How To Get Into Padel
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It’s Getting Seriously Popular
“With an estimated 25 million players in more than 90 nations, padel has serious global appeal. It’s the number two sport in Spain after football, and there’s a professional league in the US now. As for why it’s popular, padel’s ability to hook people the moment they step on court is its real trump card. Compared with tennis, it’s less about technique and power when you start, meaning everyone is at more of a level from the get-go. This, combined with the fact you’re playing more intimately with your partner, makes it more energising, sociable and fun than other racket sports. The sound of the ball being hit, the warehouse environments in which it’s played, and the general look of the sport also help give it a modern feel.” – Santiago Gomez, founder & CEO of Padel Haus
There Are Some Famous Fans
“If you’ve never played before – or even if you have zero racket experience – you can almost certainly have a good game, with lots of rallies, quick reactions and running around. Because of this, it’s fun and strangely addictive. Andy Murray and Virgil van Dijk have invested in a padel company, Game4Padel, and it’s popular with the football community. Jurgen Klopp is a big fan and has installed courts at the Liverpool FC training ground; Zinedine Zidane has his own club; and Lionel Messi plays.” – James Rose, national development manager at Game4Padel
Scoring Is Easy
“Padel is always played in doubles but the scoring is the same as in tennis. To start a set, one player serves underarm across the court into the opposite team’s service box. The ball must bounce before it hits either the cage or glass in your opponent’s side of the court, though you can hit directly onto your own glass to play the ball back over the net. The aim is to win points by either hitting a winning shot or forcing your opponents to hit an error. The key is for you and your partner to get to the net, then keep hold of that position, as this is where you will win most of your points.” – Sandy Farquharson, founder of The Padel School
It's A Great Workout
“Padel is a great physical and mental workout. Because the court is smaller, the ball is in play a lot more than other racket sports – for example, in tennis the ball is actually only in play about 15 minutes in every hour, whereas in padel it’s in play more like 50 minutes in every hour. Depending on your level, it can provide a great cardio workout, using the key muscle groups in the leg, glutes, biceps and shoulders. It also improves flexibility, coordination and your reflexes, and is gentler on the joints because the court is smaller, so many people pick it up if they’ve had injuries playing tennis or squash.” – James
Here’s How To Get The Basics Right, According To The Pros
Master Your Footwork
“Even though the court is small, you still need to get your footwork right to move around the court, especially if you are ever going to master the off-the-wall shot. Being agile on your feet is important – it will enable you to move efficiently around the court and line up optimally for shots.” – James
Use The Walls
“The walls are often the most foreign part for players learning padel. Whether players have come from tennis or with no rackets background, understanding the rebound can be tricky. Even squash players who understand the principles need to be aware that the technique and the rebound is different. Players coming to padel often avoid the walls as they lack confidence, but this will only making learning that part of the game slower. Get used to using the glass.” – Sandy
Always Warm Up
“A warm-up is important before any sport, but especially padel, where you sometimes have to move explosively to get the ball, so your muscles need to be ready.” – James
Learn The Shots
“The three basic shots in padel are similar to tennis. Key shots to learn initially are the forehand, backhand, and volley. In addition, the lob is important to gain control of the field. Focus on mastering these shots before moving on to more advanced shots like a ‘bandeja’ – a defensive shot that is hit with a flat racket face and directed upwards towards the back of your opponent's court.” – Santiago
Don’t Hit The Ball Too Hard
“While it's important to generate power in your shots, hitting the ball too hard can lead to errors, missed shots and easy shots for your opponent because it bounces off the wall hard. Focus on controlling the pace of your shots and hitting with precision rather than just power.” – Santiago
Mix It Up
“Padel is a social sport, and it's important to practise with different partners to improve your game. Playing with different people will help you learn new techniques and strategies, and will also help you develop your own playing style. At the same time, communication with your partner is key in padel, and many players make the mistake of not communicating effectively. This can lead to unnecessary and frustrating mistakes. Not great to happen to you, sometimes funny to see. So make sure you talk when you’re out on the court.” – Santiago
“Many beginners aim for corners or difficult angles to try to get some winners. The key to padel is to be patient and build up the point. At the same time, vary the pace of your shots to keep your opponents guessing. Use soft shots to drop the ball close to the net and hard shots to hit the ball past your opponents.” – Santiago
Use Your Body
“Use your body to generate power in your shots. Rotate your hips and shoulders, and transfer your weight forward as you hit the ball. Always follow through with your shots to maximise power and accuracy. Your racket should follow the direction of your shot after contact with the ball.” – Santiago
Work On Your Serve
“A strong start can help you dominate the point. Learn how to serve in a diagonal direction and move towards the net after finishing your serve, so you can try to put away the return confidently. Master a flat forehand, too. Once you’ve mastered this, you can add in topspin and slice.” – James
Get Your Grip Right
“This might require a lesson or two, but if you are holding the racket the right way you will find you have more control and more power. The correct grip can also prevent injuries.” – James
Keep It Simple
“Many players enjoy the satisfaction of hitting the ball hard, but learning to hit the ball softly is what separates intermediate players from beginners. Players also often think about hitting deceptive spins and making the ‘highlight reel’ for their matches, but padel is a game of consistency and patience. If you have a simple technique, it is easier to consistently repeat and therefore you make fewer mistakes.” – Sandy
Get A Coach
“It’s a blessing that padel is so easy to learn, but the other side of that is that people think they don’t need help with their technique. As a coach, most players come to us when they are stuck on a shot and have already developed bad habits over years of playing. It is much easier to develop the right technique at the beginning than to change bad habits.” – Sandy
Where To Play
Opening in June, Padium will be London’s premium padel venue and Canary Wharf’s first standalone padel court.
You’ll find padel courts at its clubs in Chigwell and Bushey.
Will to Win
It has floodlit padel courts at Hyde Park and Regent’s Park. Sign up for a six-week course to learn the basics.
Stratford Padel Club
With five padel courts, this is one of the only pay-and-play indoor padel clubs in the capital.
A full list of padel venues across the UK can be found on the LTA’s website here.
For more from the experts, head to Padel.Haus, Game4Padel.com & ThePadelSchool.com
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