Whether you’re new to the sport or have been playing Padel for a while, you might find yourself confused by some of the jargon and technical padel terms.
But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered!
In this comprehensive glossary, we’ll walk you through all the common padel terms, from general phrases to specific technical words, helping you understand and speak the language of padel like a pro.
Basic Padel Terms
- Padel: Let’s start with the basics. Padel is a racket sport that combines elements of tennis and squash. It is played on an enclosed court surrounded by walls.
- Court: The playing area of padel, usually 10 meters wide and 20 meters long, surrounded by glass or mesh walls.
- Walls: The glass or mesh walls enclosing the court, which players can use to bounce the ball during play.
- Doubles: Padel is typically played in pairs, with two players on each team. This format is called doubles.
- Singles: In contrast to doubles, singles padel involves one player on each team, making it a one-on-one game.
- Padel Bag: A bag specifically designed to carry padel equipment, including paddles, balls, towels, and other accessories.
- Padel Court Shoes: Specialised shoes with non-marking soles designed to provide traction on the padel court while protecting its surface.
Rules and Scoring Terms
- Fault: A mistake made during the serve, such as hitting the net or serving outside the correct area, resulting in a point for the opposing team.
- Let: If the ball hits the net during a serve but still lands inside the correct service area, the serve is replayed.
- Deuce: When the score is tied at 40-40, it’s referred to as a deuce. The next point after deuce is called an advantage.
- Advantage: When one team wins the point after deuce, they gain the advantage. If they win the next point, they win the game. If they lose the point, it goes back to deuce.
- Advantage-Server: When the serving team has the advantage in a game, it is referred to as “Advantage-Server.”
- Love: In padel, “love” means zero points. For example, “15-love” means one player has 15 points while the other has none.
- Golden Point: In some cases, a game may be decided by a golden point, where the winner of the next point wins the game.
- Tie-Break: If a set is tied at a certain number of games, a tie-break is played to determine the winner of the set.
- Smash-out: When a player hits the ball out of the court, missing the target area and losing the point.
- Foot Fault: When a player’s foot touches or crosses over the service line during the serve, resulting in a fault.
- Cuatro: Spanish for “four.” It refers to the situation where a team has scored four points in a game, also known as “40-love” or “4-0.”
- Two Bounce Rule: In some variations of padel rules, a player must allow the ball to bounce twice before hitting it if the ball hasn’t touched a wall or the net.
- Umpire: Referee of the game. Typically sat on an elevated platform for a clearer view of the match.
Basic Types of Shots
- Serve: The first shot in a point, where a player hits the ball into the opponent’s court to initiate play.
- Forehand: A shot executed on the dominant side of the body, typically with the forehand grip.
- Backhand: A shot executed on the non-dominant side of the body, typically with the backhand grip.
- Smash: A powerful overhead shot used when the ball is above net level, intended to hit the ball with force into the opponent’s court.
- Volley: Hitting the ball before it bounces on the ground. Volleys are common in padel due to the enclosed smaller court.
- Lob: A high shot that goes over the opponent’s head, often used to catch them off guard or to defend against a smash.
- Drop Shot: A soft, delicate shot that aims to land just after the net and bounce twice before the opposing player can return it.
- Crosscourt: Hitting the ball diagonally across the court, often used to create angles and open up the opponent’s court.
- Slice: A shot with backspin, causing the ball to bounce lower and slower, making it harder for the opponent to return.
Advanced Padel Shot Terms
- Drive: A powerful shot hit with force and speed, aimed at keeping the opponent on the defensive.
- Half-Volley: A challenging shot where the player hits the ball just after it bounces off the ground. It requires excellent timing and control.
- Slice Volley: A volley shot executed with backspin, causing the ball to skid and stay low after bouncing.
- Smash Down the Line: A powerful smash aimed straight down the sideline of the opponent’s court, making it hard to defend.
- Approach Shot: A strategic shot hit to set up a volley or overhead smash, often played as the player advances towards the net.
- Reception: The return of serve, typically hit deep to start the point.
- Vibora: A signature shot in padel, the Vibora (Viper) is a quick and deceptive angled shot executed near the net. The ball travels parallel to the side wall, making it challenging for opponents to react and return the ball effectively.
- Bandeja: The Bandeja is a technique used to hit a high-bouncing ball. This shot involves hitting the ball with an open-faced paddle, sending it deep into the opponent’s court to gain control of the point.
- Chiquita: Also known as the “little one,” the Chiquita is a finesse shot executed with a soft touch. Players use this shot to lift the ball over the net and land it close to the opponent’s feet, making it difficult for them to counterattack.
- Gancho: A shot that involves slicing the ball with sidespin, causing it to curve and bounce unpredictably.
- Globo: The “lob” shot in Spanish, used to send the ball high and deep into the opponent’s court, often as a defensive tactic.
- Reves: Spanish for “backhand.”
- Volea: Spanish for “volley,” the act of hitting the ball in mid-air before it bounces on the ground.
- Bajada: A fast and low shot, aimed at keeping the ball close to the ground and making it difficult for the opponent to return.
- Cut Shot: A shot played with an open-faced paddle, causing the ball to roll along the side wall with backspin.
- Tachuela: A soft and delicate shot, typically a drop shot, that barely clears the net and lands close to it.
- Contrapared: A defensive shot played off the back wall to return a difficult ball.
- Salida de Pared: A shot played off the side wall, often used to create angles and confuse opponents.
- Vibora Liftada: An advanced version of the Vibora shot with topspin, causing the ball to rise sharply after hitting the ground.
- Globo Salida: A lob shot played as the player moves backward from the net.
- Remate: The Spanish term for a smash or overhead shot.
- Encadenado: A series of shots played consecutively and skillfully to gain control of the point.
We discuss these shots in more detail in our Padel Shots Guide.
Types of Grip
- Padel Grip: The grip wrapped around the handle of the padel paddle, providing players with better control and stability.
- Padel Overgrip: A thin grip that players wrap over the base grip to enhance comfort and absorb sweat during intense play.
- Glove Grip: A grip style in which the player holds the paddle like they are wearing a glove, enhancing wrist movement.
- Semi-Western Grip: A grip technique where the player holds the paddle slightly to the right (for right-handers) of the standard grip, facilitating topspin shots.
Other Padel Terms
- Footwork: The movement and positioning of a player’s feet to reach the ball efficiently and maintain balance during play.
- Smash Defense: The technique used to defend against a powerful smash from the opponent.
- Poach: In doubles padel, a player “poaches” when they move toward the centre of the court to intercept the ball hit by the opponent’s partner.
- No Man’s Land: The area on the court located between the service line and the net. It’s called “no man’s land” because it can be challenging to effectively hit balls from this area.
- Ducking: When players crouch down to avoid being hit by an opponent’s powerful shot.
- Palas: Spanish for “paddles,” referring to the equipment used to play padel.
- Wall Game: A style of play that involves using the walls to control the ball and set up shots.
- Slams: Refers to tournaments or championships in padel, similar to “Grand Slams” in tennis.
Since the sport is still developing, we’ll be sure to add any new padel terms that crop up here!