Let´s start trying to define what complexity means in the padel context. If you are used to the traditional teaching methodologies, the way to explain padel is from analyzing its simple parts without taking into account how they can interact and create new abilities. However, complexity science puts emphasis on the whole system and its environment or context. So a complex system can be defined as a system composed of interconnected components to achieve a specific goal and from the interaction of the parts the final result is better than the sum of its parts.

Padel and complexity

But…what relationship does this have with our sport? A padel player has his own components (mental, coordination or technique, cognitive or tactics, conditional or physical, bioenergetic… and so on) and we should train it in an integrated way because with their interactions we will reach new skills and qualities. That is why the result is more than the sum of its parts. As Antonio Barbosa says: “It is known that water (H2O) is an essential means to extinguish the fire. However, if we separate its components: hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O), any of these substances not only do not turn it off but that makes it even more incandescent.”

Padel players, your team (you and your partner), your rivals…even padel itself are complex systems. If we don´t have this in mind we are losing the key factor, the components of a padel player are interacting every time and the better coordinated they are, the better performance. At the same time, the padel player interacts with the environment: court (fast, slow…), weather (sun, wind, humidity…), the relation with the partner and the opponents, the balls state, the type of racket… but also others unspecific like the mind state, the stress, the nutritional intake… This makes every padel match different.

Example of complexity in World Padel Tour

For example, in the level of the game style, if the court is slow and there is a lot of humidity, the ball will bounce slower, with different trajectories and it can change the dynamic of the match incredibly. We can see it in World Padel Tour: Vigo and Santander Opens had a very different style of play than Madrid or Valladolid tournaments because of the environment conditions. This affects the tactics and shots used, the type of strength applied, the energy consumed or it can change the mental state of the players with less favorable skills in these courts… among other things.

For a long time, we have been separating padel training in small parts and practising each one isolated; if we are willing to change our point of view, we can improve the training efficiency and quality. If we want to improve padel player performance, we should look at how we work: individualize the technique training to the main characteristics of each padel player, work the strength to the requirements of the sport on the gym but also on the court, integrate all the components and work on them in an holistic way… among many others.