If I had to describe padel in a few words, I’d say it’s a game of positioning. When you watch a padel match, it’s essentially a battle to secure the best position at the net. Players continuously shift their positions in this pursuit. As we mentioned in our Fundamentals of padel blog, positioning is a critical aspect of the game. In fact, it’s the most crucial concept because the entire game hinges on it.

In our view of padel, there are four levels of positioning, primarily differing in decision-making and the size of the position area.

Level 1: Beginners

At this stage, players need to grasp the optimal positions right from the start. Think of it like driving on a road – if you don’t know your lane’s position, you’ll be crashing all the time. So, beginners must understand where to position themselves both at the back and the net. They should aim to be there, waiting for the ball patiently and not rushing. If their opponents force them to move, they should quickly return to their position.

The key characteristic of level 1 positioning is that players mainly focus on themselves rather than their rivals or partners. They wait for the ball without abandoning their position.

Level 2: Intermediate

As players improve, they’ve already grasped level 1, and their technical skills have grown. They can now make decisions to maintain or regain their position. For instance, they might execute a lob from the back or a slow bandeja because they understand the need for time to recover their position and have the skills to execute it.

Level 2 positioning still centers on the player’s self-awareness, but now they’re more capable of making tactical decisions to safeguard or regain their position.

Level 3: Advanced

At this stage, players become more aware of their surroundings on the court. The key difference from level 2 is that they can instantly identify the positions of their rivals and partner. Based on this, they make decisions to protect their partner and put pressure on their opponents.

What distinguishes this category is that players don’t necessarily wait for the ball in their position; they might intentionally move a step or two inward. Furthermore, their perception and reaction time are far superior to players in levels 1 and 2.

Level 4: Professional

In the elite category, players possess exceptional perception and intuition. Their optimal positions are relatively large, and they have the skills to move around the court without compromising themselves or their partners. They can play effectively from almost anywhere on the court, making position changes dynamic while maintaining a high level of performance.

Conclusion:

Often, players aspire to play at higher position levels without having the necessary skills. For instance, you might see advanced players attempting level 4 positions or intermediate players frequently stepping in and losing their position without the skills to anticipate.

Remember, your position is the foundation of your game, and you should determine your skill level and adapt your position category accordingly.