Padel tennis, or paddle tennis, is a sport that utilizes elements of table tennis, badminton and squash to create a unique experience. It’s straightforward to learn the basics, but it takes years to master. This guide on how to play padel tennis from the Padel Master will teach you everything you need to know about playing padel tennis.
Equipment: Padel-Tennis Rackets, Bats & Balls
The equipment you need to play padel tennis is pretty standard throughout the world. Padel tennis bats look just like badminton rackets, with two notable differences: firstly, they have a broader head and a more prominent sweet spot than badminton rackets. Secondly, almost every professional padel-tennis racket has a long handle made of hollow plastic, which allows the player to create a ‘super smash’ effect – producing even more power than usual.
The Court: Padel Tennis Courts Vs Badminton & Squash Courts
Padel tennis is played on a court that looks similar to a squash court without any sidewalls. It’s smaller than a badminton court and has a shorter height. You’ll notice that the front wall is raised relatively high to help players bounce shots off of it more effectively. There are also specially designed padel tennis nets (pictured above) that create many different angles for volleys, not all of which exist in other racket sports.
The Ball: Padel Tennis Balls & Badminton Birdies
Just like any other racket sport, padel tennis uses a lightweight ball made from tightly wound string. It’s slightly larger than a squash or badminton birdie and is often coloured differently to help players tell them apart.
What Is Paddle Tennis All About?
Paddle tennis is the same as regular tennis, except instead of hitting the ball over the net, you have to smack it against a wall. There are no rules about which part of your body has to make contact with the ball, so you can serve using your head or butt if you want! It’s also possible to play padel tennis with three people, where one acts as a server and the other two work as defenders. Padel tennis can be highly competitive, or it can just be for recreation – it’s up to you!
The Rules of Padel Tennis (Paddle Tennis)
Padel Tennis is a very fast-paced game, so it’s easy to forget the rules if you’re not used to them. Here are some key points to remember before your next match:
1) The ball must bounce once on each side of the court before returning over the net. (This prevents players from using shots that can go straight over the net without returning – one of the essential rules in padel tennis.)
2) You must bounce the ball once on your side before hitting it. (This rule prevents serving into the net or above your opponent’s head, something that would happen all too often if you could serve immediately!)
3) Each player has two chances to serve each point. (Just like in table tennis.)
4) The players stand behind the baseline while serving and returning. (This is just like tennis, but there are no lines on the court.)
5) Players can’t hit the ball over the top of their opponent’s head for any reason other than trying to get it to go ‘out’. (If you do this, then your opponent gets the point. However, if they manage to return it or miss it, then you’re free to play again.)
6) If a player hits the ball out twice in a row, then he or she is automatically lost that point. (It’s much more straightforward than in tennis, and the equipment is much weaker, so it’s easier for problems like this to happen.)
7) There are no time-outs in padel tennis. (You can get a maximum of three chances each game to return your opponent’s shot, but if you miss them all, then your turn ends. This means that matches don’t take very long at all, which is something that’s reflected by padel tennis’ marketing campaign.)
8) The penalties for not following the rules of padel tennis are much more severe than in regular tennis. (The minimum penalty for a rule breakage is losing a point, whereas there’s no such thing as ‘love’. This helps speed up matches because players have to focus much more on following the rules.)
9) The ball can’t touch anything other than your opponent’s feet or racquet. (This is a fundamental rule – it means that you’re not allowed to play shots off walls, floors, ceilings and so on. This makes tennis-like shots (like drop shots and angled volleys) much harder to pull off, making the game more exciting. The speed of padel tennis makes these kinds of shots extra risky too.)
How To Serve In Paddle Tennis (Padel Tennis)
There are several different types of serves in padel-tennis, and the one you choose will depend on how strong your opponent is. Assuming that they aren’t a complete beginner, it’s wise to serve with a forehand whenever possible because your opponent will be expecting a backhand serve from a right-handed player.
The Drop Serve In Padel Tennis (Paddle Tennis)
The drop serve is the most basic and effective way to score in padel-tennis. It’s a lot like a lob but slightly more manageable because you’re only required to hit the ball once rather than twice. The key to this service is not hitting it so hard that the ball travels too far over your opponent’s head – you want them to have plenty of time to react.
The Top-Spin Serve In Padel Tennis (Paddle Tennis)
If you’re a bit more confident in your abilities, it’s worth taking a crack at the top-spin serve – also known as an ‘up and under. As with the drop serve, this only requires one contact with the ball, but it’s a lot more challenging to pull off because you have to hit the ball much harder. You have to get your racket underneath that of your opponent and hit the ball at just the right angle so that it bounces up high on the other side. It will be challenging for them to return!
The Lobs In Padel Tennis (Paddle Tennis)
There are many different kinds of lob, and all of them work in the same way – hitting a powerful shot with a lot of spins that your opponent can’t make contact with. The difficulty is making the ball bounce a few times before it lands – that’s why you have to hit the ball quite hard. The upside is that you can control the pace of your shot a lot more quickly than in most other racket sports, so you don’t have to worry about sending your opponent off the court.
The Drop Lob In Padel Tennis (Paddle Tennis)
The drop lob is a variation on the drop serve, except it’s slightly harder to pull off because the ball has to hit the front wall and then get deflected over your opponent’s head. If you’re feeling confident, this can be a very effective way of winning padel-tennis matches.
The Top-Spun Lob In Padel Tennis (Paddle Tennis)
The top-spun lob is best used when you’re in an incredibly confident mood and need to land a crushing blow against your opponent. You have to hit the ball with as much spin as possible, which means using a lot of backswings – it’s one of the more difficult shots in padel tennis.
The Slices In Padel Tennis (Paddle Tennis)
The slice is a much more advanced shot than the previous three because it requires you to turn your wrist to generate spin – something few beginners are capable of. The proper name for this serve in padel tennis is called a ‘windscreen wiper’, and it’s essentially just a backhand slice that travels with extreme spin. It’s easy for an opponent to hit this kind of serve back into your court, so if you’re going to attempt it, then be sure to follow up with a drop or top-spun serve!
The Dropshots In Padel Tennis (Paddle Tennis)
The dropshot is the riskiest and advanced shot in padel tennis. It’s tough to pull off because you have to hit the ball shallow on one side while it’s travelling at high speed across your opponent’s court. The key is to hit the ball with a lot of topspin before landing. This will ensure that it bounces over the net and into your opponent as soon as possible.
The Lob-Lobs In Padel Tennis (Paddle Tennis)
The lob-lob is a very advanced shot that requires you to pull off the two most challenging shots in tennis almost simultaneously: one backswing and one slice! It’s challenging to perform, but if you manage it, your opponent will be helpless because they won’t return your shot.
The Low-Dropshot In Padel Tennis (Paddle Tennis)
The low-dropshot is one of the most challenging shots in padel tennis, and it works against almost all opponents because it’s tough to return with a standard backhand. You have to hit the ball at a shallow angle, but it still travels incredibly fast when it hits the net. As with the normal dropshot, you want to follow this one up immediately so that your opponent can’t get themself back into position!
The Slice-Lob In Padel Tennis (Paddle Tennis)
The slice-lob is another advanced shot in padel tennis, and it’s a great way to end your point. You have to do the same fundamental thing as for the low-dropshot, but you then need to send the ball over your opponent’s head with lots of topspin so that they can’t make contact. The amount of spin makes this shot almost impossible to return, and you can expect your opponent to go wild if they manage to win the point.
That’s it – four advanced shots in padel tennis! If you want some more advice on these tricky shots, try watching a few videos of professionals playing and see how they do it.
So, there you have it – everything you need to know about how to play padel tennis. If you want to play but lack the equipment to do so, we recommend checking out the padel tennis equipment reviews we have produced for you. You might find something you like.