David Ferrer, a former world No. 3 tennis player, once stated that he often struggled to perform well. Out of the 70 matches he played in a year, he felt he played very well only about 5 times. However, he acknowledged that it’s not always possible to consistently play at a high level; most of the time, he had to win matches even while playing poorly, especially in the early rounds of competitions.

In this post, we will explore the days when you might feel like heading home or giving up on padel, and we’ll discuss strategies to not only “survive” but also learn from such challenging days.

Padel Problems: A Parallel to Life

At the core, life and padel share many similarities. If we were to dissect the 30 days in a month and evaluate how they went, it’s common for people to experience quite a few bad days, a handful of fantastic days, and the majority of days falling somewhere in between. Apply this to the 30 days you play padel, and you might notice a similar distribution of very good, average, and bad days. These two realms are interconnected; a great day often translates into great performance in the court, and vice versa.

I like to view it as a problem-solving endeavor. In a padel match, you’re confronted with different challenges continuously, and your task is to find solutions to overcome them. The problems can stem from opponents, environmental factors, or even internal struggles. How well you explore diverse solutions to address these challenges and adapt to varying scenarios can determine whether you survive the toughest days or simply give up.

When we have an exceptional training session where all four players are performing at their best (which is quite rare), I like to remind them that while this is remarkable, it’s an exception. On the other hand, on days when one or more players are struggling, I emphasize that these are the most valuable lessons we can learn from. These tough days are the ones where it’s easiest to throw in the towel.

Interestingly, I’ve never heard a player who had a remarkable padel performance complain about having a bad day at work, feeling tired, dealing with subpar balls, etc. However, many players tend to seek excuses when they have a bad day on the court. These excuses might seem to explain their poor performance, but from my perspective, they often stem from the mind’s inclination to avoid acknowledging personal responsibility.

How Can We Play Decently on Those Challenging Days?

  • Acceptance: The initial step is to grasp and embrace the fact that most days will either be average or not so good. Exceptional days are, indeed, exceptional. Once you internalize this, you can start seeking solutions.
  • Maintain Movement: On challenging days, you might feel tempted to give up. However, if you stop moving and cease running for the ball, your chances of overcoming the situation plummet. Keeping active is crucial.
  • Adjust Your Level: On good days, your performance level is around 8 out of 10. You can play with speed, maintain short margins, and use different directions. On bad days, it’s important to lower it to a 5. This means playing with less speed, employing wider safety margins, and choosing straightforward shots. As you successfully return more balls, your confidence will likely rise, enabling you to gradually elevate your level to a 6, then 7, and hopefully back to 8.
  • Collaborate: Ideally, your partner understands the situation and provides support. Depending on your personality, you might need constant physical and verbal encouragement, along with tips from your partner. However, if you’re the partner, try to avoid isolating yourself or showing frustration towards your pair; these actions could increase pressure on your teammate.

Winning a match on such challenging days can greatly boost your confidence. Nobody enjoys playing poorly, but more than that, people dislike losing. So, even if you play poorly but manage to win, you not only get another chance to play but also bolster your belief in performing well when you’re in better form. Remember, the ability to navigate and triumph over adversity is a hallmark of a skilled and resilient player. Best players are very good in their average days.