What is Padel?

what is padel

Padel is a rapidly growing racket sport that combines elements of tennis, and squash. It has gained immense popularity worldwide due to its accessibility, social nature, and entertaining gameplay. Originating in Mexico in the late 1960s, padel has since spread across the globe, particularly flourishing in Spain and Latin America before making its way into Europe and the United States.

Basics of Padel

Padel is played on an enclosed court that is roughly 25% smaller than a tennis court. The court has walls along the back and sides, which players can use to their advantage, much like in squash. The game is played with a solid, stringless racket and a foam padel ball, which is slightly softer than a tennis ball. Matches are typically played in doubles format, emphasizing the sport’s social aspect and making it more accessible to players of all ages and skill levels.

How to Play Padel

The objective of padel is similar to tennis: players aim to win points by landing the ball in the opponents’ court without them being able to return it successfully. The scoring system is identical to tennis, with games, sets, and matches. However, padel has its unique rules:

  • Serving: The serve must be underhand, and the ball must bounce once on the server’s side of the court before being hit.
  • Walls: Players can use the walls surrounding the court to bounce the ball, adding a strategic element to the game.
  • Glass Doors: The court’s glass doors are considered part of the playable area, so balls hitting these doors can still be played.

What Are The Rules Of Padel?

Court and Equipment

  • Court Size: Padel is played on an enclosed court that is 10 meters wide and 20 meters long, with walls made of glass and metallic mesh. The court is divided into two halves by a net.
  • Rackets: Padel rackets are solid without strings, typically made from a composite material. They are smaller and more compact than tennis rackets.
  • Balls: Padel uses balls similar to tennis balls, but with slightly less pressure.


  • Scoring System: Padel uses the same scoring system as tennis. Points progress from love (0) to 15, 30, 40, and then game point. At 40-40 (deuce), a player must win by two consecutive points to win the game.
  • Matches: Matches are usually played in the best of three sets. To win a set, a pair must win six games by a margin of two. If a set reaches 6-6, a tie-break is played to determine the winner.


  • Serve Method: The serve must be underhand. The server must bounce the ball within their own serving area and hit the ball below waist level.
  • Service Box: The serve must land in the opposite diagonal service box. The first serve must go to the right service box, and players alternate boxes with each point.
  • Second Serve: If the first serve is a fault, the server gets a second serve. Two consecutive faults result in the opponents winning the point.


  • Walls: Players can use the walls on their side of the court to return the ball, similar to squash. However, the ball must first bounce on the ground before hitting a wall.
  • Volleys: Players can volley the ball (hit it before it bounces), except on the serve, where the receiver must let the ball bounce once before returning.
  • Points: Points can be won if the ball bounces twice on the opponents’ side, goes out of the court after hitting the ground within the opponents’ playing area, or if the opponents fail to return the ball to the opposite side.


  • Out of Bounds: If a player hits the ball over the walls or through the open doorways on the opponent’s side without it bouncing on the opponent’s court, it is out of bounds.
  • Net: If the ball hits the net and doesn’t go over, it is a fault.
  • Double Bounce: If the ball bounces twice on one side before being returned, the point is lost.

Specific Situations

  • Ball Touching a Player: If the ball touches a player or anything they wear or carry, the point is lost.
  • Invasion: Players cannot cross into the opponents’ side of the court.

What Makes Padel Unique?

  • Court Design – Padel courts are enclosed with walls made of glass and metal mesh, which are part of the game. Players can play balls off these walls, similar to squash, adding a unique strategic dimension. The court is smaller than a tennis court (10 meters by 20 meters), which makes the game more accessible, as players don’t need to cover as much ground.
  • Equipment – Padel rackets are solid and stringless, typically made of composite materials. This differs significantly from the stringed rackets used in tennis, affecting how players hit and control the ball. And the balls used in padel are similar to tennis balls but have slightly less pressure, which influences the game’s pace and the ball’s behavior on impact.
  • Gameplay and Rules – The serve in padel is underhand, contrasting with the overhand serve in tennis. The ability to use the walls for shot returns introduces a new tactical layer to the game, allowing for creative and unpredictable play. Finally, Padel is primarily played as doubles.
  • Playing OUTSIDE the walls – This aspect of the game is one of its unique features, differentiating it from other racket sports and adding an exciting dynamic to gameplay.

You Can Play Balls Outside of the Walls in Padel?

Yes, in padel, you can play balls that go outside of the walls, under specific conditions.

Playing Balls Outside the Walls

  • Permitted Shots: If the ball first bounces on the ground within the court and then goes over the fence or through any open spaces in the walls without touching the walls, the player is allowed to return the ball from outside the court. This rule applies as long as the ball has not previously hit the wall before going out.
  • Returning the Ball: To successfully return a ball from outside the court, the player must hit it back directly into the opponent’s court, without it touching the ground or any part of the surroundings outside the court first. The ball can travel back over the walls or through the same open spaces in the walls.

Competitive Padel

While padel is enjoyed by millions as a leisure activity, it also boasts a thriving competitive scene. Professional tournaments are held worldwide, with the World Padel Tour being the premier professional padel circuit. These events attract top athletes from various countries, showcasing the high skill level and athleticism required at the elite level.


In conclusion, Padel is a unique and exciting sport that combines elements of tennis, squash, and racketball into one. It’s an exciting game that can be enjoyed by players of all ages and skill levels, making it a popular choice for recreational play. So if you haven’t heard of this game yet, give it a try and see for yourself why Padel is gaining popularity worldwide!

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