After becoming interested in sporting origins of players padel, we are going to dive into the heart of a new subject: the question of gender padel. This notion is very well known in the world of sport and we see it in particular with the numerous debates on gender equality...

A strong male representation

From the start of the investigation, the first interviews conducted with club leaders padel and the FFT figures left no doubt about male representation in the padel in France and on the territory of Orléans.

First of all at the local level, the Orléans clubs have approached the gender issue differently within their sports policy. We recense 65% men among people with a customer account on 4PADEL d'Orléans and the management of the center confides to us that in fact men are the most represented in general and above all are the most regular customers, including a group of around twenty men who would come to play almost every day. At Let Padel, Quentin and Victor De La Selle have an even clearer vision with an estimate based on 90% men among their customers. The phenomenon of recurrence of certain customers is also highlighted.

The questionnaire passed to 202 players of padel reports an average of the estimates of the data collected at the two clubs. Among the 202 responses to the questionnaire, we find 163 men for 39 women which represents a percentage of 80% men.

Histogram representative of the male/female distribution of respondents

It is difficult for the FFT to identify the male/female distribution of football players. padel Parts and accessories a practitioner is not necessarily licensed and does not necessarily have a customer account allowing them to be counted as practicing. This is also why the number of practitioners of padel of 500 in 000 is just one rough estimation.

To give a gender distribution, the members of the federation will then base themselves on the competitive licensees, with the support of the monthly federal ranking which is public data. We looked at these files for the month of February 2024. We then count 52 men et 8 040 women, for a total of 60 competitors in France. Among the latter, we therefore find 86,8% men compared to 13,2% women.

We therefore observe a strong majority of men among the practitioners of padel, whether in the field of investigation or at the national level where more than 80% of practitioners are men. We also notice that The further we get into a competitive practice, the more this gap widens.

The development of padel female

The latest findings then raise the question of the role of the actors of the padel in promoting the practice among women, a poorly represented public according to the figures. If we will quickly return to this presence of women within the clubs of padel of the Orléans metropolitan area, we focus here on the way in which clubs and federal authorities implement actions to attract this audience.

We noticed on the figures provided by the 4PADEL Orléans and the Let Padel that the distribution was still different in the two clubs. The Let Padel estimated at 10% the share of women among its customers while 4PADEL announcement 35% of women.

We observe a totally different design between the two clubs with 4PADEL who invests above all for the competitors, where the Let Padel is more in the perspective of leisure practice. It should also be noted that there are few women in the padel with fairly telling figures, which could explain an unequal female presence depending on the clubs in a territory.

Indeed, there can be groups of women who can be friends in life or in the case of the group of 4PADEL who knows about playing tennis. The latter then naturally group together in the same club to play together.. We can assume that the low number of women does not allow for an identical share in each club. padel.

We then questioned Nicolas Le about the social profile of the women present within the 4PADEL Orléans-Fleury. He then notices a relatively young average age in her group of competitors including students and an age ranging from Approximately 19 to 30 years old. Nicolas adds that older women are almost all oriented towards leisure activities and practice padel to stay physically fit.

At the professional level, the women of the club are some students, others tennis teachers, and we also find two physiotherapists and an osteopath. This speech allows us to put forward the hypothesis of a padel essentially young women in competition, and who are heading towards a padel leisure with age.

Jérôme Arnoux directs a survey of listeners of Padel Magazine and the 197 responses testify to a female craze forplayful aspect of padel,club atmosphere, friendliness. In addition, the investigation carried out on practitioners of padel de Limoges notes that women are more sensitive to elements like the conditions of practice, comfort and the fact ofbe supervised by a coach.

In this same study, Jérôme Arnoux questions the 197 women in his survey on what would slow down their investment in the padel. The latter then agree on several criteria which would constrain their practice of padel, Namely of prices too high, a course offering padel too weak, a strong difference in level between women, or a very masculine mentality of sport.

We therefore see here that depending on the territory and even depending on each club in the same territory, the expectations of women can be completely different and it is a question of the clubs adopting an adapted policy.

The role of the FFT in promoting padel female

The FFT's commitment to the development of padel feminine has been active since the launch of the “ mission padel » in 2021 with Arnaud Di Pasquale to his direction. Marianne Vandaele, one of the best players in padel in France, is also named responsible for padel women at the FFT. After a few months of reflection with her team, she implemented actions in each region of France, including discovery days of padel dedicated to women.

She also returns to her mission and the actions implemented duringan interview for Padel Magazine in 2023. , stating: “ We started in January 2022. We took stock of the situation and implemented actions for the development of the padel feminine, but the target was really initiation, that is to say introducing the practice to women who have never played it because there are not enough practitioners at the moment . So here, in PACA, we are still well off, but it is true that if we go elsewhere, it is perhaps less the case.

We propose these actions in the clubs which are interested and which are motivated to have many more practitioners. At the beginning of last year, we were the ones proposing and it worked so well that it is the clubs that call me now. It's really encouraging because it means that the clubs want to invest in the padel feminine. The objective that we have defined for this year, but which will be a little more in the long term, would be to reach 30% of female licensees, like in tennis, because here we are a little less, approximately 15-16% ».

In this speech, Marianne Vandaele then gives an objective in terms of figures. We can now say, with the figures in our possession, that the objective has not been achieved. Recently, Marianne Vandaele embarked on an international career and will then carry out her mission of developing padel feminine in parallel. She expresses the need to increase the number of practitioners through initiation and therefore a leisure practice.

We thus see that the FFT focuses on a leisure practice for women, but does not neglect the competitive part with the creation of a high-level manager position that Benjamin Tison (French number 1) has occupied the position since the start of the 2024 school year. The latter has already announced that it wishes to provide the necessary means for the training of young male and female talents with the creation of a national training center.

Thus, the question of gender in padel is current. If the success of padel among men seems to be unanimous, the issue that can be identified here for the clubs is to participate in the development of the female practice of padel by responding to the different motivations specific to this audience. The FFT also leads a policy of densification of the number of female players padel in France.

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.