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What's the Difference between Padel, Tennis and Paddle Tennis?

What's the Difference between Padel, Tennis and Paddle Tennis?

Padel has become increasingly popular in recent years, and new padel courts are springing up regularly all over Europe. With this new sport also comes questions and misunderstandings about the name of padel and its related sports. In this post, you can learn what to call your new favourite sport, and you can learn about the differences between padel, paddle tennis and tennis.

Is it called padel or paddle tennis?

At first glance, padel and paddle tennis sound like two sides of the same coin. After all, the names alone both contain padel, so they're just two different names for the same sport, right? The answer to that question is actually no. The version of the sport that we know from Spain and South America in particular, and which is now growing rapidly, is actually just called padel. Paddle tennis is an American sport with roots in New York, but it is not the sport that a series of European, Middle Eastern and African countries have really taken up in recent years.

What is the difference between padel and paddle tennis?

Paddle tennis differs from padel mainly in that it is played with a thinner racket and softer balls. Padel was invented in the 1960s by the Mexican businessman Enrique Corcuera. You can read more about the origins of padel in this article. Inspired by squash and platform tennis, he built a padel court in his holiday home in Acapulco, and Enrique Corcuera is considered by many to be the man who invented padel. Today, far more people play padel than padel tennis, and padel in general is seen as a sport rapidly on the rise.

POP Tennis - what is this?

Perhaps you have encountered the term POP tennis? This is actually the same as paddle tennis. This name change occured as promoters of the sport wanted the name associated with the sound of the ball hitting the paddle, hence the pop. POP Tennis was created in 1898 in the USA by Reverend Frank Beal in Albion, Michigan. Paddle Tennis led directly to the creation of Platform Tennis in the 1920’s which in turn led to the start of Padel in the 1960’s in Mexico. Today, POP tennis has close to 2 million players worldwide. 

How many people play padel?

According to the International Padel Federation, in 2022 there were over 25 million padel players worldwide. The distribution between men and women is estimated to be rather equal, and padel is played across different age groups, genders and backgrounds. In Spain alone, there are over 20,000 padel courts and more than 6 million active padel players. As a result, padel has become the second most popular sport, second only to football, in this sport-loving country, which many Swedes also like to visit to enjoy the climate and take padel lessons.

Similarities and differences between tennis and padel tennis

In the wake of the confusion between padel and padel tennis, many new to the sport are also wondering what the difference actually is between tennis and padel. Indeed, the two games are related in that they are racket sports, and the same scoring system is used in padel and tennis. In addition, the balls are rather similar and the shape of the court, net and service areas are also familiar.

However, there are also significant differences between tennis and padel. Factors such as court size, lines/walls and equipment make padel easier to play than tennis. As a beginner, it is easier to get longer rallies going in padel, as it is easier for the majority to control their strokes in padel than in tennis. In addition, the side and back walls of the padel court also mean that more people experience a "second chance" to return their opponents' shots. If you're new to the sport, we've created a padel glossary where you can learn about the many terms and words used in padel. Below we have compiled the main differences between padel and tennis.Below, we have summarised the main differences between padel and tennis.

Size of the court

One of the main differences between padel and tennis is the size of the courts. Tennis courts are larger than padel courts, with a standard tennis court measuring 23.77 metres in length by 10.97 metres in width (in doubles).

Example of a standard clay court in tennis:

Padel courts are 20 metres by 10 metres for a standard doubles court.

Example of a standard doubles court in padel:

A single court in padel measures 20 metres in length and 6 metres in width.

Example of a standard singles court in padel:

Glass walls and fence

While a tennis court is simply bordered by court lines, the padel court is surrounded by walls that help keep the ball in play while opening up the use of different angles and tactics. Originally, the walls around the padel court were introduced to prevent the ball from going too far when a raly was being decided. But the walls also helped make balls easier to return and rallies longer.

The padel court is thus surrounded by 3 metre high glass walls, while the back walls are 4 metres high, as there is an additional 1 metre of metallic fencing.

Equipment: Padel rackets vs tennis rackets

Another major difference between the two sports is the type of "impact weapon" used. In tennis, players use a longer racket with strings, while in padel they play with rackets made of carbon or fibreglass and without strings. This difference in racket, together with a slightly softer ball, makes it easier to control and return strokes in padel, which is why you see longer rallies in padel.

If you're considering to buy a new padel racket but don't know what to choose, you can read much more about this in our in-depth guide to padel rackets. Alternatively, head straight to our large selection of padel rackets.

Court surface

Just as tennis has different court surfaces such as clay, grass and hardcourt, padel also operates on different surfaces. Thus, padel courts are available with different types of surfaces such as artificial grass (including different types of artificial turf), synthetic materials, cement and concrete. Different types of artificial grass are the most common, with either sand underneath or visible on top.

On indoor padel courts, a common surface is the so-called mondo turf. Many padel halls have the well-known blue grass mats with sand underneath. The sand of the padel court has a stabilising function on the surface and contributes to the durability of the court.

Padel shoes to match the court surface

The structure of the artificial grass surface puts demands on the shoes you play padel in. It is important that you get an optimal grip on the court so that you can stand firmly and make quick changes of direction, take-offs and split steps. To find out more about what to look out for in padel footwear, read our complete guide to padel shoes. If you're looking for a new pair of padel shoes, check out our wide range of padel shoes here.

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