Information on building padel courts
Will it help your sports or tennis club?
Whether you have an existing sports facility or tennis club if your aim is to get more people through the doors, it will almost certainly help! The numbers generally surprise most clubs and you roughly get 180-200 players per week per padel court, providing you are doing a good job of renting the courts. But if you do want the best chance of being successful when build padel courts, here are a few considerations:
This is a crucial decision, both in terms of where in your club to put the courts and the direction/space it has. If you put only one padel court tucked away at the back of the club where nobody can see it, then it makes sense it is more difficult for you to get it busy. Padel is a more sociable sport than most, so the best place is within viewing distance of the café/clubhouse. Players bring their friends, families often play together and so it will benefit the club to have it in that location.
When it comes to the direction of the padel court, North-South facing is even more important than for tennis courts, owing to the fact that the back walls are glass. You could put a fabric across the back like tennis, but that completely defeats the purpose of having a glass court in the first place. We would also recommend not having it backing on to the car park. There is nothing worse than playing and trying to see the ball with hundreds of sun reflections shining at you from behind the court.
Give space around your court if you can. For official tournaments 2metres between courts is ideal, but even if you will not host those tournaments it is a good amount of space for people to have their equipment and change ends etc.
On a side note, you can actually get netting to go around the top of the fence that will stop balls going out. We would recommend this if you are on the perimeter of your club or next to a café/car park etc. The court manufacturer in most cases can provide this if you ask for it.
This plays a part in deciding whether to cover the court, the paint used, the type of grass etc. If your climate is rainy, then as you would expect a cover makes sense (the glass is very difficult to play with when wet). Nowadays you can find canopies or bubbles that can go over the courts, which we will discuss in the next section.
If you are near the sea, make sure you have a layer of protective paint or you will find the metal and bolts are quickly corroded.
Within environment probably fits the issue of planning permissions and this is something that it is really worth getting to know the system in the area you are planning to build. It is different in each country (and often different within areas of the same country!).
If you’re in an environment where you require a canopy or cover, then there are a few things to consider. The canopy should clear the width and length of the court by a couple of metres (or have sides), because rain will still get on the court if it is the same dimensions as the court. If the cover is only above, then you would want the court facing North-South due to the light at sunset. If the court it fully covered, then it is not relevant.
The height varies, but we recommend a minimum of 9 metres, if it can be 11/12 metres that’s even better. The courts should be placed under the roof so that it is even on both sides, not one side of the court sloping to the edge of the canopy while the other side has plenty of space.
In most cases where the weather is an issue, the cover can provide an additional 4-5 months of play and is definitely worth it.
Types of padel courts
There are a few different models of courts and plenty of companies that manufacturer them now. So lets discuss a few:
This is how all the courts used to be built, concrete back and sides, then a netting along the side. It does the job, you don’t get the same amount of humidity on the surface of the concrete, so that is a benefit. But then you also do not get the same energy transference with the rebound. The big problem for the clubs with the concrete court is the viewing, as you can only watch through the side fence.
This is the basic model of court which has a metal support between each pane of glass around the court. Often with this type of court, as there’s the support the glass thickness can be 10mm (as opposed to 12mm). This court plays exactly the same as the other versions of glass court, with the viewing slightly interrupted due to the posts.
This model does not have the posts supporting along the back glass for better viewing. Glasses are held in place by the metal structure. There are various type of “deluxe” “special edition” “super duper” panoramic courts, with various aesthetic structures, but the principles are the same – better viewing.
There are singles courts that are available and some clubs are considering them. I would only recommend them if the club is absolutely full and you do not have the space to build a full size court. You might be able to do some coaching or junior hours on there, but I doubt they will ever be as popular as the doubles courts, as padel is built on socializing!
Padel Courts Costs
There are now plenty of companies that manufacturer courts, in different countries now too. All of which are relatively easy to contact through social media or a website. There are also plenty of “intermediaries” that essentially get you a quote from these companies if you are finding it difficult. It is definitely worth getting a few quotes when it comes to the project, because I have experienced differences in up to €20,000 for almost the same court. Many of the quotes from Spain (or most countries) can include shipping and installation, but might not include rental of cranes/local charges etc. Definitely read the fine print to know what is covered.
Another reason to order more than one court is that if you are shipping them, it can often be slightly cheaper as many companies can include 2 courts in the same shipping container. Many clubs are put off by an expensive quote, but if you get 2 or 3 you will realize the costs are not that high – even for quality (which we recommend above just getting the cheapest).
We cannot emphasize the importance of a proper foundation enough! We’ve seen many clubs put down courts on “flat” surfaces only to find problems with alignment and the grass coming up etc. All the court manufacturers will provide the spec to make the foundation, but this is not an area to try to shortcut. It is not always so similar as to put a court directly on a tennis court. Consult the court manufacturer before ordering the courts to make sure your contractor knows what they are doing as far as the base.
Number of padel courts
We have talked about this in a previous blog post, which you can find here. But it does not make sense to put in 1 or even 2 courts. From a sport development angle you would be limited, as a coach will occupy half your available hours, there is not enough space to have proper tournaments. This is not even considering covering the costs of construction, which will be covered much faster with more courts. Almost every club that has put in only 1 or 2 have regretted not putting in more at the start and most are trying to get permission for more! Personally, I would be looking for 6+ courts if you are in any medium-large city in Europe (excluding Spain probably where the competition is fierce and 6 courts is considered a warm up area!).
Plan your launch
This might sound like a really obvious part of building the court and the most enjoyable aspect to ponder on. But this will be critical, particularly if you are building in an area that is relatively new to padel and you don’t have an existing padel community. Spend time to find a good coach to manage the events and give lessons…and it will take time, padel coaches are not easy to find. A tennis coach dabbling in a bit of padel is not the same. Try to have your booking systems setup and staff trained in advance, because when the padel gains momentum at the club you will have a flood of interest. And lastly, but definitely not least, plan your social media and objectives for the club.
Having been involved in countless padel projects from start to finish, I hope I’d be able to answer your questions (and I am not sponsored by a court manufacturer so my answers will be completely unbiased), please feel free to email and I’ll help where I can: firstname.lastname@example.org