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What is padel + 10 best courts in the UK

padel
10 best padel tennis courts in the UKJose Ignacio Martin Del Barco - Getty Images


Padel tennis is officially the fastest growing sport in the world. According to Padel United UK, it's now played by over 12 million people across the globe, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Serena Williams loves a game of padel, as does David Beckham, and an average of 12k of you search for advice on padel tennis every month.

So, for anyone interested in trying something new (or just curious why every man and his dog is talking about it), we caught up with Anka Mandleson, co-founder of the only dedicated padel club in London Stratford Padel Club, to serve up everything you need to know about the sport, from where and how to play, to the benefits and best padel rackets. Game, set, match.

What is padel tennis?

‘Padel is an incredibly social racquet sports,’ Anka tells Women’s Health. ‘It combines some of the best aspects of tennis and squash. The court is smaller than a tennis court, it is always played in doubles (as a group of four), but the court has glass back and side walls and a fence, allowing the players to engage in far longer rallies than in tennis. It relies more on tactics than strength and power, making it far easier than tennis for men and women to play matches together.’

What is the difference between tennis and padel tennis?

There are a few differences between tennis and padel tennis, according to Anka:

  • A padel court is smaller

  • Padel is played in doubles

  • A padel court has glass back and side walls

Are padel tennis and tennis balls the same?

A tennis ball has a diameter of between 6.54cm and 6.86cm. A padel tennis ball, meanwhile, has a diameter between 6.35cm and 6.77cm.

Where to play padel tennis: 10 best padel courts in the UK

If you are one of the people searching 'padel tennis near me', you'll be pleased to hear that as well as the unique Stratford Padel Club, there are plenty of other padel courts both in London and in the UK:

Padel courts in London

1. Padium, Canary Wharf

London's premium indoor padel club Padium offers state-of-the-art facilities, including seven indoor courts and one outdoor court, which, enclosed in a canopy, gives off an interior impression. You can also expect gamecam technology, a bar, and open tournaments and leagues.

Cost: £80 per hour (£20 per player). For gamecam technology, price for centre-court is £100 per hour (£25 per player). Reservations open seven days in advance for non-members and 14 days in advance for members.

2. The Padel Yard, Wandsworth

'Embrace the electric atmosphere that permeates our establishment,' the website reads. Expect a 'cool and fun' space, where a playing experience serves up not just a game of padel on state-of-the-art courts with expert instructors, but memorable moments where you can forge new friendships and relax once the game's over with craft beers or smoothies.

Cost: £50 per court

3. Park Sports - Regent's Park

Park Sports makes sports facilities readily available in many of London's beautiful parks. Book one of two outdoor padel courts in Regent's Park up to seven days in advance to 'pay and play'. Park Sports works with highly experienced professional LTA-qualified padel coaches who can help you develop your technique one on one, or in a small group.

Cost: Around £25 - £38 per court

4. Stratford Padel Club

The UK's largest padel club is home to nine indoor courts and a lively community of over 20,000 players ranging from beginners to professionals. Opening its doors in 2018 with just three courts and 30 players, its expansion is a testament to the lasting connections built while sharing a court (or drink!).

Cost: Peak-time costs range from £9 (one-hour match) - £72 (two-hour court); £60 for private one-hour class

Northern England

5. Huddersfield Padel Club, Yorkshire

Huddersfield Lawn Tennis and Squash Club introduced padel tennis to the UK in 2011 by launching Ellesse Padel Academy. Experience their all-weather-canopy-covered, two-court facility for a great social game.

Cost: As little as £4 an hour for non-members; as little as £2 an hour for members (super off-peak rate).

6. Middlesborough Padel Club: Tennis World, Middlesborough, North Yorkshire

Middlesborough Padel Club offers covered, floodlit courts. Take your racket out for a swing on one of the two first-class Padel Tech Redsport courts, available after the club's staggering £400,000 upgrade. All abilities welcome and coaching available.

Cost: £18 per court per hour; £12 per hour for singles

Southern England

7. The Triangle: Burgess Hill, West Sussex

The Triangle is an outdoor padel court constructed in the style of a panoramic court that uses 3m-thick glass and an adjustable roof.

Cost: Non-members £14.70 per court (£8.40 concession); free for premium members

8. The West Hants Club: Bournemouth, Hampshire

Established in 2018, this padel court is for members only, so you'll need to sign up before you can play, and the court can be booked up to one week in advance. You'll join a friendly group of tennis and padel players here.

Cost: Full membership options available on the website

9. Manchester Padel Club

Greater Manchester's first pay-and-play padel club is located in South Manchester Sports Club. Train on this stunning show court with world-class padel players and coaches on the ElitePadel coaching programmes.

Cost: £18 for half a hour, bookable in one- or two-hour slots. Bookings restricted to three hours per week per person.

Midlands

10. Nottingham Padel Centre

The four hugely popular state-of-the-art padel courts, fit for all weather conditions, are close to the city centre. Coach Hugo Da Silva offers basic tuition and more advanced techniques. You can also sign up to Saturday mix-in sessions, mid-week morning and lunch clubs, and tournaments.

Cost: £15 for off peak; £20 for peak hours

Where does padel tennis come from?

Anka explains: ‘Padel originated in the 60s in Mexico, it has gained incredible prominence in South America and Spain, with Argentina and Spain dominating the sport in World Cup and at World Padel Tour level.’

In fact, padel was invented by a man named Enrique Corcuera in 1969 in Mexico. It is now officially recognised as a discipline of tennis in Britain.

padel tennis
JackF

Why is padel so popular now?

According to the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), around 90,000 people in Britain play padel on an annual basis. So big is the uptick in people playing padel, that LTA predicts there will be around 400 courts nationwide by the end of this year (there were roughly 250 in December 2022). So, what’s causing the increase in popularity?

For starters, it’s an accessible sport – due to the shape of the racket and game rules, there’s less of a need for technical skill when you’re playing for fun, so anyone can take to a court – no experience necessary. Then, there’s the fact it’s the sport-to-be-seen-doing on social media this year – fitness influencers in their masses are picking up a racket and learning to play padel.

Another big draw of padel is its social aspect. Post-pandemic, there remains a drive to connect with others as we collectively try to make up for time missed together when we were under government-imposed social restrictions. This means that social activities and sports, such as padel, have become even more popular in recent years.

How to play padel tennis

‘The sport is played in doubles, on a court similar to a tennis court, but 25% smaller, and with glass walls that are used for ball rebound. The ball is similar to a tennis ball, but with less pressure and the bats have a shorter handle and no strings,’ Anka says.

What are the padel tennis rules?

It is scored in sets of six games, with two games difference – or a tiebreaker if the game is split. Best of three sets wins the match. Anka adds, ‘The serve is always underarm.’

Benefits of playing padel

Besides the fact that it’s easier than tennis, there are plenty of health rewards to be reaped:

  • It improves cardiovascular fitness

  • It helps build core, glute and leg strength

  • It improves balance

  • It improves coordination

  • It improves mental focus

  • It helps ‘delay mental ageing as it requires constant concentration and change of tactics’

  • It's a great form of social interaction

According to Anka, ‘The social aspect of padel is what makes it stand out. At Stratford Padel Club, the sense of community is built by bringing four players who don’t know each other on court. They then end up being friends, having a beer and some food after the match, playing some more, joining tournaments, and essentially obsessing about the sport. This is what makes the sport so special, and explains its incredibly rapid growth worldwide.’

Who can play padel tennis?

‘Padel is suitable to all ages, and all genders. We have players as young as three years old, and some over 75s,’ Anka says. ‘Padel is easily taken up by over 40-year-olds who have injuries from other sports, like football or tennis, and no longer have the stamina to sustain long matches, so they take up padel in later life and end up competing successfully in tournaments.

‘Amongst the over 10,000 registered players at our club, we have a great depth of players from beginners to advanced, from people who have never played sports before, to the ones who are top 10 in the UK rankings. Regardless of anyone’s ability or age, there will always be three other players who can join them on court for a competitive, yet friendly and highly sociable match.’

Is there anyone who should avoid padel?

It’s a resolute no from Anka; anyone can play the sport. That said, if you play frequently, you'll want to be aware of tennis elbow symptoms, which can occur as an overuse injury. Check out our full guide, including the best tennis elbow exercises to ease discomfort.

What kit is needed for padel?

You’ll need the following pieces of kit:

  • A padel racket (these should be provided at your local club, but as they’re usually made of plastic and foam, they’re super affordable for any of you who would like to invest in your own)

  • Depressurised balls (slightly smaller than tennis balls)

  • General activewear

  • Padel or clay court shoes (these may not be essential, depending on where you play - standard trainers can also work)

Why is padel expensive?

Adidas padel rackets retail for around the £60 mark, and sell for much more elsewhere. According to the Veneto Padel Cup website, the rackets are expensive for a few reasons, including construction material costs, the designing and engineering of the products, and the fact that there’s still a fairly limited market, meaning manufacturing costs are higher.

How much does a padel court cost in the UK?

According to S&C Slatter, UK sports construction specialists, the average cost of a padel court is between £55,000 and £80,000. They take around 6-8 weeks to construct.

Where can you buy padel rackets?

Padel rackets are available from various online retailers. Here’s our edit of the best value padel rackets to buy now:


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