As with most sports we play the fun of it is the actual playing of the game itself. This is of course completely true until one day we get an injury and are forced to spend time on the sidelines. Padel fitness training in all its different guises, be it strength training or flexibility work for example, tends to be undertaken by most recreational sports people when they get an injury and are forced to set foot in the gym in the name of rehab to fix the problem that caused the injury. At some point in our sporting lives we will all suffer from niggles, aches and pains. If we ignore them we will more often than not pick up an injury.
This article is aimed at identifying and understanding the fitness requirements needed to play padel. Further articles will delve more deeply into each aspect but this article will give you an overview of what is needed and how to start. The upside to undertaking a fitness routine alongside our padel will not only prevent the likelihood of injury but also support and strengthen our body and actually improve us as players. This if course does not guarantee that we will never get an injury, but it certainly limits the odds against it.
What do we mean by Padel Fitness? Fitness for any sport will look at the physical requirements needed to participate in that sport. All sports have their own individual requirements which set them aside from other sports. Padel is no different, so let’s break down the physical requirements and then see how we can develop a fitness plan to support us and prevent injury.
During a game of padel we are going to need to move forwards, backwards and sideways at varying different speeds. We will also be bending down, twisting left and right, accelerating and decelerating as well as stretching , both sideways and above, to hit volleys and bandejas. Wow, that’s quite a lot when you actually think about it. It is so much fun at the time that you don’t really think about it until after the game or more likely the next day when your back is a bit stiff or your left knee is a little sore. So what can we do then to safeguard against injury and become a stronger player?
The players you see on The World Padel Tour will have their strength and conditioning training covered by a series of experts. Since it is their job they will have the time to focus on all the individual aspects of the game. For the rest of us recreational players we do not have the luxury of time so we need to focus on the key points and do these regularly. So what are those key points?
Flexibility allows the body to move freely. With all the dynamic movements of padel it is essential to have as much flexibility and mobility around the joints. Tight muscles do not enjoy dynamic movements as it forces them to lengthen quickly. If they are tight they will pull hard on the connective tissue that attaches them to the bone and place that joint at risk of injury. Padel needs good flexibility throughout but particularly the knees, ankles, lower back and shoulders. Incorporating some form of yoga into your weekly schedule will go a long way to helping achieve this.
Strength training will quite simply make your muscles stronger, a key element to padel fitness. By targeting some simple yet effective exercises we can make our padel muscles stronger and able to do more. Adding some bodyweight lunges for example will help with the regular knee bending required to reach those lower balls. It is quite common to hear of shoulder niggles amongst recreational players so targeting some shoulder specific exercises would be another great idea. Some dumbbell shoulder presses or dumbbell lateral raises would strengthen the shoulders and their associated connective tissue making them stronger and more able to deal with potential strain when reaching overhead to play a bandeja or smash. There are of course many more exercises but these are some simple examples.
When moving between shots, recovering from a low shot off the back glass or setting yourself for a volley you will need to be balanced. Being able to run for a shot, play it and recover to the next position will also require lots of balance. We gain balance mainly from our core and glutes (bottom) which act as stabilisers for our hips and spine. You will probably have heard of the term ‘core stability’ over the years. This is exactly what core stability is. It is hugely important in preventing injuries particularly in the lower back so it is an essential area to focus on. Incorporating some glute specific work, some planks, side planks and abdominal work will massively help your on court performance.
If you have watched The World Padel Tour then you will be constantly amazed at the speed of the players. Their footwork is amazing around the back glass and they even manage to return smashes from outside of the court through incredible speed and agility. This does not happen by chance. They work on their speed and agility using ladder drills, reaction drills and quick explosive exercises that activate those fast twitch muscles. A lot of this is not out of reach for the recreational player. An agility ladder is not an expensive product to buy and there are a host of footwork drills on line to quicken up your feet.
Consider your Padel Fitness as a form of prehab. This is simply doing the right things regularly to prevent you having to do any rehabilitation exercises once an injury has set in.
What do I do next?
To be as Padel Fit as possible we would recommend that you have a good warm up and cooldown before and after every game. This will without doubt decrease your chances of injury and increase your chances of performing better during the game, particularly at the start if you are properly warmed up. Try to set aside a couple of Padel Fitness sessions each week focusing on the exercises touched upon in this article. These sessions do not need to be lengthy affairs. 15-20 minutes for a session incorporating a little of each aspect is more than adequate. If you are already doing a regular yoga or circuit training class then you will no doubt be incorporating many of the exercises needed to be Padel Fit. Regular reinforcement of good practice so that it becomes habit is the key to long term fitness.
For home workout ideas we have develop a whole playlist of training circuits of specific padel fitness!
For improvements in your game you have to consider technique and tactics alongside the padel fitness!