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Basic Rules for Padel: A Complete Guide

Padel, a blend of tennis and squash, is a thrilling game for all. With unique scoring, underhand serving, using walls for play, and solid paddles, Padel offers a fresh sporting adventure!

Padel, a racquet sport akin to tennis, is earning a robust following, especially in Spanish-speaking regions like Mexico, Spain, and Argentina. Interestingly, the game is also expanding its presence across other continents.

If you’ve been to Spanish resorts in the UK or you’re from the USA where the game is known as Paddle, you might already be aware of this engaging sport.

Encouragingly, many schools are creating Paddle clubs, reflecting the sport’s escalating popularity among the younger generation.

Tracing its roots back to 1969, Padel was invented by a gentleman named Enrique Corcuera in Mexico, who modified a piece of his land by surrounding it with walls, leading to the birth of a new racket sport.

The International Padel Federation now oversees the game, which has garnered international attention.

Many of the basic rules for padel align with tennis, but there are noteworthy exceptions. The service line, for instance, necessitates serving by bouncing the ball on the ground and striking it below hip level.

Padel is uniquely defined by its rules around the wall, as it’s played on an enclosed court. A padel match is usually a best-of-three or best-of-five set, with each set won by the first side to claim six games. Points can be scored when:

  • The ball bounces twice on the opponent’s court.

  • The opponent hits the ball into the net.

  • The opponent hits the ball outside the play area or against your walls.

  • The opponent hits the ball into their grid.

  • An opponent is struck by the ball.

two couples playing padel sport

Decoding Padel Equipment

One of the first things you notice when starting to play padel is that it’s played on an enclosed court, approximately a third the size of a tennis court. The playing surface of the padel court, divided by a net and surrounded by walls, can be terracotta, blue, or green and made from materials like cement, synthetic substances, or artificial grass.

One of the most striking features of padel is the distinct racket used, a departure from the longer rackets used in other racket sports like tennis.

Padel rackets, made from composite materials with a perforated surface, are designed for optimal airflow and control. The face measures 26cm x 29cm, and the overall length is 45cm.

padel racket

Start with Proper Player Positions

The basic foundation of padel starts with players positioning themselves in pairs on either side of the net. The server initiates the play, and the receiver returns the ball.

Players can stand anywhere within their court area, and they switch sides when the number of games played is odd.

If a mistake occurs and the players don’t switch sides, they should correct it as soon as noticed to maintain the correct order of play.

Remember, the maximum rest time between games is a brief 90 seconds.

girl playing padel tennis, holding racket

Scoring in Padel

The scoring system in Padel mirrors that of tennis, following the sequence of 15, 30, 40, and game. If the game reaches 40-40, it’s called a deuce, and two consecutive points are needed to secure the game.

Most Padel matches follow a best-of-three format. To win a set, a team must first win six games with a two-game lead. In the event of a 6-6 tie in a set, a tie-break is employed. Here, the game continues until a team reaches 7 points, ensuring a two-point advantage.

This format ensures that the match remains suspenseful and engaging, right up to the final point.

teen smashing in padel game

Serving in Padel

Service in Padel plays a pivotal role in initiating each point. In Padel, all play begins with an underhand serve from the right service court into the opponent’s court diagonally across, similar to tennis. The server must allow the ball to bounce once before hitting it, and the ball must be hit below waist level.

The serve must land in the opponent’s service box. If the ball bounces in the service box and strikes the side or back wall, it is a valid serve and must be played by the opposing player.

If the ball lands in the service box and hits the wire fencing, it is considered a fault.

The server must keep at least one foot on the ground when hitting the serve. The server’s feet may not touch or cross the service line while serving.

In Padel, similar to tennis, the server has two opportunities to complete the serve.

girl smashing in padel sport

Service Faults

Several scenarios are considered service faults in Padel. If the server infringes any rules while serving, misses the ball, or the ball bounces outside the lines of the receiver’s service area, a service fault occurs.

A fault is also recorded if the served ball hits the server’s partner or if it touches the fence marking the boundary of the opponent’s court before the second bounce.

If the ball bounces incorrectly and becomes impossible to hit or recover, or if the server takes more than 25 seconds to serve following the previous point, a service fault is also declared.

Service Faults in Padel

Fair Play

Padel incorporates fair play elements that emphasize skill and technique rather than relying solely on court boundaries. Here are some key aspects to note:

The court lines are considered in play only during the initial serve. After the service, they do not affect the outcome of each point, allowing players to strategically use the walls to keep the ball in play and create unique shot opportunities.

Players are allowed to play the ball off any of the walls on their side of the court, further expanding the playing field and adding a dynamic element to the game.

This ability opens up new angles and shot possibilities, requiring players to adapt their strategies accordingly.

two girls playing padel, doubles

Understanding Ball Play and Winning the Game

The challenge of rallies in Padel lies in ensuring that the ball only touches the playing field once before being sent over the net. Each player can either let the ball bounce or play a volley.

After a bounce, the ball can hit the wall or fencing once or more before being returned over the net.

The game carries on until the ball bounces twice on one side of the net. The point is then awarded to the team on the opposing side. Other rule infringements can also lead to point gains.

To secure a set, a team should win six games with a two-game lead. If there’s a 6-6 tie, a tiebreak is played, which is won by the first team to get to seven points with a two-point lead.

If the game continues to be tied, another tiebreak is played, with the first team to establish a two-game lead declared the winner. The first pair to win two sets is declared the ultimate victor.

middle aged man serving in padel game

Lost Points and Faults

Various scenarios result in a lost point or a fault. Examples include:

  1. The ball bounces twice in the court before being returned.

  2. The ball is volleyed back before it has crossed the net.

  3. The ball directly hits the walls, the metal fence, or any object outside the court.

  4. A player hits the ball twice (double hit).

  5. The ball hits the player or anything on them, except the racquet.

  6. Players touch the net or their opponent’s court during play.

  7. Both players of a team hit the ball simultaneously or consecutively.

Essential Padel Rules to Remember

Here’s a recap of the essential rules of padel:

  1. Padel matches should be played on a standard padel court, measuring 20m x 10m.
  2. Padel games are played between two pairs of players using standard Padel rackets.
  3. Each match begins with a coin toss. The winner can choose to serve first or select which end of the court to start on.
  4. Each team tries to outscore their opponents.
  5. The opponents score a point when the ball bounces twice, the ball strikes a player, or the ball hits the wire fencing or another fixture before crossing the net or entering the opponent’s court (classed as out of bounds).
  6. Matches comprise 3 sets, each made up of six games. The pair who wins two out of the three sets is declared the winner of the Padel match.

Understanding these fundamental rules of padel will allow you to enjoy this exciting and fast-paced game more fully. So, grab your round padel racket, embrace the challenge, and may the best team win!

man holding a padel racket smiling

Etiquette and Conduct

In the spirited world of padel, displaying proper etiquette and conduct is essential. Here are some guidelines to ensure a positive playing environment, Arriving on time demonstrates respect for your fellow players and avoids unnecessary inconvenience. Wear suitable sports clothing and footwear, ensuring that sleeveless t-shirts and swimwear are avoided.

All players, including coaches, should exhibit courteous behavior towards others, both on and off the court. Avoid using offensive language or making gestures that may be considered obscene or offensive to fellow players, spectators, and organizers. Treat the equipment with respect, refraining from throwing or hitting the ball or racket violently out of frustration.

Aggressive behavior, insults, and unsportsmanlike conduct towards opponents, companions, spectators, or any other individuals will not be tolerated.

Always exhibit fair play, adhering to established norms and maintaining respect for the game and fellow players.

man holding padel racket and balls

Master the Rules, and Embrace the Game!

Now armed with a solid understanding of the basic rules of padel, you’re ready to embark on your journey to becoming a skilled player. Remember to practice regularly, embrace fair play, and enjoy the dynamic nature of this captivating sport.

Whether you aspire to compete in official tournaments or simply engage in friendly matches, Padel offers endless excitement and opportunities for personal growth.

So grab your racket, find a partner, and step onto the court to experience the exhilarating world of padel.

Check out our comprehensive video guide below to fully understand the basic rules of this thrilling sport!

Basic Rules

Growing Popularity of Padel

As of July 2023, the global recognition of Padel Tennis is undeniably on an upward trajectory. According to the latest data from the International Padel Federation, the sport has experienced significant growth, boasting over 25 million active players across 90 countries. Spain continues to be the sport’s stronghold, with over 20,000 Padel courts and a myriad of professional players. The United States, though a newer market for Padel, is observing a rapid rise in interest due to the sport’s accessibility and sociable nature.

Despite the enduring popularity of traditional tennis, Padel is closing in fast, particularly within Europe and Latin America. In terms of digital footprint, Google search trends show an explosive increase, with the query “How Popular Is Padel” garnering nearly a million searches. These figures provide compelling evidence of Padel’s escalating popularity on a global scale.


Unlike other racket sports, padel is played on an enclosed court, smaller than a tennis court. The game begins with a service, which needs to be underhand and delivered such that the ball bounces within the opponent’s service box. If a service fault occurs, a second service is allowed. During play, the ball may hit the walls of the court after the first bounce, adding a unique twist to the game. The scoring system follows the same sequence as tennis (15, 30, 40, game), and a padel match usually involves best-of-three or best-of-five sets, each comprising six games.

In Padel, the ball is allowed to bounce once on your side of the court before it must be returned. After this bounce, the ball can hit the walls of the court, which is unlike tennis. It’s crucial to hit the ball in such a way that it lands in your opponent’s court after hitting the wall. If the ball bounces twice on your side, your opponent scores a point.

When serving in padel, you must begin behind the service line with at least one foot touching the ground. The first serve is delivered underhand, and the ball must bounce in your service box before crossing over the net to your opponent’s court. You need to ensure that the ball is hit at or below waist level. If you commit a service fault, you’re allowed a second serve. If the ball lands outside the service box or hits the net and doesn’t land in the service box, it’s considered a service fault.

A tiebreak occurs when the score in a set reaches 6-6. In a tiebreak, the first pair to reach seven points, ensuring a two-point advantage, wins the set. If there’s a deadlock even after these points, the game continues until one pair achieves a two-point lead. This scenario, known as the ‘golden point,’ serves as the deciding point. This format differs from regular play where each game is won by the first side to win four points (15, 30, 40, game) and each set by the first side to win six games with a two-game lead.

To play a padel, you need a round padel racket and a padel ball. Unlike a tennis racket, a padel racket has no strings and is perforated. It’s typically made from composite materials, offering better control. Padel balls are similar to tennis balls but have a little less pressure. You will also play on a unique padel court, which is smaller than a tennis court and surrounded by walls. Remember, in Padel, the walls are part of the game, unlike tennis.

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