The sport of padel comes with a lot of new terms that you need to get to know. That's why we've created a padel dictionary where we explain the terms in padel. In the dictionary you will find the strokes in padel, the components of the court and tournament formats such as Americano and Mexicano. To top it off, we have also spiced up the glossary with various slang expressions from the world of padel. In other words, we're equipping you to build the ultimate padel vocabulary - not because you have to memorize all the terms - you can simply look them up in this glossary and use it as your padel encyclopedia when there's a term you haven't come across before.
The sport of padel originates from Mexico and has its epicenter in Spain, which is why there are many Spanish terms in padel. In many cases, we have kept the Spanish terms in the padel glossary, as they will often be used instead of a translation into English. In addition, people with a background in tennis will recognize many of the terms, as several of the names of the padel strokes and the scoring system are also used in tennis.
All: This indicates that the score in a game is even. For example, as in tennis, the score might be "30 all".
Americano: Popular tournament format in padel consisting of several rounds where you change partner and opponents each round so that everyone plays against everyone. In the end, the total score is added up for each player. The winner is the player who has earned the most points throughout the rounds. The Americano is used by many padel players and clubs as a social tournament where you can play against new opponents and expand your network in the sport. See also Mexicano, another popular tournament format in padel.
Backspin: When you 'cut' the ball by adding spin and giving it a low bounce.
Backhand: A shot that is hit from the opposite side of your dominant side. For example, if you are right-handed and hit the ball from your left side, which requires you to move your hitting arm across your body to the other side. Most players find it more difficult to hit backhand than forehand.
Bajada: From the Spanish term "to bring down" comes this attacking shot, where the player from the back of the court hits the ball up from a high contact point and downwards.
Bandeja: One of the most commonly used shots in padel. It's a defensive overhead shot often used with backspin, where you try to maintain your position at the net and force your opponents to the back of the court. Comes from the Spanish word for "tray" and refers to the angle at which you hold the racket when hitting the ball, reminiscent of a waiter serving food on a tray in a restaurant.
Block: Defensive shot typically used by the player at the net to return a hard shot to the body.
Boast: When you hit the ball to the other side of the net using the glass. Hitting the ball into the glass on the back wall on your own side is a defensive shot and typically a last resort to try to lob the ball over the opponents. The glass on the side walls is used by some as a variation in the game to surprise the opponents with a different angle.
Break: Break of serve. When the serving pair loses the game.
Carbonfibres: Due to its low weight and high durability, this material is often used in the production of the frame and surface of the padel racket.
Chancletazo: Aggressive forehand stroke where a player at the net hits hard and flat to decide the rally.
Chiquita: Means "little one" in Spanish and is a soft shot from the back of the court that dives and lands at the feet of the opponents.
Continental grip: The standard grip when holding the padel racket, which can be used in most strokes. Similar to holding a hammer.
Contrapared: Defensive shot where you return the ball via the back wall as a last resort.
Cuchilla: The Spanish word for "knife blade", referring to an aggressive form of bajada from the back wall, where you apply side spin in the stroke.
Deuce: When the score in a game is 40-40. Depending on the scoring system, you can play Golden Point (the next point wins the game), or you can continue as in tennis, where you have to win the game by two points.
Double Fault: When the server misses both the first and second serve, so the opponents win the point.
Dormiloña: A drop shot where the opponents have hit the ball into the back wall glass and the ball bounces all the way back to the net, where the receiving pair tries to end the rally with a sliced drop shot.
Doble pared que abre: When the ball first hits the side wall and then the back wall before being returned.
Doble pared que cierra: When the ball first hits the back wall and then the side wall before being returned.
Doble toque: Double hit where the ball hits the surface of the racket twice in the same motion.
Dobles paredes: When the ball hits two walls before being returned.
Drop in: Social tournament format where you can show up without a partner and be paired with other attendees.
Drop shot: A short and low shot whose purpose is to bounce twice before the opponent reaches it. Drop Shot is also the name of a padel brand.
EVA: Type of foam with a high absorbency used in the core of the padel racket. Harder than the Foam variant. EVA stands for "Ethylene vinyl acetate".
Foam: Type of foam most commonly used in the core of the softer padel rackets. Foam is softer than EVA foam.
Forehand: A shot that is hit from your dominant side. For example, if you are right-handed and hit the ball from your right side. Most players find it easier to hit forehand than backhand.
Frame: Constitutes the head of the padel racket and is made of glass fiber, carbon fiber or a combination of them. You can learn more about the topic in our ultimate guide for padel rackets.
Freezer: A strategy where a pair hits as many balls as possible to the same player in the opposing pair. This can exhaust the person being played on and frustrate the partner, who gets no shots to work with.
Fuera/Fuera de pista: When a player retrieves the ball outside the court, it is commonly called "fuera" or "fuera de pista" in Spanish.
Game patterns: The players' use and composition of different strokes to build up the rally and eventually win it. The concept is used by both players and coaches to adjust tactics and improve shot selection and decision-making during a match.
Gancho: Defensive overhead shot often used to regain position at the net. The shot is similar to a bandeja, but is hit without spin and is hit higher up on the face of the racket. Comes from the Spanish word for "hook".
Fence: The metal grid that, together with the glass walls, surrounds the padel court.
Fibreglass: Flexible and lightweight material that can be used in the surface of the padel racket. Can also be used in combination with carbon fiber which is harder.
Globo: Means "lob" in Spanish. Defensive shot where you hit the ball in a soft curve over the opponents to force them away from the net.
Golden point: At a score of 40-40 in a game, the winner of the next point takes the game. That is, next point decides the game and you do not have to win by two points. Golden point was introduced in 2022 in WPT tournaments to shorten the duration of a match.
Half volley: Defensive type of shot where the ball bounces right in front of you before you hit it. Often seen when a player is approaching the net.
Handle: The shaft of the padel racket that you hold on to.
Kick smash: A topspin smash whose purpose can be either for the ball to bounce over the fence, or for the ball to go back over the net to the attacking team's half of the court.
Let: When the point is replayed. This situation most often occurs when a serve hits the top of the net and otherwise bounces correctly in the service box. A let can also be called in situations where the ball hits close to a line and cannot be clearly called in or out. Similarly, a let may be called if a ball from an adjacent court lands on the court or if errors arise in the players' or court's equipment.
Lob: A commonly used shot in padel where you hit the ball over your opponents. The lob can be high to give yourself time to get into position, and it can be flatter to put pressure on your opponents and give them less time to prepare the shot. See also Globo.
Love: A scoring system term used when one or both pairs have 0 points. For example, if the score in a game is 15-0, you can say "Fifteen love".
Maneuverability: Used in padel to describe a characteristic of the racket. The maneuverability of a racket is closely related to the weight of the racket and how the weight is distributed. If the weight is placed high up in the head of the racket, also known as a head-heavy balance, it becomes less maneuverable but offers more power. If the weight is distributed lower in the head, also known as a head-light balance, the racket becomes increasingly maneuverable but loses some power.
Mexicano: In the same vein as an Americano, the Mexicano is a social tournament format. A Mexicano can be played in different ways. Some prefer to run it with shifting partners after each round like in an Americano, while others run with fixed pairs of partners throughout the tournament. Otherwise, Mexicano differs from Americano in that Mexicano uses a dynamic scoring system where you are paired with other pairs who have scored roughly the same number of points as you to ensure the most equal match-ups.
Mondo: The official supplier of artificial grass for the World Padel Tour. Many padel courts have the characteristic blue Mondo Supercourt artificial grass, which provides a high level of performance and a uniform surface on the padel court.
Overgrip: Often used as an add-on to the standard grip of the racket. As the name suggests, the overgrip is placed on top of the standard grip. An overgrip is available in different thicknesses and feelings, so you can customize the grip of the padel racket to your preferences and get the best possible contact with the racket handle. You can read much more about grips for your padel racket in this guide.
Overhead: A group of strokes often used when an opponent lobs. Examples of overheads are shots like bandeja and vibora.
Pala: The Spanish word for "shovel". Another word for racket.
Paddle tennis: A related sport to padel, but not the same sport. Paddle tennis is an American racket/paddle sport. You can read about the difference between padel and paddle tennis here.
Passing shot: When you hit the ball flat past the opponent at the net out of their reach.
Plano: The term refers to a type of stroke that is hit with the face of the racket parallel to the ground. The word "plano" itself translates to "flat" in English, indicating the nature of the stroke.
The shot is typically executed by hitting the ball right after its bounce, resulting in a low trajectory. It is often used when the ball is at waist height or lower. The purpose of the plano shot is to keep the ball low and close to the net, making it difficult for the opponent to return.
Por cuatro: Means "For four" in Spanish and refers to a smash that is hit out of the court above the 4-meter wall.
Por tres: Means "For three" in Spanish and refers to a smash that is hit out of the court above the 3-meter wall.
Rebote: Spanish for rebound. The expression is used when the ball hits the wall or grid on the court.
Remate: The Spanish word for "to finish". Typically refers to a smash.
Reves: Spanish for backhand. Refers to the left side of the padel court.
Rulo: Overhead shot with topspin typically hit over the shoulder of the dominant side.
Shaft: The handle of the padel racket.
Shot selection: This term is used to describe a player's ability to assess the game and choose the right shot in different situations.
Slice: A shot where you "cut" the ball to give it backspin so it bounces low. Often used in volleys to the back of the court to put the opponents under pressure.
Smash: Attacking and hard overhead shot whose purpose is to decide the point. A smash can be hit in different variations with topspin or with a more clean hit on the ball.
Super tiebreak: Tiebreak played to 10 instead of 7.
Sweetspot: The area of the racket where you achieve the greatest power transfer in your stroke. If you hit the ball outside the sweetspot, you get less power transfer and more vibrations. The sweetspot of the padel racket is mainly determined by the head shape and hardness of the padel racket.
Tiebreak: Scoring system used to decide the set if the score is 6-6 in games. A tiebreak is played to 7 points and must be won by 2 points. I.e. if the score in the tiebreak reaches 6-6 in points, it is played to 8, if the score reaches 7-7, it is played to 9 and so on.
Topspin: When you add spin to the shot so that the ball bounces forward. In tennis, topspin is used more often than in padel, where it is either used in smashes or to make the ball's trajectory drop quickly once it has reached the net.
Tweener: When you hit the shot between your legs, which will almost always make it a defensive shot.
Vibora: Overhead shot that is more aggressive than a bandeja. The shot is aimed at gaining the position at the net. A vibora is hit with spin so the ball bounces off the glass at a difficult angle. The stroke is often used diagonally and aims to end up at the opponent's feet to make it as difficult as possible to defend against. Vibora means "viper" in Spanish.
Volée: A volley. When you take the ball before it hits the ground/grass. Typically, the volley is an offensive shot when you have approached the net.
Volley lob: The shot is typically used instead of a normal volley at the net or in the transition zone. This is a volley where you adjust the angle of the racket to lob the ball over the opponents.