Improve your padel court position during a match
Basic Padel Court Position
This article aims to give advice for getting the right padel court position and will not cover all the tactical nuances for optimal positioning based on every scenario and to counter your opponents’ every move. It’s meant as a starting point for players looking to put themselves in the right areas for return of serve, defending and attacking play. Positioning is crucial in padel and you will often see the best players seem to have all the time in the world to play their shots – it’s because they are starting from the right place and make the right choices based on their opponents’ padel court position. This article aims to set you on your way to positioning yourself well and giving yourself the best chance to improve your game.
Back of the court – return of serve and defending
When you’re at the back of the court, you always want to stand in line with your partner. The ideal position is one step back from the service line and two steps back from the side of the court (alternatively, imagine a line running from the glass separator on the side of the court, and a line running from the back glass separator on your side of the court, as a general rule, you want to be standing where those two lines would cross, assuming the court is standard size).
This is the starting position when you’re returning serve and also when your opponents are at the net and you are defending. Your partner is on the same spot, but on the opposite side of the court to you. If you are too far towards the middle of the court, any shot towards the side glass or into the corner, especially hit at pace, will be very difficult to reach and will put you at a disadvantage or will probably even lose you the point. Alternatively if you or your partner are too close to the side glass, it leaves a big hole in the middle of the court, giving your opponent an easy serve or shot down the T and any shot (or serve) from your opponent into the side glass will be difficult to return. So try and position yourself in the optimum position described above. This is the most effective position to defend well and to allow yourself to stay in the point and, on the right shot, turn defence into attack . A good way to do this is to hit a good lob over your opponents’ heads to allow you and your partner to take the net position. From the net position you are in control of the point.
Net Court Position
When you’re at the net, you can use the 3 posts of the fence as your reference point for where to stand – we use this in our lessons to clarify your padel court position. Post three would be the one contacting the glass, then post two and so on up towards the net. Usually the best position to stand would be in line with the second post, since from this position, depending on the ball you receive from your opponents, you’ll be able to take a step forward and hit a good deep volley to put your opponents in trouble or take a step or two backwards to retrieve a ball from your opponents at back of the court if you have been lobbed. Your partner would generally take the same position as you but on the other side of the court. Of course, this is general advice for most situations but this can vary as you develop your game and something different may be called for depending on certain game scenarios.
One of the major problems with the net positioning for beginners is standing too close to the net as a starting net position. If you are standing really close to the net when your opponents have time to play a good shot, it will be over your head and you will have much further to run back and less time to prepare and hit your shot, or it will be drilled at you where you will have less time to react and hit a good shot back, putting you at a big disadvantage. In the video you can see exactly that kind of scenario when you’re too close to the net. The one time you do want to be on top of the net is when you’ve hit a really good ball to put your opponents in trouble, for instance a deep volley or a shot where they need to stretch and they will not be able to hit a quality shot back to you, because then it is likely to be an easy put away for you, either out of the court or out of their reach.
No Man’s Land
No Man’s Land is the place on the court between the back of the court and the net position. As a general rule you never want to be here! There are two main reasons why players get stuck in No Man’s Land – check out this video to see our tutorial. The first one is when you should be defending at the back of the court but you subconsciously move forward into this position thinking you are gaining a positional advantage where in fact you are doing the opposite. The second one is when you are lobbed, you hit a shot back ( for instance a bandeja) and then do not quickly take a position at the net but stay “ball-watching” the game in the middle of the court rather than transitioning through that area to the net. Being in the middle of the court, in No Man’s Land is not where you want to be. Players caught here will often be playing difficult shots down at their feet or seeing the ball sail past them for a winner for their opponent. A good illustration of this is in the Padel Match Analysis section – Match Analysis for Intermediate players.
Advanced Padel Court Position
Watching the padel players of the World Padel Tour play the game, you will see that their positioning will vary quite a bit from what is described here since their game is highly advanced, but this article is mainly focussed on the basic positions and tactics in padel. As you progress, you will begin to realise that you should try and pick your position based on multiple factors : for instance your opponents’ position (their positioning will determine their options for playing the ball back to you and hence where you should be standing), weight and placement of your shot, where your partner is, and a combination of these things but if you try and think of the basic positions explained in this article and video at the start of your padel journey, then your game will begin to improve immediately.
For further information on advanced positioning, take a look at the Padel Positioning section in the Padel Tips Library – in particular the following articles:
- When to move forward in padel
- Moving as a pair
- The best net position
Whenever we analyse players matches in our community, the padel court position is almost always a topic for immediate improvement. On our membership platform, not only can you have your shots analysed but you can also watch all the previous match analysis videos – you can check it out for free with our 7 day trial!