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How to Play Padel

Updated
December 13, 2023
How to Play Padel

Padel is a fast-paced game that combines elements of tennis, squash, and beach tennis. It's an extremely popular racket sport because it's super easy to learn and fun to play! It's a great way to spend time with your family and friends. It is usually played in doubles, but it can also be played in singles.

Getting started

Find a place to play

Padel courts are 20x10 meters, so about 30% smaller than a tennis court. Each side of the net is a 10 meter square.

The court is surrounded by 3 meter walls and metal fencing, with an additional meter of fencing at the top of the back part of the wall. Walls were traditionally made out of cement, but are usually made out of glass today.

The court's flooring is generally a sandy synthetic turf. White lines indicate the service boxes.

The net should be 92 centimeters at the posts and 88 centimeters in the center, so about 15cm shorter than a tennis net.

The ceiling must be at least 6 meters throughout the court.

Get geared up

You don't need to purchase professional padel gear from the first match, most padel clubs will rent you a padel racket and balls, so all that you need to bring are athletic clothes and shoes.

Padel rackets are made with foam cores and carbon fiber or fiberglass surfaces. Adult rackets weigh roughly 365 grams. Padel balls are like tennis balls, but with less pressure. Clay court tennis shoes or padel shoes are best for padel courts' sandy surfaces, but if you don't have them, any pair of sneakers will do.

Once your ready to purchase a racket, check out our Beginner's Racket's Buyer's Guide.

Find a match

Once you have the gear and the basics down, ask your local club to help you arrange a match or put you into a messaging group for arranging matches.

Learn the Basics

Learn about the parts of the padel court

The padel court is divided into two sides by the net - your side and your opponent's side.

Similar to tennis, the service boxes are the boxes made by the white lines on the cour. Serves need to land in the cross-court side to be in. Your partner will cover the forehand (right) or backhand side, and you will cover the other.

You must hit the the ball into the opponents' side of the court in order for your shot to count as in. The ball must hit the ground before hitting the glass fence or wall, in order to be in. During regular game play, the ball may deflect off the net off the wall and still land on the ground of your opponent's side and still be in, but if it hit the fence or the wall first, it is out.

If your opponent is not able to hit the ball back over to your side before it bounces a second time, you win the point.

You can "boast" the ball off your glass wall, and if it lands in their side of the court, it is in. You may not boast off the metal fencing.

If the ball bounces very close the wall, you can tell whether it was in or out based on the sound and by the angle that it bounces back at. If it bounces back from the back wall at a lower angle than what it came in with and with some top spin, then that usually means it hit the back wall first and is out. Of course, if it is very close, try to keep it in play in order to demonstrate good sportsmanship.

Learn the basics of padel scoring

Padel scoring is the same as tennis. Most matches are played by winning the best of three sets. Sets are won with six games. Tiebreaks settle six-six sets. Games are played with the same tennis scoring: 15-30-40.

Because padel has long rallies, the matches can get long. Some padel players looking for faster matches, play with the "Golden Point" rule of one point winning 40-40 games, but most follow tennis and require winning the game by winning two points in a row.

Hold the racket correctly

Most padel players hold the racket with the "continental" grip, which is basically the natural way of holding a hammer. This grip will allow you to have the same grip for serves, forehands and backhands.

Practice hitting a serve

Similar to tennis, padel serves must be made from behind the service line on your side of the court across the court diagonally to your opponent's service box. Contrary to tennis, padel serves are made from below the waist, and the ball must be bounced on the ground prior to contact.

The ball must go over the net and land its first bounce in the service box to be in. It can hit the side or back wall after bouncing off the ground, but it can not hit the side fence or it is out.

Similar to tennis, the server has double faults, so if the first serve is out, they can make a more conservative second serve to start the point.

Like tennis, if the serve hits the net and then bounces in, the server has a "let" and can take an additional serve. If the ball hits the net and bounces outside of the service box or in the service box and then into the fence, then the serve is out. Like in tennis, servers change every game, and alternate partners each time.

Volleying a return of serve is not allowed.

Like tennis and unlike squash, when the ball lands on the line.

Padel forehands

At the back of the court, padel strokes are smaller and involve the wrist less than tennis strokes. You should step with your opposite-side leg as you contact the ball.

Padel backhands

Most padel players' backhands are one-handed, but they start the movement with the non-dominant hand pinching the bridge of the racket before expanding out with both of their arms from their back.

Volleys in padel

Padel volleys are basically 100% the same as tennis volleys. They should be aimed for the service line, so that your opponent doesn't know whether to hit them before or after they bounce off the back wall.

Lobs in padel

Lobs are very important in padel as they are the key to controlling the net, which is the key to controlling the game. Lobs should be made with the racket parallel to the ground and by lifting the ball up with your legs, core and shoulder as much as your arm. The lob should be aimed to go well over the heads of your opponents and land in the back quarter of the court.

Padel overheads

As lobs are so important, you will also hit more overheads in padel than you will in tennis. There are many types of overheads for different objectives, however, the most common overhead the bandeja, or "tray" in Spanish, which is so named because of the flat way that the racket is held when contacting the ball, similar to how a waiter carries a tray to a table. Players use the bandeja, not to win the point like tennis overheads are used, but to regain the net and keep their opponents in the back of the court. The bandeja is hit like a forehand volley at three o'clock.

Playing a Match

Determine the server

Either play a first point or flip a coin to determine the server. The one who doesn't win normally chooses the side. The other side will serve the next game.

Position yourself correctly

Most padel players use the "Australian formation". Here, partners stick to their preferred side, which results in the server and their partner starting the point on the same side during half of the points. The server's partner will be at the net and after the server serves from behind the baseline, they will run up to join their partner at the net.

Etiquette

Padel is a social game and should be played with kindness, so do not hesitate to play a "let" or a redo if the ball was hard to clearly see as in or out. We also recommend that the server call out the score - their score first - in order to reduce confusing conversations about the score.

Try playing singles

If you are just two people, then try playing singles. It is a great way to improve the precision of your shots. You can either play on a smaller, singles court or on a normal padel court by using only half the court - playing each point diagonally. You switch from the forehand and backhand side each point. If either the first or second bounce is in the correct side, then the ball is in.

Source: FIP

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FAQs

How do I play padel?

Padel is like tennis on a 20x20 meter court with 3 or 4 meter high walls and an artificial turf surface. The rules are essentially the same but the serve must be underhanded and it's basically always played in doubles. The ball must hit the ground on the opponents' side in order to be in.

Is padel easier than tennis?

Padel is easier than tennis because it does not require as much technique and physical fitness as tennis does at the beginner level. Because the balls bounce off the walls, the points stay in play longer and fun rallies are easier to achieve (than they are in tennis) at an earlier stage.

Hello and welcome!

I'm Timo, and I'm here to help you find the right padel racket. If you want help, let me know! If you find this page helpful, please use our affiliate links, e.g Padel Nuestro, Racketspecialisten, 10% OFF at PadelFreunde,