USAR Rankings Frequently Asked Questions

Introduction

USA Racquetball, in partnership with R2sports, maintains Singles and Doubles rankings for all USA Racquetball event participants as a benefit of membership. 

The current ranking algorithm is a skill-based system and was implemented in in the mid-2000s.  It replaced a participation-based system that was used by the USAR and its predecessors prior to 2005.  There are several advantages to the skill based ranking system versus its predecessor, but the most obvious benefit is that players will receive a national and state ranking based solely on their performance against other players, and not based on the volume of tournaments they were able to play.

In November, 2021, USAR modified the algorithm to account for the realities of COVID, and moved the rankings to a new platform that supports more frequent updates.  See the FAQ for more detailed information on this change.

Click the Official Rankings Page link in the left side menu to view the rankings.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

These are frequently asked questions about the Ranking system.  If you have a question or concern about the rankings and it is not answered here, please email us at rankings@usaracquetball.com.

 

Rankings System/Rankings Website General Questions

Q: The look of the rankings page has changed quite a bit as of November 2021, what is going on?
A: For the last 15 years, the rankings were run offline and manually imported every other week to the usaracquetballevents.com website.  The new ranking system calculates the rankings on the R2sports server automatically, removes the need to have a manual import (which caused delays with staff was unavailable), and gives the USAR staff tools to monitor and recalculate rankings when necessary. 

Q: What changed in the singles algorithm with the new November 2021 release?
A: The timeframe of included matches has been increased temporarily from a 13-month window to a 25-month window.  This change was made to account for the cancellation of most tournaments in the USA from Mid 2020 into Mid 2021.  By expanding the window, we make the rankings more accurate and do not penalize players who had no ability to play tournament racquetball for much of the past two years.  The timeframe will switch its way back to 13 months, one month at a time, in 2022 to eventually return to the original 13-month window.  No other changes were made to the algorithm from before November, 2021; we did not “reset” the singles results or delete data.  For the rest of this FAQ, we will refer to the “Rankings System Time Period” instead of specifying 13 or 25 months for consistency.

Q: Why does it seem like the singles rankings have changed if it is the same algorithm being used?
A: The reason for (in some cases) significant rankings changes when changing the Ranking System time period has to do with the “Butterfly Effect” of a ranking system that ranks players based on wins over other players.  One additional older match may result in cascading downstream effects to all affected players.

In the old ranking system, if a director updated a match a year after the fact (which did happen), that result would not impact the current rankings because it was past a reasonable deadline for the national office to re-calculate.  With the new ranking system, a newly entered match recalculates all real matches that are in R2sports starting 3 years back.  This is the “butterfly effect” going forward.  If one person was higher and beat another person a year ago, it changes everything moving forward, and re-running results that include the 25-month window in some cases drastically changed an individual person’s ranking.

Q: How were the initial baseline rankings formulated in 2005?
A: The 2003 Nationals, U.S. Open, and state rankings were used as a guide and players were simply ranked #1 through #N at the time to “seed” the ranking system.  This was a very rough estimate of ability and there were initial discrepancies, but differences worked themselves out as players played more matches.  We now have more than 15 years of matches that have fine-tuned the rankings to get them to our current point.

Q: I do not see a player’s name who I know should be listed.  Where are they?
Q: What if my name is not on the ranking list?
A: Only current paid members of the USAR are eligible to be ranked.  If a player is not listed, then either they are not a current USAR member, they have not played in a USAR-sanctioned match in the Ranking System Time Period, or we have yet to receive sanctioned matches from a USAR-sanctioned event.  We do not remove player names from the rankings for any other reason.

If you believe you have played a sanctioned event but the results are missing, please contact the Tournament Director and inquire if they have properly submitted matches as of the end of their event.

Note: if you are ranked lower than #1,000, you will not be able to see your name on the main rankings page for now (a future update will fix this issue), but you can see your name by filtering by an age group or geographical state/region.

Q: How does the singles ranking algorithm work?
A: The algorithm can be explained simply as follows: Your ranking is determined by whatever your second-best win is within the specified period of time.  Here’s a more detailed example showing how the Singles rankings work.

Starting Point:
- Player John Smith is presently ranked 325. 
- John Smith’s previous best win is the player ranked 150.  This will be who Smith is “Tracking” in the database, and will be how far Smith will move up if he gets a win over a higher ranked opponent.

Scenario 1: Smith defeats the player at ranking 180.
What happens to Smith’s Ranking?  Smith will immediately be ranked 180 and player 180 moves to 181, but Smith will keep the same Tracking player (ranked 150) since that remains his best win.

Scenario 2: Smith defeats the player at ranking 120
What happens to Smith’s Ranking?  He immediately moves to 150 (the previous best win), and a new best win/Tracking player of 120 is stored.

Scenario 3: Smith loses to a player ranked well below him.
What happens to Smith’s Ranking?  Smith will either stay at his exact current ranking of 325, or he may drop to 326 and the player who just beat him will be newly placed at 325, depending on that player’s own match history and who that person is tracking.

Scenario 4: Smith does not beat anyone better than himself in the rankings time period.
What happens to Smith’s Ranking?  If you do not defeat anyone better than you (i.e. your previous best win of 325) within the Ranking System time period, then this best win will be eliminated (considered a fluke) and your best win will be reset to the rank that you are presently at, in this case 325.  Your new “tracking” person will be listed as “Self.”

Q: Why does the ranking system use my “Second best win” and not my best win?
A: To eliminate the chances of a “fluke” win artificially ranking you higher than you deserve.  As can be seen in the example, a player can move many ranking positions instantly but there is a check to stop movement if the player's previous best win is determined to be well above their consistent skill level.  You do not immediately ascend based on your best ever win to eliminate “fluke” wins that may not be truly indicative of your skill level, or which may have been due to a one-off poor performance from your highly ranked opponent.  Once you’ve won a second match at a certain level, the first win is no longer considered a fluke win, your ranking rises, and your tracking player rises accordingly.

Q: How do I move up in the rankings?
A: Simple: you move up by winning matches against better-ranked players in the system.  Wins against players ranked worse than you do not help you move up the rankings.  The computer stores your best previous win and if you beat another, better ranked player or the same better ranked player a second time within the Rankings system Time period, you will immediately move up the rankings. 

Q: How fast can I move up in the rankings?
A: There is no artificial limit to how quickly one may rise in the rankings.  Your present ranking and the player ranking of your previous recorded wins will dictate this movement.  You are able to very quickly move up so that your ranking will reflect accurately your ability level.  Example: if a player entered a pro event without any wins at the level of a typical pro (top 20-30 players) and gets several wins against highly ranked players, they will immediately ascend into this range once the tournament is recorded to R2sports.

Q: What happens if lose to a more poorly ranked player? 
A: Dependent on that player’s previous win history, one of two things can happen:

  1. You may stay right where you are in the rankings or,
  2. You will move down only one position.

You will not fall below any other players on the rankings due to this loss.

Q: What is the difference between “Current” and “Overall” ranking
A: A player’s Current Ranking is that player’s ranking within all the current and active members of the USAR.   A player’s Overall Ranking is that player’s ranking amongst ALL players in the system, whether they’re currently active USAR members or if they’ve let their membership lapse.

If a player is ranked ahead of you but is not an active member, then they will not be included in the Current ranking but will count towards the Overall rankings of players.  Example: if your current ranking is 80 but your overall ranking is 100, this implies that there are 20 players ranked ahead of you who are not current members.

Q: Which rank should tournament directors use?  Current or Overall?
A: Tournament Directors should always use the Overall Ranking.  This is because players who are former members may enter an event (and will instantly become active members upon paying their USAR dues) and need to be seeded properly.  All players must be a current member in order to play their first match, so the director seeds the bracket with the Overall rankings under the assumption they’ll all become current rankings when the tournament is completed.

Q: How can Tournament Directors use this to seed age groups properly?
A: Players will be ranked in every age group in which they are eligible, irrespective of how old they actually are, which should make it much easier on Tournament Directors to seed combined age groups properly, or when older players “play down” into younger age groups.

Example: Though Ruben Gonzalez usually plays Pro he does play age group at some major events such as National Singles.  He is over 50 so he shows up in the 50+ age group rankings.   He is not yet 70 though, so he does not show up in the 70+ age group rankings.  It should be noted that he can also show up in the +45 as he is eligible to play in any lower age group (as is everybody) below his down to 25+.  The ranking system makes tournaments easier to seed as the tournament director can easily locate where he would be if he, say, entered the +40 at a tournament.

Q: What does “Tracking” Mean?
Q: How does the Tracking work? 
A: The “Tracking” player listed next to your name (if there is one), indicates your current “best win.”  It is the ranking to which you will immediately ascend if you were to beat that player (or someone ranked higher).  If your best win ages off and you do not have a comparable best win, then your “new best win” will be recalculated and your ranking may fall. 

When you beat a player higher than you, you are tracking them.  You then have the duration of the Rankings system time period to then beat someone better than you to move up.  So you always take the ranking of the person for your second highest win.  However, if the person you are tracking beats you, it removes the track and you are back to tracking yourself.

You should always be tracking yourself, or someone higher, but never lower. 

Q: Do you track a ranking spot or a player?
A: You don’t track the rank number, you track the player.  If you beat a player ranked #20 at the time of the match, and he later becomes #10 as you are tracking him, since you are tracking the player, you are then tracking the ranking spot of #10.  So as you are tracking someone, it an advantage for you if their ranking gets better.

Q: What does “Self” mean in the tracking column?
A: This means that you are tracking yourself.  There are a few situations that lead you to tracking yourself:

  1. You are #1 in the world
  2. If you are a new player
  3. If you haven’t won against a higher ranked opponent in the last X months (the Rankings system Time Period)
  4. If the person you are tracking beats you

Q: Which matches count in the rankings?
Q: Do forfeits count in the rankings?
A: Any match that starts and plays a single point or more on the court counts in the rankings.  Forfeits that occur once a match has started will count, but forfeits that never take the court will not.  For example, if an injury default occurs during your match, it will count as a match played.  If a match is never started then it will not be sent in for processing.  Any match listed as a Win by Forfeit – No Show does not count.

Q: Do matches in 1-day shootouts count when it is a short game format and you don’t play the normal 2 games to 15, breaker to 11?
A: Yes.  In singles, a match at the US Open counts the same as a shootout match, or a sanctioned league match.  All that matters is who you beat and what their rank was at the time you beat them.  (In doubles, you only get half points for a short format match; see the doubles section for more).

Q: Will the USAR still use only matches from the quarters on?
A: No, every match of every event will be included in the new ranking system.  Counting only quarterfinals or later matches was an anachronism from the pre-2005 ranking system that was addressed with the move to the skill-based system in 2005.

Q: Do game points matter? 
Q: Does the score matter for rankings?
A: No – the ranking is compiled simply on who wins and who loses.  The number of points scored, or whether the match is won in two games or goes to a tiebreaker does not impact the ranking. 

Q: Do my results in Age group (35+) play count differently than in my Skill group (Open)?
Q: Does the name of the division I enter matter for rankings?

A: In Singles, no.  It makes no difference what division or age group that you play in but simply the skill level (ranking) of the player you are playing.  Everyone will have a ranking from the #1 player to the 20,000th ranked player, and every match you win against a higher ranked player (irrespective of what division it was played in) will count.

Q: How can I search for just players in my age group?
Q: Will I be able to see how I rank against just the players in my state?
 

A: The Rankings home page has multiple search filters you can apply, including by age group and by state, in order to see your ranking by age group or state.  For example: You will be able to pull out all 35+ players from the ranking list and see how you match up against others in your age group nationally.  You can pull out just players from your home state to see how you rank as well.  You can apply multiple filters at the same time to show, for example, just players who are 50+ and from California.  You can search for just international players or just domestic players. 

Q: Why are international players ranked in USAR’s rankings
Q: Why are there pros ranked in USAR’s rankings?
A: Any player who plays in a USAR sanctioned event and is a current member, (whether they’re an American citizen, an international player, an amateur or a pro) will be ranked in this algorithm.  You can use the Region filter and select USA only to get a list of players who live in the USA.  A caveat: some foreign players may have their “current location” being listed as within the United States, and some US players may still list their home city/country as outside the USA, so the region filters are only as good as the player biography data they have entered into r2sports.

Q: Why don’t the USAR rankings for the pros match the rankings listed on the IRT or the LPRT websites?
A: The IRT and LPRT use a different ranking system that is based on points-accumulation across a rolling time period (normally 12-months) to determine its rankings, whereas the USAR’s system is dynamic and automatically adjusts whenever a match result is posted that changes the rankings.  For example, Alex Landa may be ranked #2 in the IRT’s 12-month rolling calendar, but if he loses to a lower-ranked player, and that player’s match results merit the rise, then Landa will immediately be placed behind the player he just lost to. 

To see the current IRT singles rankings, click here: https://www.irttour.com/singles-rankings/
To see the current LPRT singles ran kings, click here:
https://www.lprtour.com/lprt-singles-rankings

Q: What are the “Ranking Dates” in the new system?
A: Before November, 2021, rankings were continuous with no ending point.  Now rankings are broken up into ranking runs so past results can be viewed.  The indoor season starts August 1 each year, outdoor season starts January 1.  During a season, players can go back each month and see how rankings change.  A final season ending rankings run is calculated and archived for viewing.  To see these archived year-end ranking results, use the “Ranking Date” pulldown menu on the Rankings page.  We have archived results back to 2017, and will start saving month-end rankings month after month starting in August of 2021.

Q: Are there separate rankings for both men and women? 
A: Yes, Men and Women are ranked separately.  Singles matches where a Female player enters a Men’s draw are skipped for the purposes of generating ranking points.

Q: How do I obtain an initial ranking? 
A: A player must enter a sanctioned tournament, become a member of the USAR, and then play a match (win or lose).  Once the tournament director of that sanctioned event reports the results officially to the USAR, then that player will immediately be ranked nationally.

Q: How do I know where the (for example) B-Skill level player ranking begins? 
A:
The USAR will arbitrarily determine the ranking position cut-off for A, B, C etc. divisions for national office run events.  State associations will be able to print out their state rankings from the National rankings and then determine their own point cut-off for the different divisions.  The individual state setting of cut-off points for their local tournaments is beneficial as a low-to-mid level “A” player in one state may only have the skill level of an upper level “B” player in a stronger state and would need to be seeded as such if they if they played in another state’s tournament.

Q: Will this system be used to rank Outdoors players as well?
A: Eventually yes.  The Outdoor algorithms are still being worked on as of Nov 2021.  Initial attempts to perform rankings on existing results were not satisfactory.  The current status involves performing data manipulation on historical results so that they can be fed into the R2sports ranking algorithm and then “played forward” over a period of years to more accurately rank players and have the algorithm properly process historical results.  We are waiting for some data curation work before we can perform this task.

The eventual outdoor rankings will separately rank One-Wall outdoor results and Three-Wall outdoor results.  Since there is such wide variation of three wall courts, any three-wall court with sides of any length are grouped together and ranked as one (three-wall short wall, three-wall mid-wall, three-wall Long Wall). 

In the meantime, all WOR/outdoor sanctioned tournament results are available from the rankings search page; click “Match History” and then “WOR Outdoor” for full outdoor data.  If your event is “greyed out” in the match pulldown window, it means the tournament director has not yet officially submitted those results to the USAR; please contact the tournament director and request the releasing of the results in this case.

Doubles-specific Ranking questions

Q: How does the new Doubles algorithm work?
A: The doubles algorithm implemented in November 2021 uses a combination of Player wins and weighting of events to process a ranking based on an individual double’s player results (irrespective of his/her partner). 

A player’s ranking points are determined by averaging the points earned from their best five results during a three-year period initially. 

The following formula is used to determine points earned for a match:

Match Points Earned = 500 - ((opponentRank -1) X 450 / (numPlayers - 1))

This formula scales the total point values into a chart between 50 and 500, and adjusts the point scale based on the number of players in the rankings.  As the number of players changes, the point scale changes with it. 

An extra year was added to make up for COVID in 2020; the time period will gradually switch back to 2 years starting in 2023.   The Rankings system timeframe for doubles differs from singles because there is significantly less data to work with.  Players generally do not have nearly as much doubles history as they do singles history, and the only way to give the rankings validity is to expand the time frame for matches.

Q: What changed in the Doubles algorithm with the new November 2021 release?
A:  The old Doubles algorithm (used prior to November 2021) was based on the Chess ELO ranking system where the winner would gain a specific number of ranking points and the loser would lose the same number of points.  The new system does not penalize losses and rewards you for the quality of the win, not the quantity.  We also modified the relative weights of certain types of events (Pro doubles matches versus non-pro divisions, national events versus local tournaments) to give more credence to wins in these events.  Lastly, we manually reset the first 50-60 players in the double’s rankings to a circa-2018 timeframe and then “played forward” the rankings algorithm to reset and re-seed the top of the doubles rankings to give us a more accurate ranking of players current to today.

Q: Do my Doubles results in Age group (35+) play count differently than in my Skill group (Open) or in Pro division?
A: Yes. In the Doubles rankings, Pro divisions have a points multiplier of 1.1, and Open divisions have a 1.05 multiplier versus a regular tournament.  This is NOT the case for singles; just doubles.

Q: Do Doubles matches in 1-day shootouts count fully when it is a short game format and you don’t play the normal 2 games to 15, breaker to 11?
A: No.  In the Doubles rankings, you only get half points for a short format match.  This is NOT the case for singles, just doubles.

Q: How do I improve my doubles rank?
A: Your first goal would be to get five wins within three years.  You only get a small partial credit for a loss.  Once you get five wins, the next step is to increase the competition level, so you have to enter a higher skill level.  Only wins against higher ranked teams can increase your ranking at that point.

Q: What is the algorithm behind the Mixed doubles rankings?
A: Mixed Doubles has taken us the longest to generate as we have tested multiple algorithms to give us the best possible result set.  Mixed doubles rankings is driven by your best five doubles rankings (gender-specific or mixed), but gives additional weight to Open Mixed and Pro Mixed events to value them slightly higher than non-Mixed events.  This gives us the ability to still rank top Doubles players who do not have a large history of Mixed results, but give credit to those who do play Mixed frequently.

Q: Why are some pros ranked below Elite/A players in Mixed doubles rankings?
A: 
The two professional tours rarely have joint events where Mixed Pro Doubles divisions are offered, and therefore many top pros do not even have five Mixed Doubles wins within the Rankings time period to generate a sufficiently high ranking.  Thus, the mixed doubles rankings end up with a number of amateurs who frequently play mixed doubles in local tournaments being ranked ahead of the pros.  This may seem like a “problem” with the ranking system, but in reality it is an indicator that there’s just not enough top-level mixed doubles play to make the top of the mixed rankings “look right.”  In time, with more pro Mixed Doubles events offered, the pro players will naturally ascend to rankings more appropriate to their skill level.