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  • Neil

Padel and Me

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

This is a very personal piece so take that as a warning, if all you want from our site is a well priced racket and some great customer service, it might not be for you.

What the game means to me

neil lunging for a padel ball
always keep your eye on the ball

Both Richard and I arrived at padel from a background of different sports. Generally trying to keep fit we tried nearly everything but inevitably the options slowly narrowed as we aged.

I first encountered the game in Majorca on holiday, the house we rented had its own court. My wife and I were confused as to how to play, but we bashed the balls around with the children, just happy the court was contained so I wasn't running all over the place retrieving wayward shots.

Richard came across the game before that in Mexico but he hadn’t played for a while when a friend invited us both to a game and it is safe to say, we fell in love with it that very day.

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Richard and I have been playing Padel for a good period now and we are lucky enough to have a local court so travel is minimal. We meet lots of people that travel impressive distances to play the game and hats off to them. We are lucky that we don’t have to travel far for regular games but I know if we had to, we would.

We generally play with 6 other friends who we will mention going forward but I have changed their names to protect the innocent and so they don’t come round “to have a word” if we get too near the mark.

Getting Organised

Joe organises the courts, he is very committed. He also gets to be first on the list for every game but that is fine with the rest of us. That means there are only 3 places available for the other 7 players and this becomes a text message bunfight when Joe releases the details. Accepted without checking the diary, (business call? moved, dinner with friends? moved, wedding anniversary? MOVED!!!) it is first come, first served. This leads to endless chats about why someone wasn’t ready and where exactly they were at that time, with David always sharing just that bit too much info to be comfortable.

We started, as I suspect everyone does, with the tennis players ruling the roost. Big topspin forehands being their choice of shot. Richard and I from a squash background were perplexed by the net. Who puts a net in the middle of a court and why does it have to be so high.

That being said we enjoyed the glass or at least the reaction of our counterparts to the glass, “this glass must have lumps in it”, “if the ball ever touches the glass it should be out” and the eternal favourite “this game would be better if they played it on a tennis court instead”.

By the way, we have tried to play on a tennis court. Cast your mind back to that heady time during covid when outdoor courts were good to go but we weren’t allowed to enter a building so our normal court was closed. We played on a municipal tennis court. Was it fun? Hmmm, sometimes it was.

Was it Padel? No!

Put simply it was rubbish but at least we were allowed out. Like sitting in the pub garden while it pours with rain, it’s not nice but it’s better than drinking in your pyjamas in the spare room like the previous 10 weeks.

We have 5 tennis players, 2 squash and a badminton player within our crew. It’s amazing how different the approach to shots was. The badminton player hits the ball very hard and straight, incredibly low across the net. Anyone in no man's land is picking that one off their toes. As squash players Richard and I were wristy, very wristy but were good off the mesh and glass.

The tennis guys had a wider range of shots and better control of the ball, I guess because it is closest to a tennis ball(see which padel racket blog piece). They are also much better at spin, alien to both Richard and myself, which is confusing not for movement of the ball but in it’s reaction off the padel racket when returning the shot. It was just another huge learning curve.

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Slowly we have all adjusted to the game, moving as pairs, putting up more lobs, and controlling the power in the shots to keep the ball in.

Eventually, we occasionally got a kick smash. We got a ball back in from outside and then the holy grail, the reach over/drop shot back into the net. Each one regarded as a badge, to mentally sew on to your racket bag akin to being back in the scouts.

Have we all got them all? Of course not! Oversharer David has the most.

Richard had his epiphany moment when he served a complete double fault service game, quite an achievement even for him. That was during what he calls his BLUE period. Apparently all artists have a blue period. Barefoot running had destroyed his calves, tennis elbow was vying with golfer's elbow as to which was the most painful and for some reason he decided that was the correct time to reconstruct his serve!

I am not a golfer but Richard is and he relates this to a period in golf where he had the “yips”. It would appear no matter what he does, he has an excuse for not being very good.

So what have we discovered along the way?

Padel is pretty easy to take up, it is immediately enjoyable and all ages can give it a go. As a family pastime it is low frustration even for small children as they can serve easily and the court is small and the game format encourages doubles, one adult per side unless you are very, very competitive parents.

Time evaporates on a padel court. Time always moves faster when you are having fun.

It gets hot on court so bring some water.

Equipment matters (Oh, here we go!) Rackets affect different aspects of your game. It is worth reading up about the differences as you progress within the sport. (click here for the which padel racket piece). From the rackets to the balls there is a distinct reason to buy the right gear.

Luckily there is a very good website which has everything you need, We highly recommend it, of course.

Hang on, It can’t be all good. So what personally is the most frustrating thing for me, aside from playing with Richard during his BLUE period?

I find my inability to be consistent the hardest. We play a lot and I can be contemplating the World Senior padel tour following an all star performance on Tuesday but thinking about burning my racket come Thursday after my 15th shot into the net (a seemingly unending source of entertainment for the gods of padel).

That’s enough negatives I hear the website developer shout, what are the most enjoyable things about Padel?

It has first and foremost given me a passion, I love it. From playing to watching it, Padel is a wonderful thing to have in my life.

It is very good exercise, and I can see myself playing it for a long long time. This is a good thing as we all need to find more ways to be active.

It is social, you play with 3 other people on a small court so you have added personal interaction. I have met and made new friends and we see each other outside of the padel court. We even take Joe out for the occasional curry for all the organising. Well we did it once and will probably do it again, soonish.

I am constantly improving a new skill which is a great thing to be doing.

It has brought me closer to a long term friend through learning the game and working within Bobl.

If you already play then we would love to hear what Padel means to you. If you are reading this and you haven’t played yet then let me inspire you with a quote from our friend Jim,

“Padel is taking over my life, and I am more than happy to let it”.

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