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How to start your Padel Tennis Career/Adventure pain-free
Padel Tennis, Paddle Tennis or Platform Tennis… or ‘Squash in the Sun’, has come a long way since 1993 when it was first recognised as a sport in Spain, the number of clubs and licenses have increased by over 300% (Jiménez-Naranjo, Coca-Pérez et al. 2016).
It’s popularity in Australia is increasing however it’s in Europe where the biggest Padel buzz is. It is the 2nd largest participation sport in Spain (after Football). A sports within an enclosure, it looks like a crossbred Tennis/UFC sport with only a net stopping players from executing a choke hold!
To see how Padel Tennis is played, check out this video:
It’s a fast game…..
Padel Tennis is a fast game. The work/rest ratio in Tennis is 1:2, at the top level the average point length is 10seconds with 20seconds rest between points. In Padel the work/rest ratio is 1:1 (Carrasco, Romero et al. 2011).
But you won’t often see a rally this long:
It’s a fast game…..…won at the net….
On the professional Padel Tour, being dominant at the net is key.
Direct shots (hitting the ball before it bounces on the floor or wall) account for 70% of all shots, 25.5% of which are volleys (Courel-Ibáñez, Sánchez-Alcaraz et al. 2014) (Priego Quesada, Olaso Melis et al. 2013).
Data from the 2013 Masters Finals World Padel Tour found that 6 out of 10 rallies are finished at the net and points scored at the net account for 80% of all points (Courel-Ibáñez, Sánchez-Alcaraz et al. 2015), which is why tactically players will approach the net when possible.
It’s a fast game…..…won at the net….…with heavy racquets….
Professional players prefer very rigid racquets, which also reduces the damping at ball impact (Overney, Michaud et al. 2010). This comes at a cost, as it increases the weight of the racquet.
The Padel Racquet weighs 20–30% more than a standard Tennis Racquet (360–390gm+ vs 300gm). This quick change in both heavier racquet and upper limb dominance in the stroke may result in upper limb overuse injuries such as Padel Elbow (…tennis elbow) and wrist instability injuries (eg: TFCC tear).
It’s a fast game…..…won at the net….…with heavy racquets…....which can cause some niggles.
For a new player to the game, it will take some adjustment. Due to the fast pace of the game, the increased racquet weight and the obvious tactical advantage of the direct shot (eg: volley) over the indirect shot, there is less time to generate power from the lower limbs, requiring more trunk and upper limbs involvement in power generation and ‘racquet-head speed’.
Overuse/overload injuries are often the easiest injury to prevent, the most common overuse injury in Padel Tennis is at the elbow in senior players and the lower back in junior players (Castillo-Lozano and Casuso-Holgado 2015). Whereas, knee injuries are the most common acute injury, which isn’t surprising given that the majority of movements for the lower limbs are lateral and pivoting (Priego Quesada, Olaso Melis et al. 2013).
See if the above data matches up in these great Padel moments below:
The injury prevention recommendation therefore is…
Get sport-specific fitness. Both cardiovascular fitness (eg: intervals or work/rest ratio fitness, 1:1) and musculoskeletal fitness (strength, mobility, stability).
We know that cardiovascular fitness improves faster for a given activity before your musculoskeletal system (tendon, bone, muscle etc) has adapted for that activity, so get in the gym and improve your upper limb, trunk and core strength and stability in order to reduce the likelihood of upper limb injury.
To reduce the incidence of acute change-direction knee injuries, incorporate traditional lower limb strengthening, particularly hip strength (eg: squats, deadlifts) with single leg plyometric exercises for dynamic control. See the Santa Monica PEP program for a good ACL injury prevention program (http://smsmf.org/smsf-programs/pep-program)(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Lag8uNU6AQ).
Begin your Padel career with a lighter racquet, this will allow a gradual exposure to the stability and strength require for the game. Gradually increase the racquet weight and stiffness by approx. 10% every 2–3months.
Manage your load! Gradually increase your playing volume (sessions/week) over 3–6months to allow for musculoskeletal adaptation. (see https://medium.com/@TheTennisPhysio/the-brief-autobiography-of-a-high-loader-an-n-1-accidental-experiment-in-load-management-fa06605d86e5#.uybostble) for when load management goes wrong).
· Padel Tennis Rules: https://www.paddlepro.com/rules/index.shtml
· Craigh O’Shannessy, Stats Man: https://www.braingametennis.com/craig-oshannessy/
· Australian Padel Federation page for more information: http://www.padelaus.com.au/rules-rapid-padel-growth
- How to choose a Padel racquet: http://www.padelcentrum.nl/en/hoe-kies-je-een-padel-racket/
Carrasco, L., et al. (2011). “Game analysis and energy requirements of paddle tennis competition.” Science & Sports 26(6): 338–344.
Castillo-Lozano, R. and M. Casuso-Holgado (2015). “A comparison musculoskeletal injuries among junior and senior paddle-tennis players.” Science & Sports 30(5): 268–274.
Courel-Ibáñez, J., et al. (2014). “Performance differences between winning and losing padel players regarding serve situation.”
Courel-Ibáñez, J., et al. (2015). “Effectiveness at the net as a predictor of final match outcome in professional padel players.” International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport 15(2): 632–640.
Jiménez-Naranjo, H. V., et al. (2016). “Determinants of the expenditure done by attendees at a sporting event: The case of World Padel Tour.” European Journal of Management and Business Economics.
Overney, L., et al. (2010). “Carbon outclasses wood in racket paddles: Ratings of expert and intermediate tennis players.” Journal of sports sciences 28(13): 1451–1458.
Priego Quesada, J. I., et al. (2013). “Padel: A Quantitative study of the shots and movements in the high-performance.” Journal of human sport and exercise, 2013, vol. 8, num. 4, p. 925–931.
Nick Ilic (The Tennis Physio) is available for tennis-specific physiotherapy in-services on tennis courts in ACT and Sydney, the best way to learn how to hurt yourself in tennis is to hit balls, poorly!
Outside Canberra, Australia but want a consult with Nick? Nick does online domestic and international consults via Skype. Get in touch with Nick to find out how.