Padel is a competitive sport where the objective is to strike a balance between minimizing unforced errors and maximizing winning points. An error can be considered forced if it occurs under pressure from an opponent, or unforced if it happens under favorable conditions for the player making the mistake.

The question often arises: does it make sense to train with a focus on unforced errors? the answer, as usual, is “it depends.” Many thoughts come to mind when searching for our answer.

Players lack the tools to minimize unforced mistakes

Evolution rewards behaviors that best adapt to the environment. Those who adapt the best are the ones who survive. Making numerous unforced errors is not an adaptive behavior since it indicates a failure to learn from the lesson, especially if the errors occur in similar situations.

The other day one of our top players was having a bad day, making a lot of mistakes. We recommended that she play with more margin for error, and to our surprise, after 10 minutes, she exclaimed, “Wow! That adjustment really helped me!” How a good player has not considered this before? therefore, even top players sometimes struggle to identify the actions that can help them maintain consistency.

As coaches, when designing specific drills, some players ask if they can go for winning shots. Our response, on many occasions, is “yes, if you can maintain consistency.” After few points they start making many mistakes. So, do they know how to be consistent? Many players have no tools to be consistent.

How can we train to avoid unforced mistakes?

Once again, it depends. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Each coach should adapt these training methods to their specific context. We believe the first step is to be aware of unforced mistakes and recognize the impact they have on the game and the lessons they teach us. In both life and padel, we learn our most valuable lessons from failures and the mistakes we make ourselves. The problem arises when we continue to make the same mistakes without learning from them.

We encourage our players to explore through game challenges where they have to decide the most sensible and effective way to play the ball, considering the speed and placement. They learn to accept mistakes as part of the learning process. Through tasks and drills, we demand our players step out of their comfort zones. By doing so, they will discover new patterns and strategies to adapt in the mentally challenging world of padel.

For instance, you could use a rope above the net to require players to pass the ball at a height of 50cm above the net, aiming for the middle of the court or targeting the body of the opponents. These exercises helps avoid hitting the net or the fences. Another example is placing marks on the sides and back of the court, where players must volley so that the ball bounces at least one meter away from the glass. While some may consider these conditions unnecessary, players often make risky decisions and fail to play with sufficient margins. They believe they need to play at the limit to win the point, forgetting the principle of consistency.

It is not as simple as just trying to play with enough margin

What happens if I already have some tools to be consistent, such as playing with enough margins, but I still make a lot of unforced mistakes? Padel is a complex sport with many factors that can affect your consistency: physical, technical, tactical….but one of the biggest factors is overthinking, which often leads to more mistakes.

When you focus on avoiding something, you are more likely to fixate on it. For example, if I tell you not to think about an elephant, you will probably end up thinking about an elephant. The same applies in padel when you focus on not making a mistake, It actually increases the likelihood of making a mistake compared to simply focusing on something else.

But even though you are trying to focus on something else than avoiding mistakes, sometimes, thoughts come into your mind without your permission. You might be trying to focus on one thing, but another thought interrupts you, saying “don’t make a mistake” or “you’re going to miss it.”

In our opinion, this is something normal but this aspect should also be trained if we want to be prepared for such situations. If we eliminate the competitive nature from training, a behavior that is useful in practice may not be effective in a real game or competition.


Avoiding unforced mistakes is a complex problem, but it can and should be trained, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to training for it. One of the initial goals to decrease the unforced mistakes is to develop the necessary tools to play with a sufficient margin of security in our shots. By having this margin, we can reduce the number of mistakes and also increase our confidence.

However, there are situations in which our mind can play tricks on us, leading to thoughts that harm our performance. It is important to train for these situations as well. For example, create scenarios in which a mistake make us lose a game right away or apply pressure by shortening the court with specific marks.

Therefore, if we truly want to decrease the unforced mistakes, a good approach is to work on it both indirectly and directly, preparing ourselves to handle any situation that may arise during a match.