Recently, I started playing Padel Tennis (Padel). As a lifelong racquet sports player, this is an exciting sport that hits my ‘sweet spot.’ Played either indoors or outdoors on an enclosed 20m × 10m court, it is easy to learn and very sociable, as you always play in doubles format. This is a perfect example of an intergenerational activity that brings people together and so I am excited by the opportunity of growing Padel Tennis in the UK.
Padel began internationalising during the 1970s, especially across Spain, where more than 15,000 courts can now be found, equivalent to 323 courts for every one million people. Only Sweden has a higher padel court penetration (402 for every one million people) in a country where around one in every 14 Swedes now plays a padel.
There might be an exciting opportunity to engage more people in a sport with the potential to span different generations. However, this requires careful matching of the appropriate indoor and outdoor infrastructure with people — players, and coaches. A strategic approach is vital to ensure that the proliferation of new Padel facilities does not surpass demand, a reality reflected by the closure of some centres in Sweden, where excessive expansion led to existing centres being cannibalised by newer ones.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an acceleration in the adoption of sports that offer both social connectivity and health benefits. Padel’s rapid expansion is a testament to the shift. What strategic shifts do you think have propelled Padel’s global popularity?
In 2023, with approximately 250 padel courts dotting the UK — a modest four courts per million people — the stage is set for an ambitious expansion. The official recognition of Padel as a tennis discipline by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) as well as becoming recognised as the sport’s national governing body is a significant shift. Under the banner of “Tennis Opened Up”, the LTA aims to dismantle barriers and cultivate a culture where tennis, and by extension Padel, becomes more approachable and widely participated in. This integration within the LTA’s framework has sparked interest across British tennis venues, evaluating how Padel can enhance its offerings. Addressing the challenges of nurturing a less-established sport, the LTA’s development blueprint revolves around six pivotal growth enablers:
Collectively, these enablers are poised to transform the UK’s padel landscape over the next four years, inviting more players and fans to embrace the sport.
I am eager to engage with entrepreneurs and stakeholders in the UK’s Padel industry to discuss potential collaborations and business growth in this exciting sport. If you are interested in driving the Padel movement forward, please contact me for an initial discussion.