With the 2022 Padel World Championships in Dubai about to kick off this week, it’s clear that padel tennis continues its explosive growth around the globe. The big question mark in the professional sport is being played out in an ongoing rumpus between several official bodies: the Estrella Damm-owned World Padel Tour (WPT), the Federación Internacional de Pádel (FIP, which oversees the national federations), Premier Padel (which organizes a parallel tour to the WPT) and the Professional Players Association (PPA). Read this Padel Paper write-up if you’d like to know more. The legal actions and competing circuits reflect the teething pains of the sport. I have no prediction for how these will play out, but I will certainly continue to enjoy watching the highly entertaining sport online, if I can’t attend in person (I attended WPT tournament in Miami and the Premier Padel at Roland Garros in Paris this year). In this post, meanwhile, I’m going to concentrate on the growth of the sport around the world, providing an update of my article from 2021 about the number of padel tennis courts in the world.
Growth in padel tennis is country-by-country
Padel is now played in over 100 countries and there are exactly 50 national padel federations according to the FIP. If padel is a hot commodity, the growth varies by country. In the UK, Gentleman’s Quarterly, in its June 2022 issue, wrote that “padel is set to be the biggest fitness trend of the summer.” If the LTA was projecting a couple of years ago that there’d be 400 courts in Britain by the end of 2021, this forecast has now been pushed out to 2023 (source). Reality is harder and slower in the UK (planning permissions, supply logistics, financing, weather?…). We’re about to eclipse 200 courts here, but it’s true that the buzz is everywhere and coverage in the press has gone mainstream (The Telegraph, The Times, BBC…)! Growth rates and saturation are very different from one country to another. The reasons for the different rates of growth will depend on things like the climate, the number of celebrities who are taking it up, finding the right business model, access to good pros, and competing activities (e.g. pickleball in the US). Overall, apparently, there are now over 25 million people around the world playing padel [Source: PadelFIP]. In 2021, there were 15,000 new padel courts registered in Europe [Source]. The top country in the world is, by far and away, Spain, which will likely stay that way for some time, including the Spanish dominance on the professional tour.
Padel is trending online
Certainly Google Trends shows how padel is in lift-off mode. Below is the online trend for the query “padel” worldwide since 2004.
So, how many padel courts are there in the world (by country)?
In my continuing obsession with padel, I’ve been tracking where and how fast padel tennis is growing around the world. I’ve personally been able to play the game in over ten countries, including Colombia, Panama, France, England, Isle of Jersey, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Turks & Caicos, Switzerland, Italy, Dominican Republic, and the United States. Obviously, I’ve got to get to Argentina and Sweden soon! As I wrote before, I’m pretty loco for padel: Have Padel, Will Play, but I might update the title now to: Have Travel, Will Padel. I tend to take my padel gear wherever I go these days (my wife will surely raise her eyebrows if she reads this 😜). So, here’s the latest on the number of padel courts by country, updated with the best available information. (I have cited all my sources in this Google Spreadsheet).
The numbers reported for each country can vary enormously. For Spain, the most reliable source I have said that it’s “more than 15,200,” but I believe it’s really over 20,000. For Argentina (the land of Viviana Corcuera as my father documented in TheBandeja), back in the 1980s there were purportedly 30,000 courts, but that was before the economic troubles and the fact that the courts became standardized and more sophisticated. I’ve read numbers as high as 10,000 courts currently in Argentina. However, I’ve chosen a somewhat more conservative number that encompasses the modern court dimensions and walls. The USA is a wildcard. Presently at under 200 courts, the prospects are potentially explosive. I read that “the USPA is forecasting exponential growth based on the uptake of the sport it has seen in other countries. It expects there will be 25,000 to 30,000 courts with 8 to 10 million people playing in the US by 2029.” (QZ Source) With folks like the consultancy Deloitte publishing information about padel tennis, you have to believe that padel is bound to continue to grow massively. I read a forecast for 67,000 courts by 2026 (source). As and when I get better numbers, I’ll update this Google spreadsheet.
Let me know if you have any better stats in the comments. I’d also love to read about your particular padel stories.