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What is Padel and where to play in the UK

Written by Fiona

April 22 2022

Have you heard of Padel? It is pronounced Pad-ell and called Paddle tennis as well. It’s claimed to be the world’s fastest growing racket sport and already some eight million people play the sport. It its most popular in Spain and Latin American countries.

The game is similar to tennis and squash – in fact it mostly takes the form of a combination of these sports –  yet it is said to be simpler and with less need for physical power. Padel is a great sport for both children and adults.

How to play Padel

Padel is played with rackets – called paddles – and usually as doubles (two people on each side of the court). The court is around 10 metres by 20 metres, which is 25% smaller than a tennis court, and enclosed on four sides by perspex walls that are three metres tall at the sides and fours metres at the ends. 

Therefore, there is no play that takes place out of the limits of the court and the playing area is smaller.  Also, the ball can be played off the walls, similar to playing squash.

The net height is slightly different, too. In Padel,  the net height is  88cm high at the centre, while in tennis it’s just over 91cm.

Whereas a tennis racket is stringed and with a longer handle, a padel racket has a foam core and a fibreglass or carbon fibre outer shell and is is short-handled.

The Padel balls used are similar to tennis balls but with less pressure when inflated. This means the ball has less bounce and it slows down when it is hit off a wall.

While the tennis racket allows for a powerful shot with the aim of getting the ball over the net, in padel there is less need for power and the skill comes in the control of your shots.

Players also serve underarm, rather than overhead, and like squash, the ball can be played the wall. However, unlike squash, the ball must bounce once before hitting the wall and it’s considered to be “out” if you hit the wall directly with the ball.

Padel is popular, especially with beginners, because of the pace and the fact that it’s easier to learn to play.

Vigo Open 2019. Credit: WikimediaES

What are the rules of Padel?

Padel scoring is the same as tennis so a set is won when a pair wins six games with at least a two-game difference. A match is the best of three sets. 

However, Padel does differ from tennis because the games starts with an underarm serve into the opponent’s box. The service is done by bouncing the ball, and then hitting it while it is still lower than hip height.

A point is scored if the ball bounces twice on the ground in the opponents’ court or if the ball is not returned. 

What’s it like to play Padel?

While tennis is a game of skill and powerful shots, Padel requires less power although some degree of fitness is still needed. Padel is more about fast movements, changes of direction and good reflexes.

With tennis, the physical fitness tends to be more power-based, while in padel it is more about endurance over longer rallies.

Is Padel easier to play than tennis?

Padel is fundamentally an easier sport to learn and play. The shorter-handled racket makes it easier to have good ball control and there is no overhead serving to master.

Playing doubles also requires less physical fitness to get around the court and the balls bounce slower, too.

However, a padel ball also bounces lower than a tennis ball so the game is played closer to the ground and this means player need  good lower body strength and flexibility.

Discover plenty of beginner tips for playing Padel.

Playing Padel in Britain

Padel is played north indoors and outdoors in Britain. There are more than 150 Padel courts at some 50 clubs across the Britain and this figure is on the increase. 

The majority of courts are located in England, as well as around dozen in Scotland and some in Wales as well. Find out more about where to play.

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