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How to Play Padel

Updated: Jun 20

how to play padel with a friend

Introduction to Padel 

Padel is a fast-paced variation of tennis played on a small court surrounded by walls, thought of as a mix between tennis and squash. It is usually played by two teams of two people.


Padel was invented in Acapulco, Mexico by Enrique Corcuera in 1969. In 1991, the International Padel Federation (FIP) was formed which propelled the sport forward and the first World Padel Championship took place in 1992 in Madrid.


In 2005 the PPT (Padel Pro Tour) was created where international players could compete in the first professional tournament circuit for points. Padel has expanded rapidly with more than 10,000 courts in Argentina, and over 500 padel clubs throughout Spain. It has made its way to the UK where the British Padel Federation and LTA Padel are both well established.


Padel is an easy sport to learn in a short amount of time, unlike tennis which requires many lessons. Once you know the rules, have a place and people to play with, you are ready to start playing padel!

 

Padel Court

A padel court is rectangular, surrounded by glass walls and fence panels. There are two services boxes on each side of the net. The surface of a padel court is usually artificial grass (AstroTurf), or an acrylic surface, in contrast to tennis which is played on various surfaces such as grass, clay, and hard court.

 

A padel court is 20m long and 10m wide. In comparison, a tennis singles court is 23.77m long and 8.23m wide and a doubles court is 23.77m long and 10.97m wide. A padel court has a bigger playing area than a singles tennis court!



 

Equipment

There is a wide range of padel rackets on the market, but there are generally two main features to consider: racket shape and weight.

 

First there is a round padel racket. This shape is designed with a larger sweet spot for better control and ease of use. It is suitable for defensive players. Hybrid rackets are a teardrop shape, with the sweet spot in the centre which is best for a mix of power and control. The third racket shape is diamond, which is heavier at the top, and the sweet spot higher up in the racket designed for attacking and power.

 

Weight also comes into play when choosing a padel racket. The recommended weight for male players is between 365-385 grams, and for female players between 350-360 grams. As a general rule, if your body weight is lighter you should choose a lighter racket, and if your body weight is heavier you should choose a heavier racket.

 

Padel balls are smaller and lighter than tennis balls, and have a thicker layer of felt to allow for better spin and control.



 

Basic Rules and Gameplay

Padel uses the same scoring system as tennis, 15, 30, 40, deuce, advantage, game. If the score is tied at 40-40 (deuce), a team must win two consecutive points to win the game. Padel is always played in teams of two in a doubles format. There are 4 basic strokes used in padel: forehand, backhand, volley, and smash.

 

Serving is underhand and must land in the diagonal service box, there are second serves. The ball must bounce before the serve is hit, and be hit below waist height. At least one foot has to be on the ground and no foot may touch the service line. The ball can hit the glass wall after bouncing in the service box, but cannot hit the fence. If the ball hits the net, bounces in the service box and then continues to hit the glass, this is a ‘let’ and is replayed. If the ball hits the net, lands in the service box and then continues to hit the fence, this is a fault.

 

The return of serve must bounce before being hit. An effective strategy is to hit a low return, forcing a difficult volley or groundstroke from the servers. During a rally, you may hit the wall on your side of the court.

 

Court positioning is important in giving you and your partner the best chance at improving your game. Generally, the serving team will approach the net immediately after serving to dominate and attack. As the returners, the ideal position to start is one step behind the service line, and two steps from the side glass wall.

 

Tactics and Skills

The main racket grip used to play the ball in padel is the continental grip. The easiest way to find this grip is to hold your padel racket like a hammer. A continental grip will be used for all the main shots, forehand, backhand, volley and smash.

 

Padel is a fast and reactive sport involving quick, sharp and explosive movements. It is important to always be moving with short small steps to easily get in the correct position during the point.

 

Positioning yourself before hitting the ball is hugely important when working on your padel game. You need to be in the right place before striking the ball to ensure balance, accuracy, and control. Selecting the right shot to play will put your team at an advantage to win the point. Offensive padel tactics include hitting a good serve to allow yourself to be positioned well at the net, and attacking with a volley to force your opponents into a defensive position. Defensive strategies include lobbing to neutralise the point and allow your team to move in to the net in a counterattack, and hitting off the back glass to give you extra time to reposition and make it difficult for the opposing team to attack.

 

Advanced Gameplay

Winning points in padel comes down to being more consistent than your opponents, and playing the right shots at the right time. There are many ways to win a point, such as a well-placed serve, moving in sync with your partner, utilising the lob, and taking the net position.

In order to win with a volley, technique is important. To prepare for a volley it is important to be facing the ball and holding the racket out in front at chest level, legs slightly bent, and feet ready to explode.

 

When smashing, always use a continental grip, feet should be shoulder width apart, facing sideways, with a slight bend in the knees. It is important to hit the ball at the highest point you can to ensure good timing, power, and control.

 

Training and Improvement

Padel can be played by people of all ages, fitness levels, and abilities because of the small court size and slower ball speed in comparison to tennis.

 

In order to improve your padel skills it is recommended to practice drills for forehands, backhands, and volleys. Start with slower paced hitting and build up the power and pace over time when you feel comfortable.

 

In order to stay level headed and mentally focused during a padel match, it is essential to work with your partner, practice patience during points and padel matches, keep your frustration to yourself, and fight for every point as there is always a chance to win.

 

Practising padel alone is possible! If you have a wall to use, you can hit forehands and backhands against it, or practice smashes by bouncing it off a low spot on the wall so it shoots upwards to spike down.

 

Conclusion

Since it’s invention in 1969, padel has come a long way. Now that you know all about padel courts, equipment, gameplay and rules of padel, tactics, techniques, and strategies, you are ready to play! Padel is the world’s fastest growing sport and has now made it all the way to New Zealand. If you are on the hunt for a new activity that is social, fun, competitive, and suitable for anyone, padel is the sport for you. Give it a go today!

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