We just finished playing a padel match, and upon arriving home, our partner asks us, “How did you play today?” To which we respond, “We lost, but I played very well.” Amidst it all, the thought arises, “What does it mean to play well in padel?”

In this post, we will reflect on what playing padel well means to us, and we will make some annotations about what very good padel players like our friend Cristian do to play padel very well.

Context dependent

“When it comes to answering that question, we encounter a response that depends on points of view, semantics, and individual perceptions. The answer is complex and context-dependent. In contexts where the goal is the satisfaction of winning, playing well (the “how”) will be related to achieving that objective. On the other hand, in contexts where the score is not considered and the focus is on having fun, playing well will be associated with the enjoyment experienced at the end of the game.

If we take a serious approach, the rules of padel do not take into account factors such as enjoyment or satisfaction; instead, they primarily focus on scoring points and winning the game. When the purpose is victory, playing well is more associated with function and effectiveness rather than form, aesthetics, or the “how.” As Pep Guardiola stated in his high-level context, “The correct way to play is to win. I’m not going to waste a single second on that stupid debate about styles.” To win a match you need to effective, according to Cambridge, effectiveness is defined as “the ability, especially of a medicine or method, to produce the intended result.”

What playing padel well is not about

Most of us are drawn to the aesthetics, the spectacularity of the shots, and the effectiveness of the game. However, when you delve into the sport and begin to understand it, you start to see many aspects that are hidden from the eyes of the amateur viewer.

Playing padel well is not about hitting the ball in a masterful way, having an incredible ability to coordinate movements, having brute force to hit the ball hard, or moving extremely fast around the court. These virtues are not essential to playing padel well, of course, if you have them, it will be easier for you to play well, but there are other things that weigh more on the mental part of understanding the game.

What good padel players do: the case of Cristian

The other day at the club, we watched Cristian playing padel, a player who left us amazed. Cristian was not one of those players with an extremely beautiful technique or with shots that “kill the opponent”; his physique was more like that of a chess player. However, there were several aspects of the game that he controlled in a sublime way and that make him a very good player.

Decision making capacity

Cristian knows how to choose each shot very well, understands the principle of consistency, and knows that without consistency, it is difficult to play padel well. He made very few mistakes; most of the errors were in a very forced situation.


Every time Cristian had time to prepare the shot, it was practically impossible to know where he was going to play, but once he played, he was already in a good position to play the next ball.


We felt like he was always one step ahead of his opponents, it was as if he knew where the next ball was going to come from and was always in the right position. He could see what was going to happen before others.

Play as a team

Thanks to his good decisions, his partner seemed to flow on the court, every ball he received was very easy, he was always in a good position. It was as if Cristian always chose the best option for the team, regardless of whether his game was sacrificed if the team ended up benefiting.


Cristian always seemed to find free spaces, no matter what situation he was in, there was always a gap to put the ball in, although he chose the easiest gap not necessarily the biggest or the most complicated.

Game tempo

Suddenly, we realized that Cristian’s team was controlling the tempo of the game. If they wanted the game to be slow, Cristian played slowly, if they needed a bit of speed because they were entering into an apathetic rhythm, Cristian accelerated the movements and found new situations of advantage.


There were several games in which the opponents started to control the match, and at that moment, we saw that Cristian’s partner began to doubt and began to rush his decisions. However, Cristian understands that padel is uncertain and non linear, that there are bumps along the way. So he knew it was time to put on his work clothes, begin to resist and adapt to the new situation, waiting for the storm to pass. After two very good games from his opponents, the momentum turned back to Cristian’s team.

What can we learn from Cristian as coaches?

The definition of “What does it mean to play well in padel?” depends on each person and their goals. Going by the rules, for us, playing well means choosing the best resources that bring you as close as possible to victory. For us, you can play well and lose because winning or losing is uncontrollable, but if the “how” is effective, we can have more influence in the score.

The knowledge of padel does not rely on teaching perfect technique, fast movement, or hitting the ball hard. Those are just some pieces of the puzzle. The greatest weight lies in helping the player understand the game, control the match, play with the opponents and not against them, find the best option for the team, and read what each moment of the match requires so they are able to adapt to each situation. Playing well is practicality.

The bad news is that these aspects are the most difficult to train. Training “shots” or even basic tactics can be done by any coach, but training game intelligence requires a lot of coaching experience in order to understand and effectively communicate it.