It’s almost like dancing
In October 2016, I was asked to start writing a blog on Swedish website padelfeber.se. Padelfeber, meaning padel fever in English, is exactly what's going on up here in Sweden. I gladly accepted and have enjoyed these past months logging my experiences and passion for this new sport. However, as an American, with Filipino heritage, living in Europe, I’d like to consider myself a global being and can’t help but want to share with even more padel fanatics. So, here goes my first entry in English. I hope you like it.
My Evolution from Tennis to Padel Player
Let's rewind back to January 2014, when I first stepped onto that cute little padel court. It only took about five minutes for me to get completely hooked. I thought, “It’s doubles on a mini court!” Growing up as a competitive tennis player, I always seemed to enjoy doubles much more than singles - I liked the dynamics and team work behind it. During my years on the high school and college team, I learned that doubles matches were just as important as singles, since the doubles matches were always played last which meant that they could be deciding for the whole team match. So, I’ve had my share of volleys, working with a partner and also playing under pressure — making it all the more easy for me to fall in love with padel.
However, most of us know that padel is not just mini tennis and there are a great deal of differences between these two sports. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way. I like to refer to the first phase of my still very young padel career as the GRIP-IT-AND-RIP-IT period. It came so natural to me to use my big loopy tennis swings and hit every shot as hard as I could. How I loved the sound… Smack. Smack. Smack! You could say I was trigger-happy and was having fun playing mini tennis but gradually I started to wonder why all the balls kept coming back at me even though I was hitting so many of these “great” shots. #eyeroll
The next period I’d like to refer to as the PUSHER phase. I started to learn that I needed to calm down and keep it nice and easy. I said to myself, "Just get it in — that’s the key!" Problem was I hardly dared to hit the ball because I wanted to avoid any unforced errors and everything landed softly and pretty much in the middle of the service box. I remember someone asking me after a match, “What’s happened?! You usually have that extra oomph.” #hewasthinkingwhatawimpyouvebecome
Now, I’m into a so-called third phase and although I still have my trigger-happy moments and send volleys straight into the middle of the back wall at times, I’m slowly finding that balance between hard and soft, deep and short, straight and angled. Let’s call it the BALANCE phase. I haven’t yet mastered this phase but I’m working on it. Hopefully, I can soon graduate and move onto the ZONE phase where I know exactly which shot to hit and when, without even thinking. #dreamon
Here’s a basic list of tips when converting from tennis to padel. #shoutouttoyoutennisplayers #swedishpadelneedsmoreofyou
The walls and the size of the court effect your footwork. Instead of lunging around like in tennis, use smaller steps especially when using the walls. It’s almost like dancing especially since spinning in the corners are necessary in padel.
TIP 1. You have to dance with the ball. Sometimes you take the lead, sometimes the ball does.
Small racket, small court, small steps >>> smaller swing. Use a more compact swing especially when using the walls since you may not have as much room and there are many angles and spins to adjust to. Using a big swing will only complicate timing and direction.
TIP 2. Keep it compact.
If you get passed or lobbed, don’t worry, you usually have another chance to reach the ball either by letting the ball bounce off the wall and/or boosting the ball off your wall.
TIP 3. Remember the walls are your friends.
Hitting hard can be useful but since there are walls in the game, high pace is not always the right choice. Not only do you want to keep your opponents from easily anticipating hard shots that give a lot of bounce from the wall, you also force your opponents to create their own pace from softer shots.
TIP 4. Mix up the pace #stiritup #bobmarley
The list can go on and on but I'll spare you too many details and conclude with one last tip. Points should last much longer in padel than in tennis. Dare to have patience and set up the point for you and your partner before diving in for the kill.
TIP 5. Think 50 shades of patience #alotofit