Famously social, padel is an ideal pursuit for those wishing to spend treasured time with family and friends over the festive season. And for many, mid-winter will provide the downtime to try padel for the first time.
So we asked Mark Cracknell, for his Top 5 Tips for Beginners. Mark is a Padelmba-trained padel coach at Ipswich Sports Club. The East Anglian sporting institution has built a membership of over 300 new padel members since April 2022, after G4P installed just one pop-up padel court.
Mark shared: “With padel taking hold throughout the UK we are seeing lots of people new to the sport. And while some are transitioning from tennis, squash or badminton, many others are completely new to racket sports.
“To help beginners get the most from their padel experience, they must get a good grounding of the basics before picking up bad habits that are difficult to reverse later. In this respect the following: ‘5 Tips’ have been very helpful to me when coaching people who are new to our sport at Ipswich Sports Club.”
So without further ado here are Mark's handy hints:
1: Gripping The Racket:
There is no definitive answer as to how to grip a padel racket. But the continental (or chopper) grip is the most common. Plus, do not forget to wear the strap – it is in the rules!
2: Waiting For The Ball:
As the boy scout saying goes, ‘Be prepared’. Always keep on your toes with feet shoulder-width apart and adjust your feet and body to face in the direction the ball is coming from. Also make sure you hold your racket centrally, at waist height (or higher if at the net), allowing you to swing to either the forehand or backhand side.
3: When The Ball Comes To You:
Again, preparation is key. As early as possible, take the racket back by turning the body – like opening the door for someone. Be careful not to over swing.
Swing smoothly, contacting the ball in front of your body. As you swing, move your balance onto your front foot. Maintain your balance and return to the correct position on court – prepared for the next shot as per point two. Remember, your shot is not complete until you do!
4: Improve Your Serve:
It is so important at beginner level to learn to serve effectively. Position yourself around a metre from the centre line.
Remember you have two serves, so your first serve can be more aggressive. Aim to hit a flat serve as deep to the opponent’s service line as possible. This keeps the ball low and your opponent at the back of the court. If your ball can hit the glass on the opposition side, all the better, as this will be difficult for beginners to return.
5: Make The Glass Your Friend:
Avoid hitting difficult half-volleys from the back of the court and give yourself more time by making the glass a friend and not an enemy.
For a ball that is hitting the back glass, repeat the technique described in point three. It will require more foot movement to ensure you still contact the ball in front of your body so be prepared to move quickly. This could be either closer to the glass, when the pace is slower, or further away when the shot is much harder.
One For The Road:
Always be ready to receive the ball – prepare early and hit a controlled and consistent return – and you will significantly increase your fun and enjoyment of Padel.
And, of course, you may win more points and games – an added bonus!