Padel has now been officially recognised as a discipline of tennis in Britain, with the LTA being confirmed as its national governing body. Its popularity is growing on home soil, more padel courts are currently increasing in all over the world. As one of Europe’s fastest growing sports, padel is easy to play, fun and sociable – and it’s just been officially recognised as a form of tennis.
1) Padel was invented in Mexico in the 1960s
Although a similar sport was played on British cruise ships and in Washington and New York in the 1910s – a game appropriately named platform tennis – it was in 1969 when padel, as it is played today, was created. Mexican businessman Enrique Corcuera set up the first-ever padel court at his holiday home in Acapulco – and the rest is history.
2) Padel is played in doubles
Padel courts are designed for four players and are roughly 25 per cent smaller than the size of a tennis court. The speed of the game, combined with the smaller size of a padel court, makes singles play difficult, and most padel matches feature two pairs of players.
Some padel courts are designed especially for singles, but around 90 per cent of all padel courts in the world are doubles specific. At a professional level only doubles is played on the World Padel Tour, the leading competition for elite players.
3) Padel rules are similar to tennis – but you serve underarm
In padel scoring is the same as tennis – but there are many differences between the sports. A padel court has walls, so shots can be played off them, like in squash.
Also, unlike tennis, when a ball is served it must bounce once on the floor then hit from below, or at, waist height. When serving, players have two attempts to hit into an opponent’s box.
Like tennis, a set is won when a team wins six games and there is at least two games difference – failing that the set is decided by a tie-break. Matches are best of three sets.
4) Lionel Messi has a padel court in his garden
Arguably the world’s best footballer, Lionel Messi, is known to be a huge fan of padel. The sport – which is played by around two million people in his native Argentina – is popular with many footballers, with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gerard Pique and Francesco Totti also known to be regular players.
Messi is such a fan that he has a court at his home in Barcelona, Spain, and has been seen playing there against former team-mate Luis Suarez.
5) It’s the second-most-popular sport in Spain
Not only is padel wildly popular in Argentina, but it’s most commonly played in Spain. The European country has more than 20,000 padel courts, with an estimated four million active players. Behind football, it’s the country’s second-most-popular sport.
6) Jamie Murray has played in a professional padel tournament
Another well-known padel advocate is seven-time Grand Slam champion Jamie Murray. The former doubles World No 1 tennis player has described padel as ‘a social sport I play with my friends’ and even took part in a British Padel Tour event in 2015.
7) Padel balls are smaller than tennis balls
On first glance padel and tennis balls are almost identical – but there’s a big difference. Padel balls have less pressure so do not bounce as much as tennis balls, and they’re slightly smaller.
Padel is also played with ‘bats’ instead of ‘rackets’. Padel bats are stringless and are shorter than tennis rackets.
8) Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp plays padel with his coaches
In an interview with the Daily Mirror it was revealed that football manager Jurgen Klopp is a regular on the padel court – and he uses the game as a place to discuss ideas with his coaches.
His assistant manager, Pep Lijnders, said: “The game has been a nice distraction from our daily routine. And yet, sometimes we come up with the best ideas to solve issues during these games.
“We sit down on a bench in between two sets and we discuss solutions for football problems. In fact, we do that a lot. When you are constantly playing matches or doing top-level training sessions every day, there is no time to wind down, so these games are the perfect moments to relax.”
9) There are more than 6,000 padel players in the UK
As of November 2020, there are around 6,000 active padel players across the UK. There are also currently 82 padel courts in Britain at 45 clubs – a number that is set to grow substantially over the coming years.
(10) Padel is not an Olympic sport (yet)
While padel is not an Olympic sport there have been many calls for it to become one, as it continues to grow worldwide.
Currently padel is played in 57 countries across the world – in order to qualify as an Olympic sport, the sport must be played in at least 75 countries.
As it continues to go global, let’s watch this space padel fans!