Spain is the global model when it comes to developing padel, boasting more than 90% of the courts in Europe and more than 88,000 federated players.
The number of people that practise this sport rises year after year, generating a great deal of interest among fans and players alike at present.
Obviously, when discussing the constant growth of padel, it is essential to begin with Spain. This country boasts the most federated players in the world.
In addition, based on the latest estimated data, more than 4 million people practise it occasionally or habitually.
Unstoppable progress year after year
As of June 2021, according to information published by the Spanish Padel Federation (SPF), there are 88,881 federated players, 838 national coaching licences, 422 national referee judges and 976 federated clubs.
Developments over the recent years have been overwhelming. Licences have jumped from 39,652 in 2012 to 88,881 so far in 2021, a climb of 124% in less than 9 years.
In 2020, there was no increase over the previous year due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the closure of clubs and suspension of competitions.
In terms of licences, the progress of padel in Spain has been unstoppable over the last decade, and the numbers suggest that this upward trend will continue over the coming years.
As noted above, 2020 was the only year since 2012 in which licences did not increase, although this was not because of circumstances related to the sport.
For this reason, halfway through 2021, as normality starts to resume, Spain already has 13,333 more members than in 2020.
Taking a closer look at the statistics, the distribution of licences across genders shows that 67.7% of members are men, while 32.3% are women.
It is also worth taking a look at the age range of the majority of players with an active licence.
According to information from the SPF, 51.4% of players are over 39 years old while 30.4% of the players are aged between 34 and 39.
So perhaps one of the long-term goals of the sport will be to appeal to a younger audience, considering only 5.7% of members are between 19 and 23 years old and 12.5% are younger than 19.
There are estimated to be 11,000 official and private courts registered in around 2,300 sports facilities, according to data from the compilation guide released by Padel Absolute magazine. With these numbers, Spain holds the number one ranking globally.
The data positions Spain as the greatest example of how padel is gaining relevance, but these statistics are also applicable in many other countries.
One enlightening fact is that padel is played on all continents with courts built in 60 countries, some of which are in places like Senegal, Japan, Singapore and Australia, where padel’s popularity doesn’t seem to be very well established.
Padel has a strong foothold in Argentina and several Latin American countries, along with many European nations such as France, Italy, England, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Belgium, all of which have their own federations.
Focusing on Europe, following in Spain’s footsteps are France and Portugal. And in both cases, we’re seeing more growth in professional padel.
France has more than 600 courts across the country, and Portugal is a regular fixture on the World Padel Tour schedule.
When highlighting professionalisation, it’s impossible to ignore Italy, which has more than 500 courts in Rome alone as well as tournaments and leagues on a national scale.
Padel’s rise in Sweden is also not to be ignored. It’s probably the European country where padel is spreading at the fastest rate. The Swedish footballer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, even built his own practice facilities.
Latin American countries are also experiencing a spike in padel’s success. Since the birth of the sport, Argentina has always been one of padel’s main advocates, and its importance continues to the present day. In Brazil, the industry is also growing at an unstoppable rate. Federated tournaments are now there to stay. Brazil has also hosted the World Padel Tour.
Spain’s example serves as inspiration
Among the world’s major powers, Great Britain has probably lagged the furthest behind when it comes to implementing padel. But by 2023, it is expected to quadruple its number of courts to 400, following a strategic plan for padel.
Gaining greater appeal is essential, but that means that both the number of players and the number of courts must increase.
As the website Palco 23 points out, there were only 90 padel courts in Great Britain, spread over 48 clubs and around 6,000 players, as of 31 December 2020.
However, the British are following Spain’s example to lay the groundwork for the sport and to enable a surge in popularity within two years.
According to the numbers we’ve cited, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic and confident about the future of padel. Its global recognition as a mass sport is becoming unquestionable, as is the enthusiasm of its players.
As result of this thriving situation, a goal that is as ambitious as it is attainable has been set: to make padel an Olympic sport for the Paris 2024 Games.