Rules of padel can be confusing, especially if it’s your first time to play padel. Determining valid or invalid shots, and understanding the point system, is difficult.
But, knowing the rules governing padel courts helps avoid errors and penalties.
This article will teach you to determine valid points and playable balls.
The ball bounces off the glass, or was it off the ground first?
Official padel rules include how you can consider if the ball is in or out.
Two things you should know are:
- The ball is out if it hits the glass first
- The ball is in if it bounces off the ground first
However, the ball can hit the angle between the wall and the ground. It’s called an egg ball or “huevo” in Spanish.
In a situation like this, you must look at the trajectory and spin to know if it’s in or out.
If the ball springs at an angle higher than when it came in, the player likely hit the ball off the ground first.
When a normal ball comes in at waist level and leaps an angle higher than the waist, it’s considered a valid ball.
However, if the ball rebounds at the knee or ankle level, the ball likely hit the glass first.
The ball’s spin as it rebounds off the surface is another indicator.
When the player hits the glass, it will likely go forward towards the net with an intense top spin.
But, a ball that hits the ground first will create a backspin. This slows the ball down while moving at a higher trajectory.
If it hits the side glass in a huevo situation
It’s hard to see the spin at a return position. Hence, you can only rely on the trajectory.
You can tell if the ball hit the side glass if it bounced towards your knee or ankle. But if it bounced like normal, it likely hit the ground first.
If it hits the fence, also called a pico situation
Another difficult situation to judge a ball’s validity is when the ball strikes the fence or “pico.”
The ball’s trajectory is still a good indicator. If the ball immediately shoots off towards the middle of the padel court, it’s likely to hit the fence first.
But, if it hits the ground, it should bounce slightly higher. However, there are situations where the ball would rebound from the ground, hit the fence, and roll towards the middle.
Securing good service is important because this is where the point starts. Be aware of things to avoid during service.
We (our pair) serve, and the ball bounces more than one time in the receiver’s service box
A valid service takes place when you cross the ball to your opponent’s service box on your left side.
If the ball bounces off your opponent’s ground twice, your team wins the point. The receiver shouldn’t allow the ball to bounce twice before returning it.
We serve but step over the “imaginary central line”
You are NOT ALLOWED to step on the imaginary line at the center of the court.
Proceed to your second serve if the incident happened during your first serve. But your team loses a point if it’s already in the second service.
My opponents jump when they serve to get movement to the net faster
The server should keep at least one foot on the ground while serving. Hence, jumping during service is considered a bad serve.
When serving, we bounce the ball inside the box
The server cannot cross the center or service line or step into the boxed service area. Hence, bouncing the ball inside the box is considered a foul.
You should, however, let the ball bounce once before serving.
Our serve bounced on the serving line or the center line of the opposing court
If the ball bounced on your opponent’s court’s serving or center line, it’s still considered a valid point.
A point is invalid if the ball served touches the fence or wall first or if the ball went beyond the receiver’s box (service box).
When returning the ball, ensure that you direct it towards its natural exit by using the same movement you’d normally do when playing.
But, there are technicalities you need to consider involving equipment and gameplay.
I run towards the net to return a ball but accidentally touch the net
Players are not allowed to touch the net. Hence, touching the net is considered foul play even if it was an accidental touch.
My team is in attacking position on the net. We hit the ball while our racket is on our opponents’ side of the court
There are two considerations in instances like this:
- If the ball crossed your side of the court and rebounded back to your opponent’s court, the ball is PLAYABLE.
- If the ball has not yet crossed your side of the court and you returned the ball, the point is INVALID.
When is it OK to touch the fence?
You’re only allowed to touch the fence IF you’re allowed to do an out-of-court play. But, note that you can only touch your side of the fence.
Touching the fence of your opponents would cause you to lose a point. The same applies if you jump to return the ball and accidentally hit their fence.
Instead of hitting the ball, I “carry/drive/sweep it” (also known as “double touch”)
Carrying or a “double touch” is considered foul. You are NOT ALLOWED to hit the ball twice on your side of the court.
Your opponent smashes, the ball bounces on your side and goes up to rebound from the fence at the back of the court, above the glass
It’s a valid point, given that the ball leaped on the ground before rebounding from the fence.
The same rule applies when the ball gets stuck on the flat horizontal surface of the fence.
I hit a high lob; the ball hits the ceiling (or another external object)
Hitting the ceiling is known as a “globo” in Spanish. In such cases, the point is awarded to your opponents, given that you committed an invalid shot.
The same rule applies when your high lob hits floodlights or another object located outside the game area.
The ball hits the net post and then bounces back in on our opponent’s court
It’s valid even if the ball touches the net posts BEFORE bouncing towards the opponent’s court.
However, there are instances where players play a let ball. These situations include:
- A ball in play hits the net or posts and falls within the receiver’s box
- A ball touches the net or posts and touches any of the opposing team’s body
- A ball splits during play
Our opponents dropped the ball from their pocket and asked to play the point again
When your opponent drops a ball from their pocket, they are allowed to play a let ball. In this case, the player can ask to repeat the play, and the play continues.
Frequently Asked Questions
In playing padel tennis, there are different ways to determine a good and invalid point. You can refer to the ground rules for padel matches by the International Padel Federation (IPF). These rules are also followed by World Padel Tour players.
You should only bounce the ball once. The second bounce can be on the back glass or fence to make it playable.
In or out padel tennis balls can be determined if the ball hit the ground or glass first.
Players SHOULD NOT touch the net. However, touching the net accidentally is not penalized if the ball has already bounced on the opponents’ court area.
Yes, you are allowed to hit floating balls or volleys. However, it’s invalid if you hit a volley BEFORE it crosses the opposing team’s net.
Touching the ball simultaneously or twice is NOT ALLOWED.
You are NOT ALLOWED to hit the fence. It’s only accepted if the ball touched the ground first.
Backhand service is acceptable. Points begin after a valid serve is made.
Determining a valid padel point might be difficult at first. However, the point system is equally important as knowing padel techniques.
There will always be dubious points, and players trying to win those points by talking opponents over; remember to think about the spin and the trajectory!
It helps you secure points and avoid errors during your matches.
Lucas Sánchez is the founder of SimplePadel. Born and raised in Spain, Lucas has been living in the US and UK for the last 20 years and currently calls Miami his home. While he’s never played professionally, the dream is still alive.
Lucas loves nothing more than playing (and talking) about padel, and he considers himself lucky to have a wife and family that share his love for the game.