You've heard about the game and you want to know what it is all about. Padel is currently the fastest growing sport in the world and is taking off in South Africa, it has certainly got people talking about it.
As a newbie to the sport, or a beginner player, you have to process a lot of new information. That feeling of playing your first few matches, improving on your skills and winning is great, so here are 8 beginner Padel tips, to help you win more matches.
1. Play with better players
The first of the beginner Padel tips is to play with better players. You may not notice it, but when you play with better players, your level will go up. When you are put in a high intensity game with players that are better than you, your game will improve as you are in a much tougher situation and you have to learn and adapt. You will also learn so much, just by watching and observing what the better players do. When you play with better players, a good mindset is key. Don’t give up on a ball or play a certain shot just because you think that the opponent is better than you. Always play the ball, not the opponent.
If you lose a point, think about it and ask yourself how you could have done better. Make sure you actually analyse why you lost the point, a dangerous mindset to have in Padel is “there was nothing I could have done there” instead think “how could I have got that back” or “what went wrong in that point”. If you have the first mindset, then you won’t improve as quickly as you want to.
2. Book lessons with a coach
Coaches will help fix your technique and give you many tips and tactics. One of the most important points to learn first is "court craft", which is all about your positioning on the court. I would advise having a 1 on 1 session, rather than having 2 - 4 students with 1 coach. This isn’t to say that group sessions aren’t beneficial, because they are, but a 1 on 1 session is a lot more personal, and the coach can spend a lot more time teaching you what you need to fix.
Technique is very important. With good technique, your shots will be:
- Harder to get back.
- More effective.
- Feel more natural.
- Be more consistent.
This is hard to learn just from watching others. It is better to book a lesson with a coach to learn technique. However, in saying that, watching the top players on the World Padel Tour will give you a better understanding of the game and court positioning.
3. Learn to play off the walls
Playing off the walls can be really hard to learn, especially if you come from a tennis background. Your natural instinct is to run back with the ball instead of staying where you are or even moving forward and waiting for it to come back off the wall.
The walls are crucial for you to learn. The wall is your friend as well, it can help you win a lot of points, especially when you get to a higher level. This can be hard, so below are some beginner Padel tips for the walls.
- Stay relaxed and steady.
- Prepare the racket early.
- Judge the pace and depth of the ball (harder and deeper will cause a bigger bounce).
- Set yourself, weight on the front foot and then follow through.
Watch out for spin, if the ball is played with topspin then the ball will rise of the wall, if it is played with slice then the ball will go down after the wall. If you are struggling with the walls, then just focus on trying to get the ball back, don’t try and do anything special with the ball, just focus on getting it over that net at a slow to medium pace.
4. Learn basic positioning
The next of the beginner Padel tips is to learn basic positioning. Positional play is probably the biggest mistake for beginner players. No matter what background you come from, without guidance, your positioning will be wrong.
Two key things to remember in Padel positioning are:
- Avoid no man’s land - The area in the middle of the court, not at the front attacking and not at the back defending.
- Running to the net at the right time.
To sum it up, avoid no man’s land because it is tough to volley and defend from there. For the net, you need to realise that this is where we are going to win 90% of our shots. You have many options when you are the net, compared to at the back of the court.
Go to the net at these situations:
- After the serve.
- If you or your partner lobs the opponents.
- If you hit the ball past the back line.
Focus your game on “how can I get to the net” rather than “how can I win the point" Do this, and you will win more matches.
5. Continental grip
This one is a little more technical and if you don’t already have the continental grip, then it is going to take a few weeks to get used to it. So what exactly is the Continental grip? Basically, it's holding the grip of the racket like you would a hammer. The continental grip allows you to play the technical shots in Padel a lot easier. Always remember to keep your wrists firm and facing up, not down towards the ground, like you are pouring a jug of water. For beginners, you don’t have to worry about the Bandeja, Vibora, and kick smash yet.
Benefits of the continental grip:
- Gives you more strength and stability in your wrist.
- Allows you to have more spin.
- More acceleration.
- Helps technique across all shots.
- Gives you the best dexterity and manoeuvrability.
Don’t worry if you change to this grip and you start missing your shots and it feels really uncomfortable. It will take a couple weeks, but then after that, it will get a lot easier.
6. Play consistently with consistency
When you play consistently, you get a good rhythm going and that creates momentum. Consistency will help you win a lot more matches. If you focus on getting every single ball back with minimum mistakes, then you will win a lot more games. You will beat people on the same level, or even better than you. You could play someone, who is better than you technically, but beat them just by returning more balls than them and letting them make the unforced errors.
One of the best beginner Padel tips is to play the middle. The middle is very low risk area, with high reward. How many times in a match have you left a ball that is going down the middle because you think your partner is going to take it? This happens a lot, so why not exploit it for the opposition. Play the middle constantly, it is such an easy way of getting points. Low risk as well, if the shot doesn’t go directly in the middle, it will still go to the opponents, compared to if you play a shot down the line, and it goes wrong, it is most likely going to go out, by hitting the side wall first.
Benefits of playing the middle:
- Low risk.
- Opponents might leave it due to poor communication.
7. Take the Pace off your shots
A common mistake for beginner Padel players, is hitting the ball too hard and with top spin. You don’t need to hit the ball hard at all and this game is not meant for top spin shots, unless it's the kick smash. You can play an entire game with 50% power on all your shots, and win. There are only a few instances where we need to hit the ball hard.
- Kick smash.
- Flat smash.
- Aggressive - Vibora/Bandeja/Volley.
These are all rare occasions for a beginner, you should not be trying these right now. Instead, your main focuses for a beginner should be:
- The net game.
- Improving technique.
Think about how hard you can hit the ball, now halve it. That is the pace you need to play at.
Watch the World Padel Tour players. This is professional level, but still notice a lot of the shots at 50% power, some of them are even 20% power.
8. Get equipped
The last of the beginner Padel tips is to get properly equipped for the game. Find the right racket for you, by reading our blog on “How to choose a Padel racket”
A Padel racket that suits your game will allow you to reach your full potential, you could be being held back by something that is not perfect for you. Get some good sports clothing, we recommend lightweight, and breathable. Other items that will help your game improve, are:
- Padel Grips - Overgrips stop your hands from turning on the handle, they make the racket feel more comfortable in your hand and they also help eliminate vibrations.
- Correct Padel shoes, not Tennis or Squash shoes as those have different grips. Padel shoes improve grip and help distribute the sand on the court.
These are just a few of our beginner Padel tips, we hope you enjoyed this article and learned something!