Born in the second half of the 90s, Padel (or paddle) is one of the most popular individual sports in recent years. This sport fascinates many professional athletes and many amateurs because its simplicity allows entertaining and amusing anyone who tries to play it even for the first time.
It is played in a 20 meters long and 10 meters wide field, completely fenced. It is divided in the center by a 88 cms high net, slightly lower than the tennis net.
Precisely because it fascinates many people of all ages and levels, this sport offers some peculiarities that require proper athletic skills. Basic training foundations avoid the risks of injury.
Lots of bounces, yet lots of effort
The facility and the walls surrounding the field have a specific function, since anyone can throw the ball against them leading to create an unstoppable rhythm of play. Unquestionably, one of the first reactions that manifests during a match is indeed the lack of breath and the difficulty of maintaining a constant rhythm.
Compared to tennis, the time of each exchange can be considerably extended. The bounce that is given against the walls helps players respond to each opponent’s action. For this reason, if you are not an expert, there can be exchanges of even 20-30 consecutive seconds. Consequently, a base to work on to better train yourself for a game is undoubtedly the preparation of an excellent aerobic baseline.
If you are a weekend warrior or an occasional padel enthusiast, my advice is to devote at least 30 minutes a week to an aerobic activity such as a run or bike workout. In addition to having a beneficial effect on the cardio-respiratory system, aerobic training prepares joints and muscles to sustain a long-lasting effort. Considering that a round of padel lasts at least 60 minutes, medium to long term aerobic preparation is required.
Not only breath but also many muscles
Shots, throws, changes of direction: this sport has many athletic movements that significantly stimulate our musculoskeletal system. Just think about the moment of the serve. This movement requires good athletic preparation, because an untrained shoulder runs the risk of being injured by straining muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Besides the muscles of the upper body, the muscles of the lower body are also subject to a lot of demands and stimulation. Jumps, abrupt braking, and immediate restarts put our quadriceps and hamstring muscles to the test. It seems far-fetched, but during a game of padel, amateur athletes complete the same number of braking and shots that they would perform during a year conducting ordinary day-to-day movements.
So remember to always warm-up well before the game and also immediately after, to restore muscle stiffness and avoid postural problems.
How can I best prepare for the Wednesday night padel game?
If you are a beginner and do not practice any other physical activity, my advice is to devote one or two days a week to short workouts so that you can prepare your body for the match. Here is a little routine that you can follow:
- Medium intensity aerobic activity (running – jogging – cycling – trekking) 30-40 minutes
- Stretching 10 minutes
- Workout routine to be executed twice, 30 seconds of work for each exercise, and 15 seconds of recovery between them:
- Front Plank resting on elbows
- Push up
- Frontal sinkings
- Bridge for buttocks
- Back extensions
- Isometric squat
- Stretching 10 minutes
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If instead, you already practice some physical activity during the week, my advice is to include in your training routine some activities to boost the strength of your performance. If you are used to jogging, try to incorporate intervals of intermittent running. Complete 30 seconds of running at a fast pace followed by 30 seconds of running at a moderate pace, repeat for 3-4 times, and then rest. By introducing this method into your training, you experience significant improvements during your matches.
Additionally, dedicate 10-15 minutes to upper limb strengthening. If you have an elastic band, perform 3-4 sets of intra-extra rotators at each workout to strengthen and stabilize your shoulders.
In any case, whether you have the right fitness level or not, always spend some time stretching because a muscle that can stretch and contract is always stronger than an atrophic muscle. Also, remember always to keep your body hydrated during matches and workouts to avoid the risk of cramping due to dehydration.
How can I improve my performance if I am an advanced padel player?
If you are an expert in this sport and you practice it with constancy, my advice is to dedicate one or two days a week to the specific athletic preparation needed to perform padel.
As previously suggested, interval training is beneficial to prepare yourself for the many sprints that await you during the match. Try starting with 3 series of 4-minute intermittent runs running 30 seconds at a fast pace and 30 seconds at a moderate pace. Recover 2 minutes and run the following series.
As for weight training, my suggestion is to use tools like Kettlebell, Si-Clubs, Flow-Bag. These tools feature a key component of instability that significantly activates your core and strengthen your joints, activating all stabilizing and postural muscles. However, dedicate some sets to exercises such as Flat Bench, Squat, Deadlift, and Overhead press as they strengthen your muscles.
To avoid incurring in back pain due to the many torsions that occur during the different stages of the game, remember that a firm and active core always protects your spine.
It is up to you to choose whether to devote time to reinforcing your abdominal muscles at the beginning of the workout, as a warm-up, or at the end to finish your routine.
- Professional athletic trainer and high-intensity training specialist.
- Physical trainer for Cesena Calcio football club for three seasons (2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18) as strength and conditional coach.
- Fitness consultant as regards training scheduling and the evaluation of the functional training activities, athletic preparation and online coaching.