As we close in on our first CPC (Certified Padel Coach) training course in early March to be held at our Edinburgh Park HQ (and already fully subscribed), it seemed a great time to catch up with the man who has masterminded the very ethos of the programme which is revolutionising coach education in our much-loved sport.
Nino Sanchez-Alcaraz helped to create Padel MBA, to devise the CPC course, and is the key Padel MBA ambassador responsible for overseeing the delivery of Game4Padel courses in the UK.
By way of a taster into what inspires Nino and his thirst to create a new generation of coaches who are every bit as passionate about padel as he is, we felt it was a good time to sprinkle a little Spanish sunshine in the bleak UK mid-winter.
A respected Professor of Sport Science at Murcia University, Nino was also a fine padel player in his native Spain, reaching the highest level in his homeland before his passion for coaching became all-consuming. As he looks back over his years in padel it is interesting to hear how change has informed the game.
Over to you Nino: “Coaching has changed in the last few years with the courts and rackets a little different to 10 or 15 years ago and the pace of the game now much faster as a result – players hit stronger with the current generation of rackets,” explained the Spanish coaching master.
He continued: “Also the truth is although the courts are slower, the game is faster and the points are longer – lasting 20-25 seconds with high intensity, whereas before that the points were slower and shorter. And technically padel has become more complex.
“So, players now have to be fitter, build the point more, work harder and be more aware tactically. And so, within the CPC course we work a lot on positioning, technique, tactics and of course the variety of shots like the Bandeja.
“Tactically things have changed in the sport from the classic positions and also with the beginners positioning on the court: you have the two positions in at the net, which is more attacking, than at the back of the court which is more defensive.
“Professional padel was also like that but now it has changed and you can see players go into the net much more, using the volley the Bandeja or the smashes. Previously when two players were in at the net their opponents were all the time at the back (like in tennis) and now you see they move forward to put pressure on the net players with volley or smash or hit Bandejas.
“Technically you also see they play more aggressively, especially with the Bandeja, and with changing the rhythm with a lot of lobs and Chiquitas (when the ball is hit to the feet) so it is very interesting how padel has changed at the professional level.”
Focusing on the CPC course, Nino underlined the three key tenets that underscore it: “On the course we have a little bit more beginner level content and we focus on the basics of technique and tactics, and especially on the methodology and how to develop a lesson, plus we design drills because our target as coaches is to make sure our students all learn.
“They have to learn but must also enjoy the social aspects of padel and have fun if they want to promote padel. We really value and integrate feedback from students.
“These are the three main aspects in the course. Technical and tactical content is important but how to run the lesson, have fun and improve are the key parts to the CPC course.”
Reflecting on his own roots within the sport Nino recalled: “I started quite young and converted from tennis when I was at university, I was at a good level, maybe national standard in Spain, but I left and started coaching in 2006 when padel came to my city in Murcia and they organised the World Cup.
“Then from 2006 until 2012, I played at a strong level – both in Murcia and still at national level – but not professional as I continued to work mainly as a coach and although I won some tournaments the level was not as high as now. While I was at the top in my area in Spain, when people began to play professionally, I did not have the time to do so and gradually I could no longer beat them.
“That is what I tell my coaches and students, you don’t need to be the best player in your club to coach but you must have a minimum technique to be able to rally with a player to allow them to get the most out of their lesson.”
With the padel boom, which Game4Padel is firmly at the forefront of, now firmly underway in the UK we asked Nino just how he saw our sport developing and he drew an interesting comparison: “If you look at Sweden for example, I am pleasantly surprised at the level there. The Swedish people have been playing padel for around three or four years now. Having worked over there we have seen how things have grown with junior tournaments and now senior competitions.”
Nino continued: “The UK is maybe only one year into that process but perhaps in around three or four years you can have UK players on the tour at the very top level.
“Look at Tia Norton – she is professional and has a really good level – but to get the right number of players through to the top level you need that base starting with kids from 10- or 12-years-old and focusing on basics and making it fun.
“Then it is about coaching them for three or four years and next moving on to maybe FIP Rise tournaments and basic World Padel Tour competitions.
“You must remember Spain and Argentina have been playing for a long time but it would be very good for the sport in five or six years to have more countries with a really good level and that process has now started in the UK.”
If you would like to book a place on our June or October CPC course at Edinburgh Park, please click on the link below:
An overview of the three course modules can also be viewed here: