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What is paddle tennis and how to play it?

Date: May 22, 2024 Time: 11:22:55

Paddle tennis is an incredible sport that has gained great popularity around the world and in Russia in particular. If you thought that padel was invented recently because normal tennis was boring, then no, that’s not the case at all. Its history begins in the second half of the 20th century.

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“Paddle tennis is a unique combination of tennis and squash, it stands out not only for its dynamics, but also for its deep tactics. In this game, victory does not usually go to those who hit the hardest. Of utmost importance are the ability to analyze the position of opponents on the court, strategic thinking, the accuracy of shots and the art of team play. What is valued here is the ability to anticipate the opponent’s moves and make long-term game plans, as in chess.”

What we will tell you

Who invented paddle tennis?

Not many details are known about the appearance of paddle tennis. For now, the sport’s origin story, with some embellishments, is as follows: In 1969, Mexican millionaire Enrique Corker bought a mansion in Acapulco. His wife Vivian loved to play tennis. When she found out that there was no tennis court near her, she was very disappointed.

Due to the limitations imposed by the landscape, Corker was unable to build a standard tennis court. He decided to build on its site an analogue of a tennis court, but smaller: 20×10 m, enclosing it with four-meter walls of durable glass. Rackets that looked like oars were chosen for the game, which gave the name to the new sport: “padel” (translated from English as “rowing”).

Padel is a symbiosis of other racket sports:

squash (bouncing off walls); tennis (scoring, direction of serves, strokes, etc.); beach tennis (similarity to table tennis rackets (serve at waist height);

The turning point was the knowledge of padel by the Spanish businessman Alfonso de Hohenlohe, who in 1974, visiting Corker, admired the game so much that upon his return to Spain he built two courts on the territory of the Marbella Club hotel. This marked the beginning of the international diffusion of paddle tennis.

Over the next 10 years, padel became popular first in Mexico and then in Argentina and Spain. The 1980s and 1990s saw the international spread of padel, with the construction of courts around the world and the formation of official organizations and associations, which helped standardize the rules.

In the 2000s, a period of strong international growth began: padel was included in the programs of sports clubs in many countries and interest in this sport continued to grow. The 2010s and the following decade have elevated paddle tennis to the status of one of the fastest growing sports in the world, increasing the number of players and fans in all corners of the planet. Thus, paddle tennis, which began as fun for a family in Acapulco, became a global sporting phenomenon. It’s amazing how passion and love for sports can transform a simple idea into a global movement.

Photo: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/DRAZEN ZIGIC

Paddle court and equipment

Padel is played on a special court that combines elements of tennis and squash. A padel court is rectangular in shape and measures 10 m wide by 20 m long, which is smaller than a standard tennis court. A special feature are the walls that surround the site, to the sides and behind. The side walls are 3 m high and the rear walls are 4 m high. They can be made of glass or hard material, which allows the ball to bounce off of them, adding a unique strategy to the game.

Maxim Stuliy: As for the rackets, they differ from tennis rackets. They are shorter, have no strings, and are made of a hard material with many small holes throughout the firing pin, making them more maneuverable.

An 88 cm high net passes through the center of the court, dividing the court into two equal parts. Paddle balls are similar to tennis balls, but are slightly softer and slower, making the game more controlled and strategic. There are no special shoes for padel; tennis shoes with good grip and support will do. Clothing should be lightweight and ventilated to allow ease of movement and effective moisture management during intense play.

Photo: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/JULIO ALCANTARA

Basic rules of padel

Maxim Stuliy: The game is played in a two-on-two format. Two pairs, each on their own half of the court, play against each other. At the beginning of the game, the side and the first serve are drawn.

The first serve is always performed from the right square diagonally to the opponent’s left square. The server throws the ball down the court and, after bouncing, hits it at waist level or below. The ball must touch the opponent’s field in the left square at least once; only after that can the serve be accepted. If the ball hits the side of the wall, it is an out. And if, after the rebound, the ball hits a hard part of the wall, then the serve is correct, and you must have time to accept it after hitting the wall.

The ball can bounce off any wall, but it must first touch the court. After bouncing off the walls until the ball hits the court a second time, it is in play and can be kicked.

The scoring system in padel is the same as in tennis: games, sets and matches. A match is played to four points (15, 30, 40 and game point), a set to six games (with the need to win the set by at least two games) and a match normally consists of three sets.

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Differences with traditional tennis

Paddle tennis shares some similarities with tennis, however, there are key differences between the two sports. For example, paddle tennis requires more strategic thinking. This refers to the use of smaller walls and courts, which affects the general style of play: in padel it is more effective to use precise and accurate hits than strong hits. In tennis, athletes focus more on strength, mobility, and using the open space of the court.

Maxim Stuliy: Padel will also be easier to learn for beginners; classic tennis will take longer to master. Of course, to learn to play padel well you will have to dedicate a lot of time, but you will be able to master the basic skills in the first training session.

Photo: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/JULIO ALCANTARA

padel technique

In padel, as in other racquet sports, the correct execution of strokes is the most important element of the game, without which nothing will work. Let’s look at the two main techniques that padel borrowed from classic tennis.

We have already talked about the serve a little above, now let’s talk about the forehand and backhand.

Forehand It is done like this: the legs are turned towards the strike, one leg slightly in front of the other. Body weight is transferred from the back leg to the front leg at impact. The racket is removed by rotating the body and abducting the arm. At the moment of impact, the racket continues to move in the direction of the ball.

Reverse – This is a blow from the inconvenient side. That is, if you are right-handed, then the movement of the racket should start on the left side. The racket should be held in both hands so that the back of the hand moves towards the ball.

Below are some more elements without which it is difficult to imagine padel.

“Forehead”. This is a defensive hit, it is performed along a high trajectory so that the ball flies behind the opponent’s back.Bandeha. A soft shot with a slight backspin, taken toward the back of the court to keep opponents on the defensive while you take an active position at the net.Snake. An attacking blow, technically similar to a bandeha, with strong acceleration and use of the wrist. Performed from the middle part of the court with high balls.Smash. A powerful attacking shot on a high ball to win a point.Volley. A volley shot into the net toward the back of the court. Forces the opponent to continue defending against the back wall.Drop shot. A soft volley near the net. It is done so that the ball lands in the opponent’s field as close to the net as possible.

In padel it is important to use the walls as part of the strategy, so players must learn to control the strength and direction of their shots so that the ball bounces off the walls effectively, making it more difficult for the opponent.

Photo: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/BRUBY

how to trim

Maxim Stuliy: As in tennis, trimming plays an important role in paddle tennis. By cutting the ball, you add spin and make its flight path more complex. The ball will bounce lower, this will create certain inconveniences for the opponent. In this way, you make your game more variable, forcing your opponent to adapt and constantly change the pace of the game.

When hitting, the knees should be slightly bent, the feet should be shoulder-width apart, and the racket should be back and up. The ball is hit up and down with an accelerated movement of the wrist at the moment of contact, imparting underspin to the ball. After the shot, extend the forward movement of the racket to give the ball the desired trajectory.

Cutting in padel requires practice and feel for the ball, but mastering this element will significantly expand your arsenal and your game will immediately become more varied and unpredictable.

Tactics in doubles play

As in many other sports, tactics play a fundamental role in paddle tennis. If we talk about double padel, then here the coordination of actions is very important. Typically, one player takes an active role, landing final blows, and the other takes a creative role, creating attacking opportunities. The team that controls the net usually has an advantage, as it allows them to attack more aggressively and create pressure on their opponents.

Photo: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/JULIO ALCANTARA

Popularity and development of paddle tennis

Such rapid development of this sport is due, as we have already said, to the relative ease of learning. Also important is the factor of low physical activity compared to, for example, tennis or squash. Paddle tennis is accessible to people of all ages and different levels of resistance. The court is small, there are walls that you can interact with. That’s why it’s so easy to start playing paddle tennis, you just need to find a suitable court.

Development trends of padel in Russia

Maxim Stuliy: Since its appearance in Voronezh in 2013, when the Spanish athlete and coach Christian Tarueya laid the first stone for the development of padel in the country, the sport has not stopped conquering the hearts of Russians.

The inclusion of padel in the All-Russian Sports Register in 2019 was an important step towards its official recognition and development. Despite the lack of free urban courts similar to those in South America and Spain, interest in padel is growing rapidly in Russia. This is reflected in the increase in the number of venues and specialized clubs, as well as in the organization of numerous tournaments, opening new horizons for players of all levels.

Despite its relative novelty in Russia, paddle tennis is developing little by little and more and more people are learning about it. Perhaps after reading this text the paddle tennis community will also grow. If you are interested in this unusual sport, find a suitable sports club and sign up for training. Trying something new is always great.

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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