5.0 pre-covid! The physical demands are greater and if you can’t hang in a cross court dink rally for more than 3 dinks before you pull the trigger then chances are you aren’t moving well enough to stay composed over the ball. Ask a more experienced player or a coach to tell you if speed or flexibility is the main issue, then get to work! 


Watch yourself play. If you’ve never seen yourself in action, it can be a rude awakening but a necessary part of your development. The Bounce coaching staff come from a variety of backgrounds but one fact is unanimously agreed upon — most players are blissfully unaware of their level. Some cling to the level they once played, ignoring the fact that the game has taken off at an alarming place, while others self-rate themselves based on the highest level player they once beat in a rec game. Become more self aware and you’ll soon understand how to reach the next level.


Play tournaments. A tournament puts you under pressure and exposes your weaknesses far better than recreational play. Tournaments also force you to adapt to different players, a skill that will serve you very well at open play. is a good place to start or ask some of the locals for advice on where and when the next tournaments are. If you want advanced play in rec games, play advanced levels at tournaments.


Lastly, you could take a lesson. This is not a plug and we will NEVER be offended if you choose to simply enjoy the wonderful game of pickleball. However, if you have a growth mindset and a desire to accelerate your development as a player, then a lesson from a quality coach can set you on the right path quickly. Not only do we believe we have found the region’s best coaches, we invest in developing our coaches. We instill the same need to drill and practice to improve into our coaches as we do into our players.


Performance FAQs


‘I play with those people all the time, why can’t you just let me in?’ 


   — Playing with certain people doesn’t make you as good as them. Maybe you are just a very nice person, maybe they just need the numbers, maybe you started out with them and they never had the heart to uninvite you from their games. Whatever it is, we are judging you on YOUR game, not your friends’ games.


‘If I can’t play in that group, how will I be able to get good enough to belong in that group? 


 —The G.O.A.T of this game, by quite some margin, is Ben Johns for one good reason. He has continued to improve and he’s done so because he doesn’t play pickleball. Literally, never plays, unless it’s a tournament. He only ever drills with his brother Colin, who like everyone else on the planet, isn’t as good as him. Find one decent player to drill with and get to work. If you don’t see a noticeable improvement in your game after two weeks then come see one of our lead pros (Morgan or Renee) and they’ll supervise one of your sessions to see what's going on. 


‘I beat that person, that means I should be able to join the group, right?


— No, beating someone in doubles doesn’t mean that you are as good as them, let alone better than them. Your partner, their partner, the side, who was picked on, the conditions, 1st/last game of the day all play a role in the outcome of the game. That said, if you can routinely beat the majority of players in the group, with a variety of different partners, then you should indeed be welcomed into the group. 


‘I was a 5.0 tennis player, I should be at least a 4.5 pickleball’ 


— Pickleball and tennis are as closely related as badminton and ping pong. Your tennis skills will certainly translate over to pickleball, once you learn the nuances of the game. Some players can do this in 6 months, others will take 2-3 years before their pickleball rating reflects their tennis rating. Many of Bounce’s instructors came from tennis, and many are now playing at the elite levels of pickleball. They can help you translate those skills.

The Bounce Performance Manifesto

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