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WHAT IS PADEL?

THE GREATEST GAME YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF

If you are from South Africa then there is a good chance you have never heard of the game of padel. So, what is it? How do you play it? And why all the fuss?

Padel is a game that commonly gets described as a mixture of tennis and squash, and is a refreshing addition to the racket sports genre. It is played by four people, on a court surrounded by glass walls and mesh fencing, that is roughly half the size of a tennis court. It is easy to pick up, especially compared to the more traditional racket sports, and even without coaching or guidance, one could easily grasp the fundamentals of the game in a session or just by watching a quick video tutorial. The gameplay is identical to tennis, with the key differences being the walls surrounding the court, which the ball can either be played into or off of.

Padel is a very social game which you can play with your friends and family regardless of age and gender. Because the game is played in a tightly enclosed space it is fast and moves at an exciting pace with matches normally finishing within an hour, that’s if you don’t want the inevitable rematch!

Padel is often titled as the “fastest-growing sport in the world”, and there is a strong case for it to be included in the Olympic Games in the foreseeable future.

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PADEL IN A NUTSHELL

HOW IT'S PLAYED

Padel is a doubles game, that is played on a synthetic court surrounded by glass walls and mesh fencing.  The court measures in at 20m x 10m and is separated by a net in the middle. The walls are there to give you another chance at playing the ball, so the ball can essentially bounce twice, once off the ground and then off of or into the wall and back over the net. The scoring system is identical to that of tennis.

RULES:

  • After the ball has been served the ball is in play and can be played by either of the players

  • Players can hit the ball off the volley, off the bounce and over, off the wall and over or even play the ball back into the wall and over.

  • A direct hit into any off the walls surrounding the court is a foul

  • A serve is made diagonally as in tennis, with two serve attempts allowed and one net let

  • The returning team and the server have to stand behind the service line while the server’s partner can stand where they want on their side

  • The serve must be played off a bounce and below hip level

  • The ball has to bounce in the opposite box. If it does not it is a fault.

  • The scoring system is identical to tennis
  • Points are given as 15; 30; 40; Point or Deuce
  • The set is won when a team gets to 6 games with a 2 game difference
  • If it ends at 6-6 then there is a tie-break as in tennis

WHY PADEL

EQUIPMENT

PADEL RACKET

a Bullpadel Vertex02 Pro padel racket

padel racket is a stringless racket made from a solid shell that is a mix of plastic and carbon fire composites.
It consists of an inner foam core, strong outer support and a plastic face that is pierced with holes to help with aerodynamic movement.
The neck is reinforced (typically in carbon fibre) and connects to the handle/grip. It is slightly heavier than a tennis racket but is a lot smaller and easier to handle. The sweet spot is also a lot closer to the hand and easier to find, which gives the player more control.

PADEL BALL

a can of Bullpadel Gold padel balls

The padel ball is almost identical in look and feel to a tennis ball, with the key differences being that a padel ball is slightly less pressurised and is a fraction smaller. A padel ball must bounce between 135CM – 140CM when dropped from a height of 2,54M onto a hard surface this means that the padel ball is slightly less bouncy than a tennis ball but is made this way due to the nature of the game. Because padel is played in small confined space surrounded by walls the ball does not need to travel as far or as rapidly as in tennis.

PADEL COURT

Padel Court Specs

The padel court is unique in its appearance and design. The padel court is about half the size of a tennis court and is surrounded by mesh fencing and glass walls. It has a net that separates the two sides, as in tennis, and is played on a synthetic grass surface similar to astroturf. It is very modern looking and allows for great spectatorship and viewing wherever they are placed. Due to its relatively small surface area, compared to most other sports, a court can be put up in a great number of places and venues.

THE HISTORY OF PADEL

Padel’s history is by no means a clear-cut story with many versions of how it all began. However, through our research, it seems that it went a little something like this…

Mr Enrique Corcuera, a wealthy businessman from Mexico, decided to build a tennis court in his hometown of Puerto de Acapulco, Mexico in the late ’60s. He had a small area to work with, so to stop the ball bouncing out of play he built a wall around it. He decided to name it Padel Corcuera, while his wife Viviana, put together the first rule book for this new sport.

A few years later his good friend from Spain, Alfonso de Hohenlohe, was introduced to it. He instantly fell in love with padel (as most people do) and by the mid-’70s had taken it across the pond to Marbella, Spain. He installed two courts of his own at the Marbella Club Hotel and made a few modifications such as the wire fencing.

This is where padel began to gain momentum and grow in popularity due to all his high profile friends and associates, such as King Juan Carlos and ex-Wimbledon champion Manolo Santana.

The game continued to spread across the globe by getting taken back to South America, but this time to Argentina, by De Hohenlohe’s friend, Julio Menditengui. Padel exploded in Argentina and didn’t take long in becoming the country’s second most popular sport after football, as has now happened in Spain. These two countries were essential in the growth of padel and thanks to their massive tourism industry helped introduce the world to the sport.

Today, the still relatively unknown padel is played by around 12 million people on almost 30 000 courts in over 40 countries across the globe. 

And, it’s just getting started...

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