THE DEFENSE IN PADEL – INTRODUCTION
We would all like to finish points quickly and decisively, with a x3 or x4 smash. Being fast, relentless, and sending the message to the opponent of “Here I am”. However, the reality is that most points in a match are not like that. And despite the fact that most players don’t like to have to defend, the truth is that having the defense in padel can help us, and a lot. It can even be key to winning some matches.
Therefore, the defence is something we must work on conscientiously to improve our level as players.
At first, although it is not entirely true, we could say that defensive players are those who are at the back of the court, since from this position, it is very difficult to win a point.
To be a good defensive player, aside from obviously having a decent level of technical skills, it is very important to know what to do (tactics) with each ball according to the situation in which we find ourselves. Many times, the problem is not in not knowing how to do the shots, but in not knowing how to execute them when and where it is appropriate.
TIPS ON HOW TO DEFEND WELL
– Correct court positioning when defending.
As a general reference they say that we should position ourselves at the point on the court where, stretching out our arm, we touch both the back wall and the side wall. This point also coincides with the point where the joints of the glass of most courts meet.
But as we will see in the next point, this position is changeable.
– Know how to recalculate and update the generic placement.
There is no doubt that the points in padel are very dynamic and changing, so we must constantly recalculate and update our position on the court depending on how the point evolves. So, for example, if the attackers hit a ball to my partner very close to the glass, I will have to move my standard position more towards the centre to cover the gap in the middle of the court.
– Active attitude.
It is essential to maintain a dynamic attitude during the point, especially if we foresee that the ball is going to be hit to us.
We must be in movement, for example, jumping up and down with our legs semi-flexed or on our toes in order to be able to react quickly and get to the ball soon and moving in sync with our partner.
This attitude will also help us psychologically, ensuring our concentration and attention on the game.
– Position and attitude when the ball is not hit to us.
In this case, for example, when they hit a lob to our partner or when we are recieving the ”freeze out’‘, the position can be a little more relaxed than the previous one.
It is necessary to always be aware and attentive to the game, but we can’t be under maximum tension every second of the point. The reason is because a match is not going to last 30 minutes, so we should reserve our energy when possible in order to be able to display peaks of maximum performance when the situation really requires it. If we intend to play at 100% in every second of every point, our physique is going to suffer sooner or later.
– Where to look when I’m not playing.
A very common mistake in beginner players is to always keep their eyes on the ball. This means that when they hit the ball to their partner, there is no one looking at the opponents, so if they change position, we would not notice and we would not be able to warn our partner who is going to hit what is happening.
For this reason, when the ball is not coming to us, we should always look forward to keep track of what our opponents are doing at all times.
– Padel bat in front of us and short preparation.
Padel strokes are usually short, but in the case of defending, this is even more important as almost always when they attack us they will do it with fast balls and from the net, so we will have very little time until the ball comes to us.
The height of the preparation will depend on the height of the rebound of the ball off the glass, that is to say, if the ball rebounds high, our preparation should also be high.
– Padel bat low and low body position.
When they attack us, most of the time our opponents will try to play balls as low and flat as possible and with a slice spin. That is why it is very important to stay low and have the padel bat low to get underneath the ball and be able to lift it.
– Having a good reading of the ball
Knowing how to read the ball means taking into account different things, such as where and how your ball has gone, what level your opponent is, where he/she is on the court, etc.This way, you will be able to anticipate where it is going to go and what your opponents shot will be. This, logically, can be of great help, as it would allow us to anticipate and prepare for the shot our opponent is going to hit. However, having this ability will depend a lot on whether we have been taught how to read the ball and on our previous experience. The person who has been playing for the longest time does not necessarily have a better reading of the ball.
THE DEFENSE IN PADEL – WHAT SHOTS TO PLAY
Surely, the star shot in defense is the lob. However, this does not mean that we should always hit a lob whenever we find ourselves defending. In fact, we must not forget that the lob is a shot with quite a bit of risk, as if we don’t execute it well and it falls short, we will be giving our opponent an easy ball to finish the point comfortably, and if we hit it too long, we will hit the ball against the glass and lose the point.
Therefore, just like with the other shots, if we are not sure that we can execute a good lob, it’s better to hit low, since it will be harder for our opponent to win the point with a volley if we don’t give them a comfortable height to volley at.
When we play low while defending, the best shots are the cross-court or center shots, since they are safer and have less risk than the parallel shots.
Another valid option could be to hit a quick shot to the body of the opponent. If the ball goes right in the middle of the opponent’s body, even if they don’t miss it, they won’t be able to hit the volley with much power or have a great angle.
Lastly, it’s important to add that to be a good defender, it’s also fundamental to master all the shots that involve the walls (back wall, double wall, side wall…), since while we are defending, it will be almost impossible for the ball not to bounce off the walls. Moreover, if we know how to play with the walls and let the ball bounce off the glass, we will be gaining some time.
THE AIM WHEN DEFENDING
The ultimate goal when we are defending is to regain the net and take the initiative of the point. But of course, this is not an easy task when our opponents are attacking us, so before achieving this goal, what we will seek is to make our shots uncomfortable or difficult for the opponent to hit, so that it is not easy for them to continue on the offensive and thus wait until we have the opportunity to regain the net and initiative.
According to a study, professional padel matches (WPT) are won more by points won (hits) than by mistakes made. More precisely, the winners of WPT matches have a ratio of 3/1 in winners/misses, that is, for every mistake they make, they manage to make 3 winning shots.
However, as we move down the levels (not all of us are WPT players!), this ratio changes to the complete opposite, so we can say that from beginner to at least intermediate level, the pairing who make the least mistakes, win most matches.
Become a #DifferentLevel defender: HERE