The rules of padel are almost identical to those of tennis... and the padel court is bounded by walls... just like in squash. But where does the sport of padel come from? And more importantly, how do you play?
We explain it all to you.
History of padel
Today, almost 10 million people are licensed to play padel around the world. But before it became such a popular sport, it had a long way to go...
Padel/platform tennis: the true origin of padel tennis
The origins of padel can be traced back to the late 19th century on English ships. On board, the crew would set up "little tennis courts" to entertain the passengers: a net, lines drawn on the floor and paddles as rackets.
Due to the success and amusement of the passengers, this "racket sport" was introduced (some 30 years later) in the parks of New York City under the name Paddle... Paddle refers to the "small wooden object".
Spanish import and Argentinian export
The first two types of padel courts were built at the Marbella Club.
Soon, many tennis players became amateurs... Easy and fun, this racket sport is starting to be talked about. And its boom is also due to the personalities of the Jet Set who also become fervent followers.
Today, padel has become the national sport in Argentina, with more than 4 million members. Spain is not far behind, with more than 3 million members.
All the neighbouring European countries have been seduced by this sport, as it is very easy to "play". Unlike tennis, where you have to master the technique to have a minimum of pleasure, paddle tennis is really accessible to everyone.
Padel or paddle?
This is to be expected. There is a confusion in spelling between Paddle (paddle sport) and "Paddle", to add insult to injury, Paddle can mean two things:
Paddle: the origin of paddle tennis
Stand-up Paddle: A water sport in which you stand on a board while paddling with a paddle.
The correct spelling is Paddle (from the Spanish Padel). However, many people still Google "Paddle", not to find out about the sport played on English boats, but to refer to Paddle as it is known today. This is a misuse of language that tends to democratise itself.
How do you play paddle tennis?
To play padel, it is important to detail three things: the rules of padel, the court and the necessary equipment. The rules of the game are very similar to the rules of tennis.
Smaller than a tennis court, the padel court is 20 metres long and 10 metres wide with a net in the middle.
The padel net is 10 m long, 0.88 m high in the middle and 0.92 m high at the ends.
On the ground, white lines are drawn (with the net) to define four identical rectangles. These are the service areas (two on each side). But the first thing you notice when you see a padel court are the walls...
The walls surround the court and act as outer lines.
These walls are 4 metres high at the back of the court (orange lines in the diagram) and 3 metres high on the sides (green lines).
On each padel court, the walls are of two different types:
Plexiglas (on the two back walls and on some parts of the side).
Mesh (part of the side and the upper part of the plexiglass pieces).
These two materials will influence two moments of the game: the serve and the rally.
The net is placed with poles at the edge of the court and NOT directly on the walls... This detail is important because on both sides of the net, the fence is not closed. There are two vacancies.
The ball can leave the net... and players can also leave the court to retrieve a ball during play.
Benefits of paddle
Playing sport is good for your health.
Like all paddle sports in general, paddle tennis has particular benefits.
It improves your physical condition
It is good for your heart and your head.
If you are not a great athlete, getting back into sport can be daunting. However, padel is the kind of sport that makes it easy to get back to physical activity without exhausting yourself in 5 minutes.
Padel is an aerobic racket sport, which means that its intensity is moderate. You can therefore practise it "easily" over a longer period of time. But the advantage of padel (like tennis) is that there are also anaerobic moments (higher intensity), especially when you have to pick up balls.
You use your arms, knees, wrists, legs and the whole body.
Warm up well before starting a match:
Rotate your ankles, wrists, knees and pelvis.
Turn your head in all three directions (YES, NO and sideways with your ears close to your shoulders), as well as in circles: this is very important because you will have to follow the ball constantly with your eyes.
Do cardio running on the spot while lifting your knees and then do some squats.
Good for reflexes and coordination
As you don't know where your opponent is going to aim, padel tennis will help you improve your reflexes and explosiveness.
Also, the presence of the walls changes the trajectories of the ball, which will help you improve your anticipation and your hand-eye coordination.
If you are not a squash player, you will need a few exchanges before you understand how to anticipate each ball. And if you want to improve your game already, we've put together some padel videos for you to watch.
Padel is a fun paddle sport that is accessible to everyone. That's why it's so successful: beginners can have a lot of fun with their first ball exchanges.