PADEL Quick Start Guide
For those that are new to the game of PADEL, we are providing this QUICK START guide.
The rules are mostly like in tennis. The wall and the side mesh are physical differences that determine some of the rule differences. You play two sets, first to win 6 games but must win by two. Tie-break at 6-6. Third set if necessary. Change ends at odd scores.
Always pick up all the balls on the court before starting a point. The balls may also be pushed into the bottom of the net. This not only avoids stepping on the balls, but if your opponents shot hits one of those balls and you are not able to make a play, they get the point. If your opponents are serving, always give the balls to the server’s partner. When the first serve is out, keep the ball in your pocket or pass it to the server’s partner.
Many professional players don’t keep any balls in their pockets as they may fall out during a jump for a smash. If this happens, a LET must be played, losing the advantage they had in the point.
In order to avoid crashing with your partner during a point, make sure you communicate so you both know who is going to take the shot.
You must always wear the padel strap over your wrist to stop your padel from becoming a projectile during a smash. If no strap around your wrist, you lose the point.
The same as in tennis, the first point is 15, the second 30 and the third 40. Tied at 40 is called Deuce. Points after that are called “advantage to server” or “advantage to receiver” or simply “Ad-in/Ad-out. Must win by two points. You must let everyone know the current score when you are serving, before you start your serve. This gives your partner and the other team a chance to agree or disagree with the score.
If the server has not mentioned the score when he is about to hit the serve to you, your team must ask the server to tell the score. Otherwise it means you are agreeing with the score the server is thinking it is. How would you know?…
Who serves first?
Do a coin toss, or spin your padel before starting the match.
The winner of the toss decides if they want to serve or receive, or select the end where they want to start the match. If the winners of the toss select to serve, then the losers can pick the side of the court they want for the first game. This is an important selection. You may opt to receive against the sun, for example, and the following two games your opponents would face the sun.
Does the player on the right side have to start serving?
No, any of the two players in the serving team can start serving, regardless of the position they will occupy during the set. You may decide to have the stronger player start serving.
Errors in Scoring, Server turns, or End Changes
What happens if when I’m serving I realize that it was my partner’s turn to serve?
First finish the point you are playing. Then your partner takes over serving and the game continues. At any time anyone realizes there has been an error, the error must be rectified and the game continues. You don’t start the game again or take points off the score.
The Underhand Serve
The serve is only allowed underhand, you bounce the ball behind the service line and hit it at waist height or lower. You must have at least one foot on the ground. Your serve must first bounce on the opponent’s side of the court and then could bounce off the side or the end wall. If you hit the side mesh, it’s out, unless the ball bounces on the court more than once before touching the mesh, in which case you would get another serve.
Before you serve, you must tell everyone the current score. You should have an extra ball in your pocket in case you need to hit a second serve.
Before you hit your second serve, wait until your opponents have picked-up the ball from the first serve.
What if my opponent hits the return of serve before the ball bounces on his court?
He loses the point.
Who determines a serve may be out?
Each team must make calls on their side of the court and you should respect their call. If you truly believe that their call was wrong, you may discuss with your opponents, but ultimately they decide. If you are unhappy with too many bad calls, and you are playing in a tournament, you may ask the club officials to provide an umpire.
If it’s your turn to make a call but you and your partner are unsure, then the other team will get the point. During a friendly game they may agree to replay the point.
What if I see that my serve was clearly out?
Keep playing the point. Your opponents call their side of the court, they haven’t said anything so keep going. You may discuss your disagreements after the point.
Note that if you are returning serve, you should not say anything when the serve is in or it would distract the other team, they may think you said out. Distractions can cost you a point.
Does the receiver have to stand behind the service line?
No, it’s his choice where he stands, but if he is inside the service box he is not allowed to volley the serve return and the serve may bounce behind him.
Does the serve receiver’s partner have to stand behind the service line?
No, players can stand anywhere they want during the serve, except outside of the court. It’s recommended that the receiver’s partner stands behind the service line, but it’s really his choice and tactically he may decide to do differently.
If it’s my team’s turn to start the second set, do we have to follow the same serve order as in the previous set?
No, it’s a new set, when your turn to serve comes you can decide who serves. In a new set you can also change your position on the court.
I hit the serve, the ball bounced on the other side and went out the door (?)
It’s fault, unless external play is allowed in which case play a LET. In most clubs, external play is not allowed due to the short distance between courts.
What happens if I hit the returner’s partner with my serve?
Q&A – Dos and Don’t s!
Can I change the side of the court I play during a set?
No, once you have selected which side you are playing and your team has already received serve, you can’t change your position (forehand or backhand side) until the end of the set.
Can my shot hit the mesh (metallic fence) on my side of the court?
No, you are only allowed to hit the ball off your back wall or side wall.
My shot bounced on the other side of the net and went through the metallic fence (?)
You get the point. Same if the ball gets stuck in the metallic fence.
What happens if my shot accidentally hits an opponent?
You get the point, even if the ball comes back over the net to your side. Unless the ball hits the net first, and then the player, then it’s a LET. If you hit your opponent with your serve, then it’s fault.
What if my shot comes off my body?
You lose the point.
I hit the ball with the handle of my padel (?)
It’s good, keep playing. However, if the ball touched your hand as well, you lose the point.
A ball fell out off my pocket during a point (?)
Rules say you must play a LET.
Both of my opponents contacted the ball at the same time, is that allowed?
You can hit your partner’s padel at the time he is making the shot, but you cannot hit the ball at the same time.
My shot hit a ball that was on the opponent’s side of the court!
The point continues. If your opponents can’t return the shot then it’s your point. Players are responsible to clear all objects from their own side of the court.
What happens when my shot goes over the net but out the side door?
If it bounces on the court before going out then it’s your point. When external play is allowed, your opponents can go out the wall and try to make their shot from outside the court.
What if I hit a smash and the ball comes back off the back wall into my side of the court?
It’s your point if your opponents haven’t touched it, and you or your partner don’t touch it before it bounces on your side.
I hit a smash that bounced over the end wall, but I touched the net before it bounced again outside the court (?)
It’s your point, as external play is not permitted as in most clubs. The point is over at the time the ball goes over the wall. Where play outside the court is permitted, the ball needs to bounce outside the court first before the point is finished.
Can I reach over the net to hit the ball?
No, you lose the point, with two exceptions:
- In the case you hit a hard smash, and the ball comes back to your court from the back wall, your opponents can cross the line of the net to try to reach it before it bounces on your side.
- If your opponent’s shot has enough back spin that the ball after bouncing on your side of the court turns back and goes over the net to your opponent’s side of the court, you can reach over the net and make your shot. In this case your best shot would be straight back into the net.
You are allowed however, as you hit a shot, to follow through over the net as long as the contact point starts on your side.
Can I touch the net during the point?
No, you lose the point if you or your padel touch the net, unless the point is already over before you touch it (includes the net post, and any part of the opponent’s court).
This guy was changing the padel between right and left hands, is that allowed?
Only if he is able to attach the strap around his wrist before contacting the ball.
This guy propelled himself off the side mesh to hit a smash, is that allowed?
Yes. Players can touch any part of the court, except for the net/post.
How to play the TIE-BREAK
If the score in the set is tied 6-6, then the tie-break is played. The format is the same as in tennis. The winner will be the first to get to 7 points, but must win by two points.
Who serves first in the tie-break?
The first player to serve is the one who is next in line to serve. He gets to serve only one point.
Where do I serve from?
When you start the tie-break the score is an even 0-0, therefore the serve is from the deuce court. Next, the other team serves two points and so on. Their first serve will be from the add court as the score is an odd number.
When do we change ends?
Change ends after 6 points and at multiples of 6.
What if we forget to change ends?
No problem, just change ends as soon as you realize you haven’t.
Do I win the tie-break at 7-6?
No, you have to win by two points.
Do we change ends after the tie-break?
Yes, the final score for the set is counted as 7-6, it adds up to an odd number so you change ends.
Which team serves next after the tie-break is over?
The team that started the tie break receiving will now serve first in the next set.
QUIZ – Questions for YOU!
My opponents say that my shot touched the metallic fence that was very near my racquet on my side of the court. I am pretty sure that it didn’t. They are asking for the point. What should I do?
I just hit a serve return winner!… but my opponents insist their serve was out. What should I do?
My opponent hit a hard smash and the ball bounced on our side, hit the back wall and went all the way back to his side of the court, hitting his partner’s racket before bouncing on their court. Is it their point?
Let us know what is your call!
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Download the IPF OFFICIAL PADEL RULES