Recently we were fortunate enough to have Bela at our club to train!
For a bit of background, I have actually had this pleasure a couple of times in the past (in Barcelona) and we hosted the WPT Masters in Dubai in 2015 – which he won with Lima. On all of these occasions Bela has been a role model of professionalism and focus (when many are not!).
This starts off the court, training his physical fitness off court for more time than he spends training on court. Bela has always emphasized the importance of his physical training and more so the older he gets. Averaging now 6 fitness to 3 or 4 on court training sessions. Now Bela is 42 years old he says that he cannot have much of an “off season” and needs to keep this training up throughout the year. And those sessions seem never to be missed!
Padel Training (on court)
When it comes to Bela’s on court training, there is not a wasted minute. The intensity is high 100% of the time, whether defending at the back of the court or at net! If he trains hitting with such speed and intensity in practice, the match speed does not come as a surprise. This is also the reason Bela likes to train 2 vs 1 (him being the 1!), because he plays the ball with a frequency more than would be needed in a match. The precision and accuracy on the shots are something to see, every single ball is hit with intention! And I can tell you from experience the ball comes at you with some serious power (so heavy!), which is difficult to appreciate unless you are the one receiving the bullets haha.
But for me the most impressive thing about Bela’s game/attitude is his tactical awareness, both for himself, but also for his opponents. Every match now he knows his opponents and can recite a list of strengths and weaknesses. These are not just “weak backhand”, this is “the player finds it difficult turning in the corner and moving forward to play the backhand when I hit a bandeja a bit lower and faster and usually ends up playing the ball to a certain area of our court”. His mind is like a database of player information and how to play against them. I asked, theoretically if he didn’t know his opponents how would he find out the strengths and weaknesses. His response was that it takes him 4 games to know everything he needed for both opponents. I felt like this was a conditioned length of time and he trained himself at an early age to analyse the game with such focus.
I truly believe the professional mentality combined with being a master tactician is the reason Bela has been world number 1 for so many years (16…so far). To make him even more of a role model, he now devotes much of his time to developing the game internationally. Bela’s humble and down to earth personality makes him liked by any who are fortunate enough to spend time with him and I hope he continues to inspire padel around the world!
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