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Padel Tennis Rules: A comprehensive guide to the rules and scoring system of padel

May 17, 2024 9 min read
Padel Tennis Rules: A comprehensive guide to the rules and scoring system of padel Padel Tennis Rules: A comprehensive guide to the rules and scoring system of padel

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    Padel tennis, a thrilling racquet sport blending the best of tennis and squash, is rapidly gaining global popularity. Welcome to the second article in our padel series. This time, we'll delve into all the details you need to start playing padel, from the fundamental rules to the complex scoring system.

    Padel is a sport that welcomes players of all ages and skill levels. Its rapid growth worldwide is no surprise – it's simple to start and incredibly addictive. Whether you're young or old, experienced or new to sports, padel is for everyone. No prior tennis or sports experience is needed. Whether you're a seasoned padel player or a beginner eager to dive into this dynamic game, understanding the rules and scoring system is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we'll cover everything you need to know to play padel like a pro.

    The Basics and Rules of Padel Tennis

    Understanding the rules of padel is essential for ensuring a fair and enjoyable game for all players. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced player, having a solid understanding of the game's regulations can enhance your playing experience and ensure everyone is on the same page. Below is a breakdown of the essential rules you need to know before hitting the court.

    Essential Equipment for Getting Started with Padel

    Before diving into the exciting world of padel tennis, it's essential to gather the right padel equipment. To get started, you’ll need:

    • Padel racket: Smaller and lighter than a tennis racket, with no strings and a solid surface.
    • Padel balls: Similar to tennis balls but with slightly less pressure.
    • Proper attire: Comfortable sportswear and padel shoes for optimal movement on the court.

    To ensure you have the best experience on the padel court, consider investing in additional accessories such as sweat-absorbent grips, comfortable padel clothing and a durable bag to carry your equipment.

    Court and Players

    Padel courts are built for four players and are approximately 25% smaller than a tennis court. The court features a net dividing the playing area and is surrounded by glass and mesh walls, which players can use to their advantage during play. The game's fast pace, coupled with the court's smaller dimensions, makes singles play challenging, resulting in most padel matches being played as doubles.

    The standard padel court for doubles is 10 meters wide and 20 meters long, with the net standing at 88 cm high in the center and 92 cm at the sides. A single court for one-on-one play is 6 meters wide by 20 meters long. Padel courts for children measure 5 meters wide by 10 meters long, suitable for children up to 6 years old. Compared to a padel court, the tennis court is larger with measurements of 23.77m x 10.97m. 

    While there are padel courts specifically designed for singles play, about 90% of padel courts worldwide cater to doubles. At the professional level, the sport is mainly played in doubles, as evidenced by top professionals competing in international padel tournaments.


    The playing area is split into two service boxes on each side of the net – like in tennis – yet enclosed by glass walls, a metal cage, and equipped with doors on both ends.

    Initiating points involves an underarm serve before the rally is live. For a shot to count, it must clear the net and bounce in the court before hitting the wall, to be considered in. Failure to do so results in the shot being deemed out, awarding the point to the opposing team. While serves are permitted to bounce and make contact with the back wall, hitting the cage instead results in a fault. The serve must land in the opponent's service box.

    Padel players take it in turns to serve for a whole game. When serving, the server is required to maintain at least one foot grounded and is prohibited from touching or crossing the service line with their feet during the serve. Hitting the ball across the center service line is permissible.

    To sum up:

    • Service Area: The serve must be hit diagonally into the opponent's service box.
    • Underhand Serve: The ball must be served underhand, with the racket hitting the ball below the waist.
    • Losing Points: The ball must bounce in the server's box before hitting the wall or fence. If the ball lands in the service box and hits the wire fencing, it is deemed a fault. If the ball hits the net then lands in the service box and hits the wire fencing, it is also considered a fault.
    • Second Serve: Similar to tennis, players are allowed a second serve if the first one is a fault.

    General Play

    Players are allowed only a single bounce before they are required to strike the ball. Should it bounce twice on their side of the court, the point is conceded to the opponents.

    In accordance with padel rules, certain shots such as smashes may bounce before going out-of-bounds. You can use the doors to retrieve the ball and keep the rally alive.

    There are two ways you can leverage the walls to your benefit. One option is to allow the ball to bounce off the wall before returning it, while the other involves hitting the ball against the wall to direct it towards your opponents' court.

    During rallies, directing shots to bounce off the cage can lead to challenging rebounds for your opponents. It's important to note that while serves cannot hit the cage, and hitting the ball against the cage on your side of the court is also prohibited.

    To sump up:

    • If the ball hits the net on a serve but lands in the correct service box, it’s considered a let, and the serve is retaken.
    • The ball can bounce off the walls after hitting the ground. 
    • Players can use any of the walls on their own side of the court to play the ball.
    • The ball can only bounce once on the ground before it must be returned.
    • The lines are considered in play only during the initial serve. Otherwise, they do not affect the outcome of each point in the game.

    The opponents earn a point if:

    • The ball bounces twice anywhere on your side of the court.
    • The ball touches you or your partner during play.
    • The ball hits the wire fence, posts, or any other structure before crossing the net or landing in the opponent's court.
    • The ball hits the wire fence or walls before bouncing on the opponent's side of the court.

    The Scoring System

    In padel, scoring mirrors that of tennis and typically follows a structure of sets and games. Winning a set entails securing six games while maintaining a lead of two clear games.

    Similarly, achieving victory in a game necessitates accumulating four points with a two-point lead. Points are tallied as follows:

    15 – denoting one point
    30 – signifying two points
    40 – indicating three points

    In the event of a tie at 40-40, known as ‘deuce,’ the game continues until one player gains a two-point advantage. The player who wins the subsequent point gains the 'advantage' and must then secure the subsequent point to win the game. If the advantage point is lost, the game returns to deuce.

    To sum up:

    • Games: Points are scored as 15 (first point), 30 (second point), 40 (third point), and game point (fourth point).
    • Deuce: If both teams reach 40, the score is deuce. A team must win by two consecutive points to win the game from deuce.
    • Sets: A set is won by the team that first wins six games with at least a two-game margin. If the score reaches 6-6, a tiebreak is usually played.
    • Matches: Matches are generally played best of three or five sets.

      Differences Between Padel and Tennis

      In recent years, padel has surged in popularity, even outpacing tennis in some regions. What makes padel so captivating? While both sports share visual similarities and a nearly identical scoring system, the differences are significant.

      Level of Difficulty

      Padel is easier to pick up and enjoy from the outset. It requires less technical skill and physical conditioning than tennis, allowing players to experience immediate satisfaction. Tennis, on the other hand, is more technical and demands a higher level of fitness, making it more challenging. Achieving an average level in tennis necessitates considerable training and practice. 


      While the scoring and basic dynamics are similar in both sports, padel is distinct in its use of walls and rebounds, and it is always played in pairs. The incorporation of walls and rebounds can be confusing initially, but they ultimately offer players better opportunities to return difficult shots or balls that land in the corners.


      Tennis features a more linear gameplay with counterpoints, ball exchanges, and parallel play. The level of reactive speed required in tennis is less than in padel, where the game is more intense due to the shorter distance between players. However, tennis is more physically demanding due to longer matches and the need for continuous scoring. Effective use of the entire body in each stroke is crucial in tennis.

      Technical Aspects

      The equipment and strokes differ between the two sports. Tennis primarily involves lifted strokes, while padel focuses more on slicing. Additionally, padel rackets are smaller and heavier. Padel courts are built for four players and are approximately 25% smaller than a tennis court.

      Strategy and Agility

      In padel, agility and anticipation of your opponent’s moves are essential. Tennis requires building points methodically, with a greater emphasis on coordination and concentration. In padel, cutting the ball and playing it softly to prevent it from bouncing off the wall or playing short shots are common strategies. Forceful strokes are only necessary when aiming to hit the ball out of the court or directly onto the opponent's side.

      General Tips for Beginners

      Here are some essential tips for padel beginners to help you get started. Stay tuned for more detailed advice in our next article!

      • Warm-up: Before you begin playing padel, it's crucial to warm up properly. To prepare your body for the game, start with some exercises to increase your body temperature and heart rate.
      • Communication: Effective teamwork and communication are key in doubles play. Players should establish clear signals and communication strategies to ensure effective teamwork during play.
      • Regular practice: Regular practice and drills can significantly improve your game.
      • Footwork: During a point, continuous movement is essential, so make sure to take plenty of quick side steps. Keep on your toes to swiftly push off in either direction and reach the ball with ease.

      Padel Courts Map

      With over 450 padel courts spread across Britain and more being constructed, opportunities to play abound. Discover top padel clubs in cities like London, Bristol, Manchester, Derby, Leeds, and Edinburgh, among others. Find your nearest courts and book your next session or coaching session with ease using the padel court map below - click on the map:

      Map Source: LTA Tennis for Britain


      Padel tennis offers a fun and engaging way to stay active and improve your coordination and teamwork skills. By mastering the rules and scoring system, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying this exciting sport to the fullest. Grab your racket, find a partner, and hit the padel court today!

      For all your padel equipment needs, visit Sweatband.com and check out our extensive range of high-quality gear designed to enhance your playing experience. Happy playing!

      - LTA Tennis for Britain: Padel Rules, Link: https://www.lta.org.uk/play/ways-to-play/padel/rules/
      - LTA Tennis For Britain: Padel Courts Map, Link: https://www.lta.org.uk/
      - iPadel: Basic Padel Rules, Link: https://ipadel.co.uk/The-Rules#:~:text=If%20the%20ball%20lands%20in,you%20get%20a%20second%20serve
      - WSBsport Padel: Differences between Padel and Tennis, Link: https://padel.wsbsport.com/en/differences-between-padel-and-tennis/

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