It’s tennis, but not as we know it – and the popularity of padel tennis is growing fast
Padel Tennis is recognised as one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Popularised by Mexican businessman Enrique Corcuera who set up the first-ever padel court at his holiday home in Acapulco in 1969, it’s a mix between tennis and squash.
It’s a great sport for players of all ages and skills, as it’s both quick and easy to pick up. Most players get the basics within the first half-an-hour of playing so that they can enjoy the game.
Padel courts are usually designed for four players and are roughly one third of the size of a tennis court. The speed of the game, combined with the smaller size of a padel court, makes singles play difficult, and most padel matches feature two pairs of players. The enclosed courts are surrounded by walls of glass and metallic mesh and the game is played with a short, stringless racquet and a low compression tennis ball.
One of the main differences to tennis is that padel begins with an underarm serve and the server must allow the ball to bounce once before hitting it and the ball must be hit below waist level. The balls can then be played off the off the back and side walls, in a similar way to squash, allowing for longer rallies. Players can bounce the ball off a wall on their own side of the court and you can also volley the ball during a rally, however the ball is determined as ‘out’ should it hit a wall directly.
Like tennis, a set is won when a team wins six games and there is at least two games difference – failing that the set is decided by a tie-break. Matches are best of three sets.
Major benefits of playing padel tennis:
- It’s for all ages – Young or old, it’s a great sport and easy to find someone to play of a similar standard.
- It’s great for de-stressing – Switch off your worries for an hour or so with a few mates, smack the ball around a bit and properly unwind.
- It improves coordination – Padel tennis sharpens up your reflexes and eye-hand coordination.
- It’s not weather dependent – The sport can be played indoors or outdoors, so there’s no worries if it’s too hot or raining.
- It increases strength and muscle tone – Padel tennis is especially good for the legs and glutes but it’s also a cracking all-body workout, burning up to 400 calories per game.
- It’s good for your heart – Like all aerobic exercises, padel tennis improves the cardiovascular system, reducing the risk of heart attacks or failure.
- It’s social – As 90 per cent of matches are doubles, it’s a great way to meet people.
- It’s fun – Regardless of how good you are, padel tennis is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.