Top 10 pro tips to winning a match and losing a friend (sorted by nastiness)
by Tilen Zalar and Francesca Ceccotti
Try these ten pro tips from Tilen Zalar, a licensed padel coach, and instantly move to the next level of gameplay (lots of practice not included). For your convenience, we’ve sorted them by nastiness, also called assholeness. We’ll go from the let’s-grab-a-cerveza-after-the-match tactic of using more control and less power to the friends-losing-points-winning strategy of aiming at the opponents’ heads. So keep in mind you may lose a friend or two using these tips. Fun times!
#10 Less power is more control
Your shots will be more precise if you use less power when hitting the ball. Players who use too much power make unforced errors and lose points even against less skilled opponents.
It’s also very hard to win a padel match with power shots. You’ll get exhausted and make more mistakes, potentially losing the match.
If you want to wear down your opponents, the best way to do so is run them back and forth all over the pitch with precise shots, lobs, chiquitas… We’ll take a look at the chiquita in a moment and also discuss how to execute the perfect smash — no one expects you not to take advantage of a worn-down opponent with a satisfying full-power smash that will blow your opponents’ self-esteem to kingdom come.
The top player smashed the ball with lots of force, but little control, hitting the back wall and losing a point. On the other hand, the bottom player played it easy and controlled with a chiquita and forced the opponent into defense by running to the net. This is a great way to wear down your opponents.
Communicate with your teammate to help them understand your intentions and the environment around them.
If your teammate is playing off the back wall and facing away from the court, let them know where the opponents are, such as net and back so that they can play the ball more precisely.
When the ball is played between you and your teammate, shout out who will hit the ball, such as you or me.
Remember, there’s never too much communication, especially between the doubles that don’t play together very often.
Let your teammate know what’s going on behind their back. When saving a ball by bouncing it off the glass, your teammate will be facing away from the court and have little to no understanding of what’s going on. Help them out by shouting where the opponents are; in this case, they’re at the net, so the player was able to lob the ball off the glass and behind the opponents, slowing down the game and getting a chance to gain the upper hand.
Letting each other know your intentions will save you a lot of lost points. Simply shout you or me.
#8 Move back and forth together
Move as a pair and play either at the net or at the back together. If one player stays at the net and the other at the back, the ball will most certainly be played to the player at the back. The opponents will come forward, leaving the player at the net alone and vulnerable — most likely playing the ball directly at them, reducing their time to react. We’ll see how that’s done later.
Move backward and forward on the pitch together, and never leave your teammate alone. Try to get to the net and play from there — we’ll learn about that in a moment.
#7 Be patient when smashing
Be patient and play smashes only on light balls. As we’ve learned before, power should be used sparingly. Obviously, when you have a good opportunity for a smash, you should take it.
But when no clear smash opportunity exists, be patient and play with precision, not power — your could end up being forced into a defensive position, or making a mistake losing you a point.
As Goethe once said, “Slap that hoe with all you’ve got, but only when you’re sure it will not end in tears.” Make sure you’re close to the net and smash the ball so that it either flies out of the pitch or bounces off the glass high enough the opponents can’t hit it.
Never smash the ball from mid-pitch or the back. This will give your opponents plenty of time to return the ball. In the example above, the opponent finished with a chiquita, forcing the player into a defensive.
#6 Play from the net
One of the critical strategies in padel is to take the net. From there, you can finish the point with more force and more precision. In padel, scoring a point from the back of the court is extremely hard, so always remember to take the net.
But do not rush to the net from any position — only get to the net after you lob over your opponents, buying time, or you see that opponents are not at the net.
A padel match is won from the net, not from the back like tennis.
#5 How to take the net
You can take the net by lobbing over the opponents when they’re at the net or with a low ball down to their feet, which is called a chiqiuta.
The best way to score a juicy chiquita is when the opponents are at the net — play a slow ball from the back of the court down to their feet, so they are forced to play the ball upwards and give you a chance to attack.
A well-executed chiquita will surely cause agitation in your opponents. The only thing better than a good chiquita is a series of good chiquitas, which results in a series of agitations — wholesome fun. Make sure you’re recording the match with PadelCourt and share your masterful chiquita series on your favorite social media for everyone to gloat.
Only hit a chiquita on a ball that you can hit in front of your body. The typical chiquita would be from the back of the court on a ball that hits the back glass that you can “push” forward in front of the feet of your opponents.
Force the opponents into what you want them to do. Play padel as an extremely fast chess game and plan at least a couple of moves ahead.
Push opponents back into the defensive and take the net for yourself. When playing offensive, think several moves ahead and push the opposition from where they can’t win.
#4 Serve, then charge to the net
Remember, the first objective in padel is to take the net because you can finish the point from there much more efficiently and with more control.
As soon as you hit the serve, run to the net and stand your ground as long as possible. Try to score the point immediately at the return.
#3 Always push the opponents into defense
Watch the opponent’s position and hit the ball accordingly. If one player is at the back, play the ball at them and run forward. If they’ve left a gap at the net, play the ball in that gap. If one opponent is too close to the net, lob over them.
If both opponents are at the net, simply lob over them, and you and your teammate charge to the net. The slower and higher the lob, the longer you’ll have to position yourself at the net. High lobs also help get your opponents’ eyes away from you, resulting in their confusion about who’s where.
#2 Aim directly at the opponent
It’s time to lose a friend.
You know that guy who’s building that log cabin three hours drive up the sticks and bugs you to help them build it every time you bump into them and keeps asking how to recompense as you fight mosquitos with one hand and 5-inch nails with the other hammering them down in those damn logs like they’re your high school embarrassments you wanted to suppress and forget all your life with not much success and like you’ve got nothing better to do and they should be spending time with their family I mean you can smell the divorce from just around the corner poor kids and who’s going to take care of the dogs well now you can tell them the best way to recompense for all the work you’ve done on the log cabin would be to play some padel so you can put these tactics to good use and they can bugger somebody else so you can keep your weekends to yourself and better the humanity now how’s that for a combo. [inhales]
Pick a single opponent — exempli gratia the friend you want to get off your back — and attack them by playing all balls directly at them. This will create enough pressure they’ll be likely to make mistakes. Keep the pressure on, pick on that sucker and wear them down. Once they’re exhausted, don’t let go. Keep the pressure on that player. Shih Tzu would be proud of you. Or was it Sun Tzu?
Wear that sucker down like there’s no tomorrow by aiming all balls at them. Once they’re out of breath and feeling insulted, aim for the other one.
#01 It’s headshot o’clock!
Sometimes it’s necessary to go nucular. Maybe the friend is not getting the message, or they’re simply too good at padel.
In that case, you should aim for the head. Yes, the coveted headshot. If the opponents are at the net, playing a high ball aimed at their head is an excellent option, guaranteed to cause a broad and varied spectrum of outcomes — all good and all fun to watch. As you can imagine, it is hard to defend and play the ball back in any offensive way from that position. What joy!
Again, as we’ve discussed above, opt for precision over power. Heads are hard to aim at, especially if they’re small. Also, as with all headshots, this is a risky tactic as the opponent can dodge the ball, and — if you’re playing with force instead of precision — it may hit the glass, resulting in an out and a lost point.
If you’ve ever played a FPS game, you’ll understand the concept.
So there you have it. Try and practice these as much as you can. And remember, you can always get new friends, but you can never un-lose a padel match.
Stay tuned for more relationship-testing padel strategies only at PadelCourt.