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How to Become a 4.5 Pickleball Player? | The Ultimate Guide

Nobody in this world wants to be stuck at the same point in their lives, and the same rule applies in pickleball. Everyone wants to improve their game, just like you and me. Now that you have mastered the skills level from 2.5 to 3.5 or 4.0, it’s time to take your game one step ahead.

But mastering the skills required for the 4.5 level can be challenging. If you are facing any issues regarding the 4.5 skill set, or you have just mastered 4.0 skills, and now want to learn how to become a 4.5 Pickleball player, this article is for you.

In this post, we will tell you how to become a 4.5 pickleball player, and the common mistakes you need to avoid in your journey. So, if that sounds interesting to you, let us begin this article.

Table of Contents

What is a 4.5 Pickleball Player?

In case you don’t exactly know what a 4.5 Pickleball player is, here’s a brief explanation. Pickleball players are given ratings from 1 to 5.5+ based on their skills.

A 4.5 level player is generally considered to be an advanced player. The player who can perform all the skills from 2.5 to 4.0 but has also mastered to play volley and third shots, poach, and control placement of strokes qualifies for the 4.5 player rating.

Moreover, a 4.5 player should be able to target the opponents’ weaknesses and communicate with their partner. You can read the official skill assessment form for 4.5 players by USAPA here.

Improving your game? Here are the top pickleball paddles for advanced players.

What are the Skills Required for 4.5 Rating?

To qualify for a 4.5 skill rating, first, it’s necessary to master all the skills of a 4.0 player. Next, you’ve to develop the below-mentioned skills.

Serves and Return of Serve

You should get proficient at serving and returning the serve using pace, spin, and placement. Moreover, you should learn strategies like pickleball stacking.


You should consistently hit the volley to the right spot on the court, depending on the opponent’s position. For volleys, you should block and push the ball rather than using a backswing.

Block Volley

To qualify for the 4.5 level, you should master to block a volley and place it in the kitchen. This skill comes in handy when your opponent is striking the ball hard. Multiple videos on YouTube can help you with this. 

Third Shot

You’ll need to become good at different 3rd shot strategies, but most importantly the third shot drop. To master this skill, you’ll need to do pickleball drop shots drills consistently.

Power in 3rd Shot

After you have learned to play different pickleball shots, learn how to add power to your third shots and use the forehand drives effectively.


If you’re a 3.5 or 4 player, you’d already be aware of dinking. However, to reach that 4.5 level, you should get consistent at dinking and use it as an attacking shot.


To get the 4.5 ratings, you need to learn when- and when not to- poach. Though a controversial thing, if you’ve communicated to your partner in advance, poaching can help you secure more points. In case you don’t know, poaching means stealing a shot that’s going towards your partner.

Adjust Pace

You need to be able to adjust the pace according to your opponent and situation.

Common Mistakes made by 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0 Players

Popping Up

This is one of the most common mistakes that players make when moving from 3.0/4.0 to 4.5. You need to avoid dink pop-ups. Instead, you can just push it forward right above the net at a lower angle. Because if you are playing against a good player, they can easily hit or flick the popped-up ball and take a point.

Lack of angle

To win points, you need to create use angles instead of hitting straight shots. Remember that your opponent will have to reach further to hit diagonal shots than straight hits. When hitting the pickleball, always try to make the perfect angle, depending on your and your opponent’s positions.

Repeating the same shot repeatedly

When you are learning new skills of 4.5, you always try to practice it with the same person and forget to mix things up. You’ll become predictable and allow your opponent to trick you.

How to Become a 4.5 Pickleball Player?

To become a 4.5 pickleball player, you’ll need a lot of practice and patience. Only after consistent practice and matches, you can master the skills to become a 4.5 player. It’s recommended to join any of the pickleball clinics and camps. To improve your game, you should get a high-quality pickleball paddle designed for intermediate players.

However, you’ll need to master these aspects of your game for reaching the 4.5 level.


If you want to become a 4.5 player, you need to master your forehand first because you need to use it often. By using your forehand, you can generate more pace on the serve, which increases the chance of your opponent making a mistake. Then you can secure a point on the third shot.

Serve / Return

For becoming a 4.5 pickleball player, you need to get better at serving the ball and returning the serve. You should develop control and place the serve and second shot effectively. Moreover, 4.5 players are expected to use power, speed, placement, and spin during serves to trick their opponent.


Creating and executing effective strategies during the game is a key skill required to become a 4.5 player. You should be able to communicate and move well with your partner, have good footwork, and adjust according to your opponents’ style of play. Having different strategies for the second and third shots is necessary for improving your game.


Most pickleball players easily give their opponent a free point by not mastering their backhand. This is also one of the most common mistakes. At the higher level, players can easily spot your weakness, in this case, the backhand, and target it repeatedly to gain points. If you want to reach the 4.5 level or even 5.0, you must master your backhand.

Third Shot

The third shot is always a game-changer shot for you and your opponent, and you must learn how to secure a point with the 3rd shot. Therefore, learn different ways to play the third shot. Though you must master the third shot drop, don’t get predictable by playing it every time.


Lastly, you should improve hitting and blocking volleys. For this, learn to hit swinging volleys and block hard-hit volleys to place them in NVZ.

The Bottom Line

Becoming a 4.5 pickleball player takes time, patience, and practice. By mastering the above-mentioned skills, you’ll be able to achieve this rating. Moreover, you should notice and rectify the mistakes you make using pickleball games. And lastly, it is necessary to have a high-quality paddle like Gearbox GX5 if you want to up your game.

We hope this article will help you in your journey to the 4.5 level. Good luck!

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