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Importance of strategy and tactics in padel

por Ángel Martín

Technique, tactics and strategy.

We often find it difficult to understand and differentiate between these concepts and we talk about them indistinctly, especially strategy and tactics. To try to simplify it, we could define these terms as:

  • Strategy. It is the programme or planning that is elaborated on a certain basis and considering the different criteria and variables to achieve the proposed goal
  • Tactics. The process by which the different technical, psychological, physical and other possibilities are combined to provide immediate solutions to the different variables and situations that may arise during a competition.
  • Technique. It is the execution of movements that obey a series of patterns and tempo-spatial models that guarantee maximum efficiency.

In other words, strategy assumes the different strokes, styles of play or tactics that opponents can carry out to analyse them and establish subsequent plans. Tactics, however, involve using the most appropriate technical gestures at each moment of the game, as it happens and on the go.

Surely you and your partner have come up against players of a lower technical level and with fewer resources than you, yet they are able to give you a lot of difficulties and even win due to a good use of tactics.

Padel is a sport of mistakes. Except for very high level or professional players, who statistically make a very similar number of unforced errors and winners, even making more winning points than mistakes, for the rest of us mortals, we have to understand that we should base our game on complicating our opponents’ strokes until we force them to play a risky stroke and make a mistake or leave us a very simple ball with which to play a final stroke.

The “tidiness” in padel.

When we talk about tidiness or playing in a tidy way in padel, we refer to playing strokes that are tactically correct. In short, if you are a tidy player in general, you will be applying tactics well.
You must be aware that in each action of the game, you can make different choices or decisions that lead to a series of possible responses from your opponent that you can statistically predict.
Playing in a tidy way, therefore, would be to take these variables into account and make the decision that works best for you as a couple.

It should be noted that in our sport it is impossible to cover the entire court. Therefore, we must choose the options that generate the least number of free spaces on our court side.

“To play tidily is to play where it is necessary or appropriate at any given moment according to statistics/probability”.

How do you get to play “tidy”?

To achieve this, both partners must be on the same page and totally in tune with each other. You must “play the same game”. As we have seen before, you need to be clear about your goal and the strategy you will use to try to achieve it. To make the strategy a reality, it will be essential to have a good use of tactics that allows you to “stick to the plan”. Otherwise, if one of you does not make good use of it, you will play unexpected strokes, such as changes of direction or pace, which will cause tilting and create spaces in your own half of the court. In addition, you will not work your opponents effectively and you will get away from the strategy you have set out.

For this, it is important that you exchange views from time to time, seek common ground, consensus on goals, strategy and how to achieve them. 

It is important that from the beginning you have a “route plan” marked out with your partner. Maintaining or proposing possible variations in your strategy depending on the different situations that arise in the game. It would even be advisable (this is what most couples with a certain level do) to talk to your partner before each point to know what you will do on the next point or even how you will try to serve or return.

“Having a plan helps focus and greatly improves performance”.

Examples of possible tactics/strategies

Below is a list of some of the most recurrent strategies, which we will discuss in the following articles.

  • Strategies/tactics for doing and getting out of “the fridge”.
  • Strategies/tactics for dealing with matches against unbalanced pairs.
  • Strategies/tactics for playing against aggressive partners.
  • Strategies/tactics for playing against opponents who have a particular bad stroke.
  • Strategies/tactics for approaching matches against an opponent who has a very good particular stroke.
  • Strategies/tactics for playing outdoors.
  • Strategy or tactics for playing indoors with low ceilings
    Variations according to climate or geographical area.

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