What is Padel Tennis?

What is Padel?

A short history of Padel

Enrique Corcuera

Padel, otherwise known as Padel Tennis, Pedal or Paddle was invented in Mexico by Enrique Corcuera in 1969. By adapting his squash court at home in Acapulco, Mexico with elements of Platform Tennis he created what he called “Paddle Corcuera”. As so begins the story of Padel.

Enrique’s Spanish friend Alfonso of Hohenlohe-langenburg tried this new innovation and instantly fell in love. Immediately after playing the game at his friend’s house he decided to create the first two Padel courts in a tennis club in Marbella, Spain in 1974. Adding some modifications to make it more competitive the sport began to evolve and by 1975, a member of the Marbella tennis club, Julio Menditeguy took the game to his home country in Argentina. 

By the early 2000s there were over 1000 Padel Clubs in Spain and in 2005 the Padel Pro Tour began. This was played until 2012 when the international love for the game was blooming and the World Padel Series (WPS) was founded in 2013. This is the Padel equivalent of the ATP & WTA for tennis and leaves us where we are today 2022. At time of writing we have an energetic world tour played in many different countries consisting of 15 - 20 tournaments a year and ending with a final Master Series at the end of every season.

An Overview of the game of Padel

Now that you have some background into how the game began and has evolved let's take a closer look at how it's played. Padel is a racket sport typically played by two teams of two players (doubles) on an enclosed court roughly one-third the size of a Tennis Court. The scoring method is the same as normal tennis, and the ball used is very similar but with less pressure. But enough of the similarities, let's look at the differences. The main difference being that the court has glass walls and steel mesh sections and the ball can be played off of them in a similar manner that one would in a game of Squash. Other differences are that the racket used in this case is string-less and solid, more like a bat and that while hitting ones serve the ball must be at or below waist level.

The Padel Court

Padel Court

A Padel Court is 20 meters long by 10 meters wide giving the players a surface area of 200m2. The floor is traditionally artificial turf that is then covered in a thin layer of fine quartz sand (used as a stabilising infill).
The overall height of the court is 4 meters with the back of the court being made of glass up to a height of 3 meters (often used to play the ball off of) and the remaining meter being made of a steel mesh. The same applies for the sides of the court closest to the rear. Thereafter the full height of the sides are made of steel mesh with a shorter opening in the middle at the net on either side. 

The middle of the Padel playing court is divided in two by the net signifying each team's playing field. The net has a maximum height of 88cm in the center, rising to 92cm at both sides. The two playing fields are then divided in the center perpendicular to the net by a line with another line 3 meters from the back wall marking the service area.  

Padel Court Dimensions:

  • Surface area: 200m2 (10x20m).
  • The back of the court has a height of 4m, with 3m being glass and the rest steel mesh.
  • The sides are made of steel mess with the rear having a 3m glass panel.
  • A net divides the court in two with a maximum height of 0.92m.
  • Two centered openings on each side in the steel mesh.

The Padel Racket & Padel Ball 

Padel Racket and Balls

The Padel Racket is a short (45.5cm maximum length), stringless racket with an elastic surface, commonly made out of carbon fiber or fiberglass. The Padel racket's hitting surface is perforated by a number of round holes between 9 and 13mm that must be at least 4cm from the edge of the racket. This allows greater grip between the Padel ball and the Padel racket hitting surface.

The Padel Ball is basically a low compression Tennis Ball that is served underhand after bouncing the Padel ball off of the Padel court playing surface no higher than hip height. The Padel ball can be played before or after it bounces on the playing surface or walls, adding a unique dimension to the game of Padel over conventional Tennis. 

Padel Racket Features:

  • Surface:

Carbon fiber or fiberglass

  • Core:
Foam or EVA.
  • Weight:
Between 340g and 370g (slightly heavier than a tennis racket).
  • Maximum Dimensions:
 45.5cm long, 26cm wide and 38mm thick.
  • Shape:

 Round, Tear-drop or Diamond

  • Balance:

 High, Average or Low.

The Padel Rules & Scoring

We all want to know how to win our first game of Padel so here are some of the basic rules. 
The Padel Scoring & Rules are very similar to that of Tennis with the biggest difference being that the serve in Padel is underarm and the ball can be played off of the walls, in this way it is similar to Squash. The rules allow for the use of the back and sidewalls, resulting in longer rallies and making the sport a little easier to play at a basic level than conventional tennis. In Padel points are won by clever strategy rather than by pure strength and power alone. 

Padel scoring:

  • Scoring each game is exactly the same as tennis: 15, 30, 40 deuce & advantage.
  • A team needs to win 6 games to take a set and 2 sets to win the match.
  • Should both teams reach 6 games then a tie-breaker of 7 points will be played to decide the set.

Padel Serve:

  • All points begin with an underarm serve into the diagonally opposite service box, like in Tennis.
  • During the serve the ball is bounced behind the service line, before hitting it underarm and while the ball is below waist height.
  • The serve must land in the opponent's service box and after first bouncing on the ground may then hit the opponents glass wall but not the steel mesh.
  •  If the ball touches the net and is thereafter in play it is a let as in Tennis.
  • There are two serves in Padel allowing for one fault as in Tennis.

Padel Play:

  • The Padel ball must bounce on ground before touching any structure, it then must be played again before the second bounce on the ground
  • Players can use the walls to return the ball
  • Volleys are permitted except when receiving a service

Why is Padel so popular?

Besides being called the world's fastest growing sport, Padel is fast becoming the preferred racket sport at many clubs and it's easy to see why. It has so many unique features that make it not only incredibly fun and addictive to play but also very inclusive of all types of players.

Unique features of Padel:

  • The game is quick and easy to learn at a basic level
  • Very social, played traditionally in doubles
  • The ball can be played off of the walls encouraging longer rallies.
  • The walls on the court assist in keeping the ball close and in play meaning no ball boys needed.

  • The game is a lot more strategic than Tennis meaning the game is not won by strength and power.

 These are just a few reasons why Padel is so enjoyable and fast becoming the largest racket sport in the world. Now it's up to you to find out for yourself why Padel is so popular!


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