Julie and I took a pádel lesson last week in a neighborhood about 2 miles south of us.

Our courts at Rio Arena Our courts at Rio Arena

Pádel is to Spain (and Mexico) as pickleball is to the USA – a rapidly growing paddle sport that is more approachable to most folks than tennis. It also takes up less space so you can fit more courts into a given area.

There’s a great local club called padel4 that encourages beginners to come for a 1 hour lesson, presumably with coaches that speak Spanish and English. We joined another American woman (ex-pat working for Amazon here in Madrid) and a young Sicilian / American man spending at least a year in town teaching English.

Our instructor spoke very little English, but the young man and I were able to converse enough to relay instructions. Plus… so much of the instruction is just watching the coach and repeating. The game is so much fun: I love how rebounds off the walls are in play, and how much lobbing comes into play.

Julie plays one off the wall Julie plays one off the wall

We never got far enough in our learning to play any actual games; in fact we never even got to serving. That’s OK - the feel of the new paddle and ball took a while to get used to, and we both enjoyed learning to play balls that rebound off the back wall. The partner play in pádel is very similar to pickleball in that you try to match your partner depth on the court, only coming to the net when you’ve forced your opponents into making a more challenging shot. I’m sure I’ve oversimplified it, but that’s the idea. We’re taking another lesson this coming week.