You’ve probably seen a couple of videos of four people battling it out in a tiny tennis-like court with walls, and you want to know more. Whether it’s for you to start playing or just to be a more informed fan, we got you covered on all you need to know about Padel (a.k.a “Tennis with Walls.”)
Padel is a racquet sport that is played on an enclosed court, where participants can play off the surrounding walls. The court is about a third of a tennis court and has no doors, which allows players to hit the ball outside the court. It’s, mainly, played in a doubles format; however, it can also be played as singles. The score is kept the same way as in tennis.
Also, referred, sometimes, to as paddle tennis in Canada and the United States. Padel can be explained as a mix of multiple racquet sports (tennis, badminton, and squash), which has evolved to become one of the fastest-growing sports, carving out its own niche in the world of sports.
Check the following clip to get a better idea about this sport.
Now, let’s dive into the details. We will take you from the conception of the sport, its evolution, the tools needed to play, the rules, scoring, and answer some commonly asked questions about the game.
As with any sport, there is history, rules, and regulations around it. An understanding of all these aspects is key to developing an appreciation of the sport and improvement of your own game if you want to play the sport.
A Brief History of Padel
1962 – Acapulco, Mexico
The year is 1962, and the location is in Acapulco, Mexico. Here, a daring contractor by the name of Enrique Corcuera modified his home squash court by adding elements of platform tennis. This new racquet sport’s court was only a third the size of the more well-known tennis court.
His inspiration for the sport, he invented, came from other racquet sports, including squash, tennis, as well as, badminton; but he felt this sport deserved its own name. So, he named the sport “Paddle Corcuera” or “Paddle Tennis” (now know as Padel).
In 1970, Hohenlohe returned to Marbella, Spain, and went on to form the first padel courts there. Following this, the sport underwent a number of iterations. Consequently, the sport grew in popularity and captured the attention of well-known tennis players, including the legendary, former World No.1, Manuel Santana.
Mar del Plata, Argentina
The spread to other countries continued when Alfonso’s close friend, Julio Menditengui from Argentina visited Alfonso and found the sport. He too was fascinated and went on to develop the game in his home country; the sport was played, for the first time, in the South American nation, in 1969.
1990’s – First International Tournament
In 1991, the sport enjoyed its first international championship tournament, the World Padel Championship organized by the International Padel Federation set in Madrid. Thus far, countries that had developed the sport extensively took part. These included Spain, Argentina, the United Kingdom, and France.
2005 – The Padel Pro Tour
In 2005, the Padel Pro Tour was established as the first international professional championship tour. Its goal was to cement the status of the sport as a professional sport by developing a tournament calendar as well as male and female player rankings.
2013 – The World Padel Tour
Most recently, in 2013, replacing the Padel Pro Tour, the World Padel Tour was established as the elite global authority in deciding Padel champions through a series of 15 to 20 tournaments topped off with a final Master series at the end of each year.
Nowadays, there are more than 20,000 million players and 4,000 padel clubs worldwide. 3500 of these clubs are based in Spain, and the rest are distributed mainly in France, Argentina Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, among other countries.
Despite its deep roots in Spanish-speaking countries and southern America, padel has picked global recognition, as well as, a broad fan base by building its own identity. It is now widely played in European countries, North America, and Asia, and some are, even, working to see the sport in the 2024 Olympics.
Playing Padel – A Brief Intro
What Do You Need
To get a game of Padel going you need:
Although the sport is typically played between four people, a one against one game can, also, be played.
2. Padel Racquets
- This is unique racquets, which don’t have strings, are solid and perforated.
- They are made of ethylene-vinyl acetate, and are covered by, either, plastic or carbon; the more expensive ones used the latter.
- The average weight of the racquet is between 340g to 370 g.
- The racquet should be no longer than 45.5 cm (17.9 in) in total. The handles should not exceed 20 cm (7.8 in) in length; and the head should not be more than 26 cm (10.2 in) in width and no more than 38 mm (1.5 in) in thickness.
3. The Court
- The dimensions of the court are 10 by 20-meters (32.8 x 65.6 ft); with 4 surrounding glass walls and fences that are 4 meters (13.1 ft) in height.
- The court can be indoors or outdoors.
- On each side of the net, there is an opening that has no doors.
- A 10-meter-long (32.8 ft) net divides the court in two. At the center, it measures 88 cm (34.5 in) in height.
4. The Ball
- Padel balls are, pretty much, low-pressure tennis balls. It can be compared to green dotted tennis balls, which are, mainly, used by young kids to play tennis.
- They are made of rubber, and have a diameter of about 6.35 to 6.77 cm and weigh between 56 and 59.4 grams.
5. Umpire & Referees
- An umpire to oversee the game and keep score is usually present for professional and competitive matches.
- However, referees in Padel are a rare find in recreational and friendly games. Therefore, it’s essential for all players to have an in-depth understanding of the rules in order to keep the game fair.
Basic Padel Rules
- With a few exceptions, the scoring system and rules in Padel are very similar to Tennis.
- One significant difference is the serve. Unlike tennis, where players can serve overhead, in Padel, players must serve underhand and below the waist.
- Like tennis, players have two attempts to serve.
- Like many racquet sports, the serve must be diagonal, on the receiver box; meaning that if the server is standing on the right side, the serve must go the left box and vice versa.
- During the serve, if the ball hits the net and bounces in the correct box, it’s considered a let.
- Players have to switch sides after every odd game (after the 1st, 3rd, 5th set, etc.)
- Although the ball can hit the surrounding walls, it must, always, bounce on the ground before touching the enclosed walls. Otherwise, it’s considered out, and the other team gets the point.
- Nevertheless, players can play off the walls first, as long as the ball hits the wall on their side.
- The ball can only bounce once on the ground.
- Except for the serve and return, players can hit the ball in the air.
Intro to Padel Scoring
- As mentioned before, Padel score is kept almost the same as in Tennis.
- Matches are usually played to the best of three sets; which means that the side to win two sets first, wins the match.
- To win a set, players need to get 6 games. In the case the score is 5-5 in games, the set will be played up to 7 games. If players tied 6-6 (in games), a 7 points tie-breaker is played.
- As in tennis, a game is composed of 0, 15, 30, 40, and game; with add-scoring.
The Importance of Teamwork & Strategy
Keep in mind that this game is typically played in a doubles format; therefore, Padel is a game of teamwork and strategy.
Two players working together in a 5 by 10-meters court requires high levels of communication and coordination between the two. Hence, practice is critical to building up that partner relationship. Moreover, a good strategy is key to identifying ways to win the point and outsmart the opponents.
Having a smaller area to work with is a challenge in and of itself because the space to place the ball is quite limited. Coupled with having two opponents, it requires a keen ability to analyze the fast-paced gameplay, as well as, to read the opponent’s strategy.
It’s also essential for players to practice and develop their technical skills, such as racquet handling and speed, in order to control the ball direction and placement more accurately.
So, there you have it, we hope this article helps you clear some questions and doubts you may have about Padel.
How are points won or lost on Padel?
- There are mainly fours ways to win or lose a point in Padel: (1) if the ball bounce twice on the court, (2) if the ball touches a players body, (3) if the ball doesn’t go over the net, (4) if the ball touches the opponents side walls before bouncing on their court.
When playing Padel, what happens if my shot makes it to the opponent’s side, and bounces off their wall onto our side?
- In this case, the point is yours because your opponent has not made contact with the ball prior to its return to your side.