How To Play Padel: Getting Started, Rules And Strategies

Two men playing padel

Padel is a rapidly growing racket sport that combines elements of tennis and squash, making it exciting and accessible for players of all ages and skill levels. It offers a unique blend of camaraderie and competition, making it ideal for social gatherings, family outings, or friendly matches with your peers.

If you’re curious about this thrilling sport or looking to improve your padel game, this comprehensive guide will provide you with everything you need. We’ll cover everything from understanding the basic rules and court dimensions to mastering essential techniques and strategies.

At Bluecoat Sports, we’re excited to add four new padel courts to our facilities. Find out more about when they’ll be available and how to hire a court.

Basics of the game

The court

A padel court is a unique and distinctive playing surface that sets it apart from other racket sports. Typically enclosed by walls made of glass, metallic mesh, or a combination of both, the court dimensions are roughly 20 metres long by 10 metres wide. The court surface is typically constructed using artificial grass or a blend of acrylic and rubber, providing a comfortable, low-impact playing experience.

One of the defining features of a padel court is the presence of walls on all sides, which allows players to utilise them during gameplay. The back walls are often made of solid materials, such as concrete or brick, while the side walls are typically composed of metallic mesh or glass. These walls add an extra dimension to the game and contribute to the dynamic and fast-paced nature of padel. Players can strategically use the walls to deflect shots, creating unexpected angles and keeping their opponents on their toes.

Padel court

Scoring system

The scoring system in padel closely mirrors tennis. The goal of the game is simple: outscore your opponents to win. Each game begins at zero, termed ‘love’, and points progress from 15 to 30, then 40, and finally, game point. Winning six games with at least a two-game lead secures a set. Typically, matches are best-of-three sets.

Players and teams

Padel is typically played in doubles, making it a fantastic game for families or groups of friends. The teams are positioned on opposite sides of the court, with partners standing diagonally across from each other. This dynamic set-up creates an exciting and interactive environment where communication and teamwork are crucial game elements.

Essential padel equipment

Padel rackets

Padel racket and three padel balls

Padel rackets are uniquely designed to cater to the specific demands of the sport. Unlike tennis rackets, padel rackets are smaller in size, made of materials such as carbon fibre or fibreglass and feature a distinct rounded shape at the head, often likened to a tear-drop. This design allows for better control and manoeuvrability within the confines of the padel tennis court, where quick reactions and precise shots are essential.

Players should consider their playing style, skill level, and personal preferences when selecting a padel racket. A well-balanced racket with a larger sweet spot is recommended for beginners, as it provides more forgiveness and helps make solid contact with the ball. Advanced players may prefer a lighter, more manoeuvrable racket, allowing for faster swing speeds and enhanced control. Testing and feeling the racket before purchasing is essential to ensure a comfortable and optimal fit for your game.


While padel balls and tennis balls may look similar at first glance, they are two different things, and their characteristics affect how you play and enjoy padel.

Here are the key differences:

  1. Pressure: Padel balls have slightly lower pressure than tennis balls, which impacts how they react off the racket and walls.
  2. Bounce: Padel balls tend to bounce lower due to their lower pressure. This changes the game’s dynamics, making strategy and positioning even more critical.
  3. Durability: Although similar, the slight variations in materials and construction mean padel balls may wear differently over time than tennis balls.


Proper clothing and shoes can significantly impact your game when playing padel. Choose lightweight, breathable fabrics that keep you cool and allow a full range of motion. Opt for sports-specific attire that doesn’t restrict your movement or cause discomfort during play.

Equally important are your shoes. Look for ones explicitly designed for padel, with good grip and support to handle the court’s quick lateral movements and changes in direction. Proper footwear not only enhances your performance but also helps prevent injuries.

Basic padel rules


Mastering the serve in padel is essential, setting the tone for the entire point. Here’s what you need to know to get your serve right:

  1. Serve Underhand: Unlike tennis, you must serve underhand in padel, ensuring the ball is struck at or below waist level.
  2. Diagonal Delivery: You must serve diagonally, aiming for the opposite box. The serve must bounce in this box before it can be returned.
  3. Two Attempts: You get two attempts to make a successful serve. If the first serve fails, you have a second chance to get it right.
Someone serving in a padel game


Scoring in a padel match follows a unique system you’ll need to grasp to track your progress throughout the game.

You score points when:

  • The ball bounces twice in any area on your opponent’s courtside
  • If the ball hits your opponent or any object they wear or carry
  • If the opposing team hits the net during a serve, fails to return the ball, or hits it out of bounds without it touching your side first


The walls in padel play a pivotal role in the game’s strategy and dynamics. Players can strategically use the walls to their advantage by hitting shots that bounce off them at different angles, making it challenging for their opponents to anticipate and return the ball. Like squash, this aspect of the game requires excellent court awareness, as players must constantly assess the ball’s trajectory and position themselves accordingly to make the most of the walls.

The walls also introduce a unique set of tactics, such as the ability to play off the back wall or side walls, creating low, skidding shots or high-bouncing shots that can catch opponents off guard. Skilled players can also execute delicate touch shots by gently caressing the ball off the walls, adding an element of finesse to the game.

Techniques and strategies

Basic strokes

Mastering the basic strokes, including forehands, backhands, volleys, and smashes, is essential for developing a solid foundation in padel. These fundamental techniques are the building blocks for players looking to improve their game.

To get started, focus on:

  1. Forehand and Backhand: Practice hitting the ball with both the inside and outside of your paddle. This will give you control and versatility.
  2. Volleys: Work on your net play by volleying the ball before it bounces. This skill is crucial for aggressive play.
  3. Smashes: Learn to hit the ball overhead with power. A well-executed smash can win you a point.

Advanced techniques

Having established a solid foundation with basic strokes, it’s time to enhance your game with advanced techniques such as lobs, bandejas, and chiquitas.

A well-executed lob can push your opponents back, creating space and strategic advantages. Practice hitting the ball high and deep into the opponent’s court, keeping them guessing.

The bandeja, a versatile overhead shot, requires finesse and control. It’s not just about power; it’s about placing the ball where your opponents aren’t.

Lastly, the chiquita, a soft, precise shot played close to the net, can catch your opponents off guard, especially when positioned at the back.

Mastering these techniques will undoubtedly elevate your padel game, making you a formidable player on the court.


To elevate your padel game further, it’s crucial to understand and implement effective strategies, including precise positioning, seamless communication with your partner, and adaptable match tactics. These elements are pivotal for turning defensive plays into offensive opportunities and controlling the game’s pace and flow.

Here’s how you can integrate these strategies into your gameplay:

  1. Positioning: Always be in the right place at the right time. Anticipate the ball’s trajectory and position yourself to make effective shots.
  2. Communication: Keep a constant dialogue with your partner. Call out shots, discuss strategies, and alert each other to your opponents’ positioning changes.
  3. Match Tactics: Adapt your strategy based on the game’s progress. Switch between aggressiveness and caution as the match demands, exploiting your opponent’s weaknesses while covering your vulnerabilities.

Playing padel at Bluecoat Sports

If you’re looking to dive into the world of padel, Bluecoat Sports is gearing up to introduce four state-of-the-art outdoor padel courts. These new additions are set to complement our current racket sports facilities, including six squash courts, six outdoor tennis courts, badminton, short tennis, and table tennis facilities. Whether you’re a member or not, you’ll have the opportunity to hire these courts and all the necessary equipment to kickstart your padel journey.

If you’re unfamiliar with padel or how it’s played, don’t worry. We are planning a variety of taster sessions and introductory events leading up to the launch. During these sessions, the fitness team will walk you through the rules, demonstrate gameplay, and even let you try a proper game.

Find out more about our padel courts and keep up to date with the progress of the installation.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, padel is suitable for all ages and offers a fun way to improve physical fitness. You’ll enhance your agility, coordination, and cardiovascular health while enjoying a social, less physically demanding sport than traditional tennis.

Padel is easier to pick up than tennis and less physically demanding than squash. The game’s pace and strategy are different, making it a unique middle ground for both beginners and seasoned racket sport players.

You can play padel year-round in various weather conditions. Unlike tennis, padel courts are enclosed, and most have a roof, which makes them playable in light rain or wind, expanding where and when you can enjoy the game.