With the hallowed lawns of SW19 resounding to the thwack of tennis balls and the pop of champagne corks and Wimbledon enthralling us, we thought it a perfect time to share some helpful advice for tennis players who have tried, or are looking to try padel.
While the similarities between Lawn Tennis and Padel are there for all to see, the differences which make the transition from the former to the latter tricky are perhaps more subtle. We asked one of our most respected coaches for key pointers to help tennis players transition smoothly to padel paradise.
Karen Hazzard is a professional padel player and a padel and tennis coach. A Padel MBA CPC course graduate, she runs the Game4Padel coaching programme at Withdean Sports Complex, Brighton (currently running at 90-100% capacity with an eye-watering 1200 registered players).
A busy lady, Karen also coaches padel at such historic venues as The Queen’s and Hurlingham Clubs as well as the National Tennis Centre on behalf of the LTA, and still finds time to play competitively for the GB National Women’s padel squad.
And while Karen is the go-to padel coach at some of the most prestigious venues in the UK she has also represented Sussex at County level in tennis and continues to coach tennis at elite level.
So without further ado, here are Karen’s five key pointers for making a seamless transition from tennis to padel:
1: The Grip:
“It’s really important players have a Continental Grip. Transitioners can continue to use a tennis grip i.e. a Western Forehand Grip and so they will tend to swing at the ball with topspin and that ball will go long. Obviously the padel court is shorter than the tennis court so that makes the grip very important.”
2: Slow It Down:
“Padel is a slower game than tennis – so just slow it down. Power is not always rewarded in padel. In this respect, a more accomplished player will return a harder-hit ball by utilising the walls and they will find it quite easy to do so. Players will benefit hugely from using a little less power on court, getting in a rhythm and adding that bit more consistency.”
3: Placement Over Power:
“This leads on from the last point and what I advise is that players try and place the ball in the corners, down the middle and out wide and just keep their opponents moving. Again if you are a tennis player transitioning to padel, if you are using top spin the ball will probably go long or come back off the walls whereas you want to really make your opponent turn.”
4: Work and Move Together:
“It’s important that as a pair you move forwards and backwards together. In tennis you can obviously operate one up, one back, and that works for tennis but in padel if you do that it leaves a gap down the diagonal middle on your side. That means the opposition just needs to hit a nice low, fast ball and then neither of you has any hope of getting it. So, moving forwards and backwards as a pair and making sure you communicate is very important.”
5: Longer Rallies:
"It’s important that you get used to longer rallies in the points. In tennis we can finish the point nice and early and if you come to the net then you are looking to win that point in two or three balls. In padel you can be at the net for a while trying to pressure your opponent and it’s important that you don’t go for the winner too early.
“The best thing you can do tactically is stay at the net with your partner and try and hold that position – you will find that is the most effective way to put pressure on your opponents."
When it comes to the differences in coaching both disciplines, Karen sums up: “Tennis and padel are technically and tactically very different and in physical terms the padel court is also that bit smaller and that clearly has an impact on many aspects.
“Because padel is still quite young in the UK, I am teaching a lot of newer players while in tennis I might have a junior player who I might have to spar with for an hour before they go off to a junior tournament.
“As a coach I just love seeing players progress – it doesn’t matter the age I just crave progress for that player and I try to make sure I achieve that any way possible.”
All of which begs the question: Anyone for padel?