You will be forgiven if you have never heard of Padel, but now could be the time to brush up on your knowledge of one of the fastest growing sports in Europe.
It’s fun, fast and easy to play and judging by the growth of the sport over recent years, there could well be a Padel court near you.
The Origins of Padel
Although a similar sport was played on British cruise ships and in parts of America during the early 20th century, the sport of Padel was not officially created until 1969.
Mexican businessman Enrique Corcuera was the brains behind the idea, which derived from him not having enough room to build a full-size tennis court in his garden.
Initially played by Mexico’s elite, the game was soon brought to Spain by Corcuera’s friend Alfonso De Hohenlohe and it remains the second-most-popular sport in the Iberian country.
Similarities to Tennis and Squash
Padel is best described as a hybrid of tennis and squash.
The scoring system is the same as tennis, but there are many differences, with the court being smaller and also having walls for players to hit shots against, much as they do in a game of squash.
Serving in Padel must also be done underarm, with the ball having to bounce on the floor once and be struck below waist height, while string-less bats are used rather than rackets and the balls are smaller than they are in tennis.
Like in tennis, Padel can be played in singles or doubles, although the speed of the game makes the latter the more popular format.
Professionally only doubles is played on the World Padel Tour, which is the leading competition for elite players.
Famous Faces Love the Sport
Lionel Messi is arguably one of the greatest footballers of all time, but he is also an avid fan of Padel, so much so he had a court built in his home while he was representing Barcelona, regularly playing with then team-mate Luis Suarez.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gerard Pique and Francesco Totti are also known to regularly play Padel, while it is not just footballers who are fans, with British tennis player Jamie Murray having competed in a British Padel Tour event back in 2015.
Murray has previously described Padel as “a social sport”, which might explain why Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is known to discuss ideas with his coaching team whilst partaking in a friendly game of doubles.
Padel Growing Fast in Britain and Beyond
Padel has been officially recognised as a form of tennis in Britain, with the LTA acting as the sport’s national governing body.
There are believed to be more than 6,000 active Padel players in the country, with 82 courts and 45 clubs available, with all those numbers expected to grow over the coming years.
Britain is one of 57 countries across the world where Padel is played, with calls in some quarters for the sport to be added to the Olympic programme.
To be considered as an Olympic sport, Padel must be played in at least 75 countries, so there is still work to do on that front, but given the growing popularity of the sport, it may not be too long until we see it on the global stage.