As every Thursday, Julien Bondia addresses a padel subject and offers tutorials: Technical, tactical, all subjects are spent, topics that you can even propose.
Today, understand his pala. At a time when brands are developing new rackets every year, let's try together to better understand this often Spanish vocabulary.
Understanding the vocabulary applied to palas is important to know the material that we grab on the track. This material is very different between one brand and another, and above all, perceived very differently between one player and another. To help you find your future pala, here is a tutorial that I hope will help you understand the technical vocabulary used by brands.
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The frame: "El marco"
This is the base of your pala. Everything starts from the frame. A rigid frame will deform less quickly and will pose less risk to the life of other components. This rigid frame will affect the ball strikes. It will be found tubular or solid, sometimes doubled, to gain lightness or strength. Several materials are used at the frame level: fiberglass and carbon fiber, although most palas are made of carbon. Why ? Carbon fiber is lighter, stiffer and has a longer life.
The foam: "Espuma"
This is the heart "el corazón" of your pala. The foam is inside the frame, as would the string of a tennis racket. Currently 2 types of foam exist on the market: Eva and polyethylene foam (Foam). Eva foam is much harder, it's a foam that has a longer life and focuses on the control of the ball rather than the big strikes. Over time, the brands have developed Eva Soft foam to keep this life, but also to gain big strikes. The Foam is a very pleasant foam, very flexible, which makes you feel comfortable on the track, puts you forward on every shot, and especially that makes the difference during your smashs. The disadvantage is its short life span and its tendency to deform the racket or crackle.
How to differentiate the two foams? Through the holes of your pala, if the foam is smooth, it is an Eva whereas if you see like bubbles, it is a Foam.
The surface: "The cara"
This is the most worked part of the pala. First of all because it is the visible part and therefore the most aesthetic. Then it is the area that will be in contact with the ball and will suffer the most. With the years, this surface has evolved a lot to offer today a "mixture" and a very complete range of products.
- Carbon fiber, as presented above is a solid, lightweight and rigid material. It is found on many palas, it provides dry and controlled strikes. Today there is carbon fiber braided in several layers (up to 21 layers, 21K) and directions, to increase this strength.
- Fiberglass. Do not leave out because if it has less positive aspects on the frame, it is very effective on the cara. Its flexible side makes it possible to gain in exit of ball, to propose fluent and powerful strikes without forgetting the solidity.
- The cork. We see it appear on the market under the name of Cork. Cork is well known for its flexibility. It is a material that will give you a lot of power.
- Mixtures We now find caras with blends of carbon fiber with fiberglass, aluminized carbon fiber or the insertion of components coming from aeronautics. These mixes, as you can imagine, allow to gain in strength, or to gain rigidity, or to gain in elasticity so that you can opt for the pala most suited to your game.
- Roughness: A rough surface will bring more effect to the ball. It's up to you to see if it's a plus for your game or not.
The impact point: "El punto dulce"
This is the place on the sieve that allows to have an optimum shot. On palas for beginners, this "punto dulce" is expanded to gain precision. The more we go up the range more punto dulce narrows because the players, high level, are able to "center" the ball. On some palas "upscale" the "punto dulce" is voluntarily expand the focus on control of the ball.
The bridge: "El Puente"
This is the part of the pala that lies between the surface and the sleeve. This part is more and more worked by the marks because it transmits the energy from the arm to the surface of the pala, and transmits the vibrations from the surface of the pala to the arm. Pieces are inserted on this part to reduce vibrations.
The handle: "El mango"
More or less long, the handle must be breathable to facilitate the drying of perspiration and comfortable to the touch.
The elements that can be added
Brands are always looking for new technologies that apply to your pala. Weight systems can change the balance of your pala by making it more powerful or more manageable. Pads to be inserted into the holes reduce vibration.
To take into account, a protector of pala is essential. This adhesive is installed on the top of your pala so that during shocks or scratches, it is he who is damaged and not your pala. Finally, grips and overgrips must be part of your everyday life; adapt your sleeve to your hand, gain comfort and wick away perspiration for better grip that will reduce blisters.
For elbow or shoulder problems
Few miracle cures, but know that women's palas are lighter, more flexible and more enjoyable to play. They are perfect for players with this type of problem.
Today we are lucky to be able to choose our pala. Hundreds of brands exist. Thanks to the internet, you can "poke around", look at the features and find the pala that suits your game the most. Now that you know everything, or almost everything, about the construction of the palas, remains to get back on the track.
Julien Bondia is a padel teacher in Tenerife. He is the founder of AvantagePadel.net, a software very appreciated by clubs and padel players. Columnist and advisor, he helps you play better through his many padel tutorials.