Racket sports such as padel are characterized by the repetition of unilateral gestures, which can lead to negative adaptations like asymmetries or overuse musculoskeletal injuries. The purpose of this study was to determine the differences in ball impact positions (i.e., forward or backward of the center of gravity) in nine stroke types in a sample of forty-eight recreational male padel players. The sample included 14,478 shots corresponding to 18 matches from six tournaments. Forty-eight male padel players were classified into two groups according to their level: trained (n = 24) and novice (n = 24). Type of stroke and ball impact position were registered using a computerized motion tracking video system. The ball impact position was computed from the distance (cm) between the coordinates of the ball and the player's center of gravity. Results show that trained players hit the ball in a more backward position (from 11 to 25 cm, compared to novice) in serve and offensive strokes (volleys, trays, and smashes) but used more forward strokes (from 7 to 32 cm, compared to novice) in defensive shots (groundstrokes, wall strokes, and lobs). Because the current differential variables are trainable and demonstrated to be of relevance for performance, the findings of this study may assist padel coaches in designing proper training plans to improve effectiveness and to prevent musculoskeletal injuries regarding the type of stroke and ball impact position. Such knowledge may constitute a very important factor affecting technique, biomechanics, and injury management in padel players of different competitive levels.
Keywords: biomechanics; game actions; overuse injury; racket sports.