Having coached players and watched many beginner Padel games, I see the same errors made by new players to the sport. Below is a list of these mistakes, to help you learn from others. The quicker you make changes to these points in your game, the better and quicker your game will progress.
The top 5 beginner mistakes are as follows:
1. Playing too hard and fast
This is the most common of the Padel beginners mistakes. I used to do this all the time, both in attack and in defence, but you will quickly realise that the sport is not meant to be played that way. Yes, you can smash when the opportunity presents itself, but getting to that part in the point is all about strategy and control.
When you first start, you see that by hitting the ball hard, it bounces around the walls and a many players struggle to get it back, so you keep doing it. However, when you move up in the levels and when you watch the professionals too, you will notice that it’s not about this at all, it’s about strategically building a point to give you that opportunity to win it.
An important point to take note of is slowing down and shortening your swing. Ideally, you want to play at a medium pace, around 50-60% and keep everything compact. Slow your swing all the way through the ball, no lavish “tennis style” follow throughs.
2. Not getting the net game right
There are two key factors for getting the net game right. They are:
- Approaching the net at the appropriate time.
Maintaining the net.
A very common beginner mistake is not approaching the net at all, instead players tend to stay at the back of the court, making them very easy to play against.
Sometimes, they might get to the net, but forget to maintain it and start retreating back, where they feel more comfortable. When you are at the net, keeping that position is essential.
Follow these simple guidelines as to when you should approach the net.
- Directly after you have served, you must get straight to the net and into an attacking position.
- When you hit the ball past the service white line, then you must get to the net.
- If you lob your opponents, immediately push forward to the net.
Remember, 80% of points are won at the net position, so if you are not at the net, you have a low chance of winning the point.
3. Preparation of the racket
What do I mean by this? Make sure that you always have your racket up and ready in all situations.
You will notice that the Professionals always have two hands on the racket, with the racket held in an upright position and directly in front of them, not pointing down. My first coach taught me to always have the racket pointed up with a firm wrist, not holding the racket down, like you are pouring water out of a jug. Before every volley and overhead, prepare the racket in front of you and pointing up.
Preparation is really important, it gives you a lot more control, and allows you to perform each shot properly with better technique. It also means that you are able to get your racket in the right position quicker for the next shot, because its already correctly positioned from the start, so that you can easily adjust. This means that each shot will be more consistent and be more effective.
4. Not using the walls
The next beginner mistake is not using the walls enough, especially those coming from a Tennis background. You need to make use of the wall as much as you possibly can. It not only gives you time to think about your next shot, but also the time to execute the shot perfectly.
If you want to improve your Padel game, or even get to a high level of Padel, then you need to becomes friends with the wall.
Practise using the walls as much as possible, the more you practise, the better you will get at understanding how the ball with bounce or return off the back or side walls.
Tips for using the walls:
- Stay relaxed and calm.
- Keep your body in a low position to hit the lob or get those tough low cutting shots back.
- Make sure to use a slow, short swing for your return.
- Let the ball drop and bounce off the wall if you are lobbed and do not snatch at the ball, you have more time than you think.
A lob is a great shot to do off the walls, it gets you out of trouble and can put you back into an attacking position.
5. Not learning "correct Padel" play
What a lot of new players don’t realise about Padel, is that it’s a very strategic game, with a very different playing style to Tennis and Squash. You will never see a Professional Padel player, hitting a top spin shot for instance.
If you want to win more matches and become a “proper” Padel player, then you will need to learn how to play the game in the right way.
Playing the right way, means slowing the game down, using the walls, hitting lobs when you are defending, approaching the net at the right time and finishing the point when you get the opportunity.
I find that coaching, watching Padel coaching videos, playing with better players and watching the WPT matches, is the best way to learn more about the game and how to play it best.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and that it will help you in improve your game.