Unraveling the Bandeja: Padel's Crucial Shot Explained

As players progress from the humble skill of using the back glass and move into the more nuanced areas of the sport such as the bandeja, a padel lesson often turns into a Spanish language lesson. Last week we had the Vibora, remember what that means? And this week in the Padel Smash Series is no different. 

The bandeja is derived from the Spanish word for "tray." The reason the name came about is that when players got lobbed and were preparing to play this shot, they would hold the face of their racquet up to the sky akin to a waiter/waitress holding up a drinks tray. More recently, players don’t always want to give away which shot they are about to hit, so they tend to prepare for all smashes in a very similar away to disguise their shot.  

The bandeja is a crucial shot, somewhere between a smash and a forehand volley and it presents unique challenges for players, especially those transitioning from tennis as there is no comparable shot. When I think of a bandeja, I think “SPEED CONTROL.” It is a slower smash that buys you time to keep the net position. In this Coach's Corner piece, we'll delve into the intricacies of the bandeja, explaining its technique, contact points, and shot objectives.

Key Elements to Consider

  1. Move Back Early

The first step in executing a flawless bandeja is anticipation. Recognising the need for this shot and positioning yourself accordingly is crucial! By moving back early, you're ensuring you're in the ideal position to strike.

  1. Contact Point

Unlike other shots, the bandeja demands a specific contact point. It's crucial to make contact in front of your body and at eye level. This allows for control, precision and importantly, underspin. If you make contact anywhere else, you are technically not hitting a bandeja anymore, as you won’t be able to get underspin on the ball.

This slight adjustment in technique can make a world of difference in the outcome of your shot. Coach Fede from the Royal Padel Academy in Barcelona said the bandeja action is like skipping stones across water. I compare the action to throwing a frisbee for Max, except a forehand throw not a regular backhand throw. Where you release the stone or frisbee is where your contact point should be. 

  1. Rapid Return to Position

After making contact, the importance of returning to your original position cannot be overstated. This swift movement ensures that you retain your net position, a vital aspect of the bandeja's purpose.

Mastering the Technique

Preparation is key to executing a flawless bandeja. Players begin by positioning themselves sideways, then adjust to the trajectory of the lob, ensuring they're prepared to strike at eye level. This precise positioning sets the stage for a successful shot.

As the player executes the shot, the arm and racket head move forward, imparting a controlled downward motion to the ball. It's imperative to strike with finesse rather than excessive force, allowing for an extended contact period and precise direction. Rotating the shoulders enhances the forward motion, a crucial aspect especially for right-handed players, who lead with their right shoulder.

Shot Objectives

The primary aim of the bandeja is to buy yourself time to get back to the net Achieving this requires a strategic approach to where you hit the shot. 

  1. Into the Corner

Hitting your bandeja towards the glass offers an advantage in that the ball's speed slows upon hitting the glass, giving you precious time to reclaim the net. Also, it forces your opponent into the corner places them on the defensive, setting the stage for your next move.

  1. Down the Middle

Hitting the ball between your two opponents, with the second bounce near the back glass, is another strategic play. This disrupts their positioning, pushing them towards the back of the court. It's a boring yet powerful shot that can tip the scales in your favour.

Practicing the Bandeja

The bandeja is more than just a stroke; it's a tactical masterpiece that bridges the gap between defence and offense in padel. It has earned its place as an indispensable tool in the player's toolkit however, it is a difficult shot to master.  

One way to practice it is by yourself. Book a court and bring along a few balls. Toss the ball up like you would for a tennis serve. Really focus on the contact point at eye level in front of the body, and smash the ball over the net. You might find the ball is floating into the back glass because of the underspin, but the only way to build confidence in the shot is to keep practicing it. 

Book onto a private Coaching Session. Reach out to your coach and let them know you would like to work on the bandeja. They will take you through some progressions to get your bandeja on point. 

Group Sessions. Ask the coach when they will be working on the bandeja and jump in on that session. 

This article is part of the "Padel Smash Series," a collection of in-depth insights and techniques of the various padel smashes designed to elevate your game. For more content like this, be sure to explore my other articles via the UK PADEL app. Embrace the challenge and let the bandeja redefine your game.


Keep adding tools to your padel toolbox and see you on court soon!

Coach Jared

PADEL NOV 2021  (1 of 1)-14.jpg

« Back