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  • Neil


A badly formulated analysis of hitting off the mesh

The mesh

The mesh is the most frightening piece of the court for most people. The glass is the more frequently hit part of the court structure and the learning curve while steep is at least attainable quickly. It is the mesh that always imparts feelings of fear, anger and disgust in equal measure.

I guess the first question is why have it there at all. To answer that we have to go back to the origins of the game.

Padel was invented in 1962* in Acapulco by Enrique Corcuera; he converted a pelota/fronton court at his home. The court had low side walls but these failed to contain the ball very well.

When, in 1970, Prince Alfonso brought the game to Spain and built two courts at the Marbella club hotel. The need to contain the ball meant he replaced the low side walls with a full height mesh fence. This allowed spectators to watch and enjoy this great fast paced game without the danger of a ball in the face incident.

Ok, so now we know why it’s there. How do I actually deal with it?

I like to apply a rationalised thought process to the ball hitting the mesh because that's how I deal with stressful events.

The ball has 4 ways of coming off the mesh:-


towards you

away from you


To play effectively off the mesh you must give yourself space due to the fact that you cannot guess how the ball will react.

You cannot pre-position yourself with complete confidence so you need to be further away than for a shot off the glass. This will allow your brain and body time to react to the movement of the ball.

So I enter the shot expecting, (hoping for) an upward or towards me movement. I am positioned slightly further away from the mesh than I would be for the glass and slightly further back too.

If the shot pops up then the ball normally slows down and you have time to hit it back properly. The absolute sin of mesh shots is to miss an upwards “pop” by being too close and having no time to adjust.

If the ball leaps towards you the extra space you have allowed means you should have time to react to the ball.

If the ball pops away from you, back towards the net, you will have the chance to chase it and connect. Realistically that ball, if it’s going over the net at all, is going to be uncontrollable. Just be happy that you appear to have the reactions of a fighter pilot and get ready for the next shot.

If the ball pops downwards off the mesh, it’s basically a lost cause and there is nothing you can do to adjust quickly enough for it. You have to rationalise this in your head. Just accept the fact.

These are my mental stats on a mesh shot

Upwards: 80% chance of me hitting a decent shot. (This is actually my normal chance of hitting a decent shot)

Towards me: 40% chance of me actually keeping it in.

Away from me: There is a chance I will swipe and connect but there is a significantly lower chance of me directing it anywhere on purpose. Lets assign this 25% chance of returning it.

Downwards: 10% of any form of connection and 90% chance of me looking like a fool as I swing and miss.

On a downward movement I will basically, shrug, call the mesh a couple of bad words (which I actually want to call my opponents) and get back on with the game because a bit like a smash out of the back of the court, there is very little I can actually do about it.

Finally, I must admit I actually quite like the mesh, I think it adds something to the game which no other racket sport has. The very randomness makes me smile. That in itself explains everything you need to know about Padel because I think it says something when the most annoying part of the game, still makes you smile.

You have got to love this game!

*1962 is the date stated by the FIP in their document History of Padel.

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