Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Why playing up in USTA League may not get you bumped up

It is refreshing to see that a good portion of the people that get Estimated Dynamic NTRP Rating Reports from me are wanting to improve and get bumped up.  This is sometimes to accomplish a goal, to get validation that their game has improved, or be able to challenge themselves playing at the next level.

A common way players will try to get bumped up is to play up.  This makes sense, playing against higher rated opponents provides more opportunity to improve your rating.  But sometimes it may not accomplish what you are looking for.

First, it is possible that when playing up you are simply overmatched and because of that you get blown out.  This is not going to help your rating and could in fact hurt it.  You may be better off getting solid wins against players rated more closely to you.

Second, if the mentality in an area is that everyone wants to get bumped up and so they play up, you can end up with "4.0" matches really being between a bunch of 3.5s playing up, and this is no different than if they all had played a 3.5 match.  I see this more often than you'd think, a 3.5 rated player plays up at 4.0 and gets a 6-3,6-3 win and thinks their rating is going to go up, but I have to tell them they played another 3.5, and in fact one rated well below them and they were supposed to win that easily.

So remember, playing up may give you more opportunity to improve your rating, but there is no extra credit for playing up if your opponent is also playing up or you get blown out.  Because you may be playing another player playing up, you may have to win just as easily as if you'd played an at level match.