When you have a choice between tennis and padel as a beginner, the choice is usually based on a single simple question.
Is padel easier than tennis? Padel is fundamentally an easier sport to learn and play. The short-handled racket makes ball control easier in padel. The lack of an overhead service in padel means that an absolute beginner can enjoy a game without specialist lessons.
This very common question is one that we need to unpack on many levels so that we can get a definitive answer as to which of these two sports is easier.
There is an element that makes padel somewhat easier than tennis, and it is the greater physicality and impact that tennis demands. We need to take into account the size of the area that you also cover on your side of the court in tennis. Not only are the marked dimensions of the court wider and longer, but you need to cover areas outside of the lines too.
Having a high level of physical fitness is essential to be able to perform in tennis and the technical skills used also take longer to learn than in padel. This usually results in a beginner spending a large amount of time retrieving wayward tennis balls.
When you are learning the basic fundamentals of tennis, you will soon notice how the technique required for hitting the ball and playing the service are the key elements to winning points and thereby a game. On the other hand, in padel it will be more about your tactics as a team that will prove decisive.
With that being said, don’t underestimate the complexity of padel in its own way. Because a padel ball bounces lower than a tennis ball, you will play many of your shots relatively closer to the ground. This requires more in terms of lower body strength and flexibility.
Is Playing Doubles Easier
This is one of the main reasons that padel has the reputation of being easier than tennis.
Basically, in padel you will have much longer rallies than in tennis. It is not at all unusual to see rallies in a padel match go to 60 shots or even longer.
Given that padel is played as doubles on a court about a third smaller than a tennis singles court the players are able to cover a much larger area resulting in way fewer winners being played that can kill a point quickly.
If you move well with your partner as I showed you how to do in this article about moving as a pair on the court, your game will improve as will your chances of winning.
For this reason, the tactic of synchronicity is essential between teammates.
Conversely, in Tennis, each player takes responsibility for what happens. By that, I mean that tennis is more commonly played as singles. As a singles player you are solely responsible for what happens on your side of the court.
What I noticed when I used to play tennis that this mindset transferred to the doubles game. Each of us had our area of the court, either net or baseline. We would be solely responsible for our area of the court.
It was something that required adaptation when I made the switch to playing padel.
Power vs. Control
One of the first things you will notice between padel and tennis when it comes to working out which one is easier is that their respective rackets look very different.
The long-handle stringed racket in tennis is designed to help you generate more power every time you hit the ball. The short-handle padel racket with its semi-solid face sacrifices most of the power of a tennis racket in favor of far greater ball control.
This is a good thing too. Because a padel court is so much smaller than a tennis court it will be near impossible to keep from hitting the ball out, were you to use a tennis racket on a padel court.
This greater ball control that you get from a padel racket is primarily what makes padel easier to play especially when you are a beginner.
Which Is Quicker To Learn
From my perspective this is a complete no-brainer that padel is far quicker to learn than tennis.
I can remember all those tedious hours of hitting a tennis ball against a wall. Then there were the baskets and baskets of balls that were used to practice my tennis service to a level where I could at least get the ball to go in about half the time.
Even after all of this my tennis level hardly lifted above dismal. I can remember losing more than a few service games by playing 4 consecutive double faults.
By comparison, padel was a way quicker sport to learn. The short-handle padel racket was much easier to use and having no complex overhead service was an added bonus. At least it was for me. I was able to actually play a game of padel on my first day at the court.
If you just want to enjoy a game on the court without being hindered by specialist training and practice especially the many hours to learn the service, then the best option of the two will be to take up Padel.
The degree of physical intensity will largely depend on how you are playing the game. Bear in mind that in padel you will be playing much longer rallies as opposed to tennis that involves explosive, faster movement in points that are usually much shorter. From this perspective, it is not that one is necessarily more of an intense effort than the other.
In my experience, the more explosive nature of tennis, with all the start/stop movement tends to take a toll on my knees and ankles.
In padel, the long rallies can get really training even though I m moving slower. If I don’t stay on top of my hydration, especially during the hotter summer months, calf muscle cramp becomes an issue.
The Fun Factor
Padel has the reputation of being way more fun to play than tennis, especially for beginners.
As a beginner tennis player, you will likely hit 3 or 4 shots before needing to run around picking up balls.
Because padel is so much easier to play, even beginners can play longer rallies. This means that most of your court time will be spent actually playing as opposed to picking up wayward balls.
Not only is a padel court a third smaller than a singles tennis court, but the four walls have the effect of reducing the playing area even further.
That makes it much easier to reach the ball when playing padel as opposed to tennis. Even a ball that has gone past you will bounce off the wall and come back to you.
If it is easier to get to the ball on a padel court thanks to the walls and you are using a racket that gives you better control than a tennis racket, then even a beginner will find it much easier to keep a point going.
If your opponent plays a brilliant passing shot against you, that would spell the loss of the point in tennis. In padel, the wall becomes your ally by bringing the ball back to you so that you can continue playing the point.