Physical preparation for padel is very similar to tennis. I would say that padel is perhaps less demanding than tennis; in fact in the top 16 players of the World Padel Tour you will see some players who are noticeably overweight. It’s impossible to see the same thing in tennis. These players are obviously super talented in their tactical acuity and accuracy with shots, and they compensate for their extra weight with these attributes. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s not important to take great care of your fitness and physique if you want to be a top player or just improve at this sport.
As in tennis, your grip is very important as it will facilitate hitting the ball in a consistent manner, thus avoiding the unforced errors that many times are the main factor between losing and winning a match.
Another problem with playing padel is that you will be using your dominant side of the body all the time with your shots. That can lead to imbalances in your body and which in turn leads to a greater chance of injuries. It could also look a bit funny, you don’t want your forearm on one side to be double the size of the other 🙂 It’s therefore important to work on keeping your body in balance. A great way to do this is to use bodyweight exercises or kettlebells. These two methods of training employ many muscles at one go and hit both sides of the body.
Finally, it’s also important to recover well between training sessions and matches, and that is when foam rolling enters into play. I’ve been using a foam roller for some time and found it really useful for getting blood into the muscles and areas that are most sore after matches. I also foam roll before matches as a way to warm up. Foam rolling can also be used in addition, or as a substitute of, stretching in some cases.
To avoid injuries, before a match there should ideally be a period of warming up. You should be aiming to raise your body temperature as well as practice the movements you will be using during the match. There are lots of rapid, powerful movements during the match, and doing them without having warmed up properly puts you at a much higher risk of injury. Of course, it’s also a good idea to practice your shots before you start a game, and this is mostly in order to get comfortable with the ball and the court, as the balls and surface of the court are always a bit different. You could also use this time to get familiar with your opponent and see if you can notice any weak points right away. You shouldn’t be going all out with your shots during the pre-match practice, primarily because you are still warming up your body and secondly because you don’t want to show all your strengths and weaknesses to the opponent you’re sparring with.
If you can read Spanish, you might also want to check out this blog post that details some padel exercises you can try out.
Hope that helps, I still have a lot to learn about this sport, but using these techniques has helped me stay injury-free and rapidly improve my game in the past few months. If you have any other padel fitness tips, please go ahead and leave a comment.