In a series of articles, we are going to share with you parts of the research dissertation devoted to the development of padel de Paul Dornberger. This amateur player carried out extensive study work in April 2024 as part of his Masters in Sports Management at the UFR STAPS in Nantes.

To begin this series, we present to you one of the topics that Paul explores in his research paper: the favorable context of the post-Covid period for the exponential growth of padel.

A changing time for sport

At the end of 2019, China was the victim of the spread of a virus which was quickly transmitted from territory to territory and throughout the world: the COVID-19 crisis. In France, this health crisis has taken on a large scale, prompting political intervention. Indeed, following an exponential increase in the number of cases in France, the President Emmanuel Macron made the decision to implement a confinement of the population on March 17, 2020 in order to limit social interactions and therefore the risk of contamination.

It is mainly this social aspect which is interesting here. During this period we observe a restriction of the social life of the population, who must then live isolated at home, only opening herself to the outside world through precise and regulated proof. This process of social distancing has been talked about in the field of sport. Sports infrastructures found themselves closed,sporting events canceled, sanctioned outdoor sports groups.

The cessation of the sporting life of the population has impacted institutions with put to sleep of the activity of sports associations and commercial structures during this long period. In May 2020, the CNOSF summarized the impact of the crisis on the sporting field. The figures are therefore interesting and show to what extent the practice of physical and sporting activity has become more complex. These are therefore “ 76% of associations and 50% of commercial organizations » who stopped their activity.

We then wonder here if the confinement and sporting restrictions caused by the Covid-19 health crisis also had the consequence a transformation of sporting desires Population. If some enthusiasts have remained faithful to their favorite sport(s), others have discovered other forms of practice in which they wanted to continue their path.

Le padel, a new way of practicing sports

This period gave way to the diffusion of innovative practices, popular abroad and which became even more integrated into this social context, as padel. Indeed, following confinement, the sporting desires of practitioners are moving towards less traditional practices and the popularity of padel experienced a boom during this period in Spain, which meant that the sport became more widespread in France and more generally in the world in the aftermath of the crisis.

But then, it is legitimate to ask why the padel didn't become popular earlier? Or even why the padel has become democratized even though it is a sport that could not be practiced during the health crisis?

Le padel, in the aftermath of this crisis, is a sporting discipline that met the new expectations of athletes by its main qualities: conviviality, accessibility, fun… From 2015, Patrick Mignon (author of “ Point of reference – Sports practice in France: developments, structuring and new trends ") tells us about the rise of new search criteria for athletes : well-being, personal balance and sociability. We must therefore believe that in a context of crisis where sociability has been considerably reduced, this research criterion has strongly developed with the resumption of physical and sporting activity in France.

This is also what we can see in the responses to the survey questionnaire given to practitioners in the Orléans metropolitan area where the criteria for practicing padel the most reported are the fun and spectacular appearance (85,1%) but also friendliness (79,2%). We note that sociability is cited by half of the respondents.

Historiogram Paul Dornberger Post-Covid Period

If we push the place of padel in the context of Covid-19, Padel Magazine published a study by Lorenzo Lecci Lopez demonstrating that le padel could be an anti-covid sport. The Covid crisis has affected the mental health of athletes, and the padel, with the qualities known to him would have benefits in this area: the fight against isolation, anxiety and depression.

The factors of growth of padel

Despite a complicated context, the Monitor Deloitte firm is taking stock in 2023 of what has enabled, according to them, in the aftermath of the health crisis, to ensure the good development of the padel. First of all, the purchasing power of households in sport would have remained stable and sports spending would even increase by 8% per year.

In addition, we observe the evolution of sporting practices which are modernizing and an increasingly developed media coverage of events. Thus, the report notes that in 2023, three out of four French people practice a sport, half of them at least once a week. We therefore have here proof of a revival of sporting practice in France following the Covid period which is beneficial for the development of young sports such as padel.

The study then distinguishes several growth factors of padel as the strong interest of tennis players, the sociability of the practice, visibility increased by public figures, or the importance of private actors.

Paul Dornberger

In a series of articles, Paul Dornberger shares his research devoted to the development of padel. This confirmed player in France carried out extensive study work in April 2024 as part of his Master in Sports Management at the UFR STAPS in Nantes.