Padel is a process integrated in life, so, it is impossible to understand one without taking into account the other. We don’t live, stop and then, play padel; we play padel as a part of life and as we live. All the values, personality, aims… that one can have along his/her life, play an important role in the padel court. Padel is a process of cooperation-competition governed by principles that also govern other processes in many other life levels (social, economical, cellular, molecular… and so on).

Limitations (constraints) affect our game

A limitation (constraint) is a condition that restricts some kind of behaviors. For example: physical condition, weight, values, personality are one type of condition (organismic), there are other environmental conditions that are external to the body such as social values, gravity, a game situation, weather, racket, ball… and so on. The actions during a padel game appear because of this organism-environment relationship that shapes the behaviour at every moment.

Let´s start with the values which are organismic limitations that act at higher levels but also long times scales: how you think influences every aspect of your life, and it is very difficult to change it over night (it influences decades). Because of that, they are a slow-changing constraint. On the other hand, a position of an opponent in the court is an environmental constraint that acts at lower levels and short timescales: it just influences one or two actions during milliseconds or seconds, and it doesn’t have a big impact on the game (neither on your life). These two kinds of constraints are not isolated, but integrated: your values influence your actions but, does one action influence and change the values? It is much difficult. This is the circular causality property of the complex systems that explains that is more effective to intervene in the slow-changing constraints.

The same slow-changing constraints that affect a person’s daily life also influence how (s)he behaves on the padel court. A player that is constrained by the need to have control and consciousness of everything (s)he does, probably will play each shot and ball with intention knowing why because (s)he will feel the same need in the court. In the same vein, one person that is used to work under high-stressful conditions won’t have the same feeling in tough competition moments than one who is constrained by the “fear of losing” and is insecure in his/her day to day life. Similarly, a person who has the desire to stand out and be recognized at the school, university or job, probably, when (s)he enters the padel court will behave same way, looking for external approval, concerned with performing spectacular “highlights” movements instead of having a functional behavior.

Coaches need to know the person inside the player

A coach needs to understand why players behave as they do to be able to intervene optimally. To generate significative learning processes we can focus on fast-changing behaviors to influence specific actions, but we will achieve more significant effects by influencing the slow-changing ones (also, it will be more difficult) because we will produce a cascade effect in all the lower levels: if a player changes his/her personality, values or objectives: his/her behaviour in life (and in the court) will change.

Understanding how slow-changing constraints work makes us to be involved actively in the padel court but also in life. We can help a player that is insecure in the padel court, but always taking into account that this fact has to be worked a lot out of it. The more influence we gain in slow-changing constraints, the more meaningful learnings our players will achieve.