GNP Acapulco P1 Premier Padel Men's Final - Coello/Tapia - Galan/Lebron on March 24, 2024
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Tips to be the number 1 padel player in the world

Learn from padel star Alejandro Galán as he reflects on what you should master to become the best padel player you can be.
Written by Javier Romero
14 min readPublished on

Starting out in the World of Padel: A Journey of Discovery

As a relatively new and remarkably fast-growing sport, padel is gaining thousands of new followers and players around the world every month. Many start out just for fun, most try to take their game to the next level, but very few get to the professional level. Through this piece, you will learn what it takes to become an elite padel player through Alejandro Galán’s – one of the best players in the history of padel – journey to the top.
Like many other top-performing athletes, Galán fell in love with his sport at a very early age. "I think padel knew me before I knew padel," says Galán, recounting the tale of how, just after he was born, his parents moved to a new flat complex that just so happened to have its own padel court. "Although we thought it was a tennis court that had been badly made,” he laughs.
Riyadh Season Premier Padel P1, SF 4 - Lebron/Galan - Stupaczuk/Di Nenno in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia, on March 1st, 2024

Galán’s smash shot is one of the deadliest on the professional circuit

© Premier Padel/Red Bull Content Pool

At the time, padel was a new sport in Spain. Galán quickly learned the ropes, playing as often as he could with neighborhood kids and his older sister. "I started because it was the sport my sister did," he reckons.
Padel tips for starters
Padel is a racket-based ball sport that could be described as a mixture of squash and tennis. It is played within an enclosed space like squash but shares similarities with tennis.
So the game is played with a net in the middle, like tennis, and the court also looks very similar. Like tennis, players must pass a ball over the net into an opponent's side by hitting it with their racket. However, in padel, the walls and fences within the enclosed court are key parts of the sport’s gamepley. Players are allowed to hit a ball after it bounces off a wall/fence to keep the ball in play.
I feel [padel is] beautiful, very social and a very elegant sport
Padel is mostly played by four people in a game of doubles, though it can also be played individually. Playing as pairs hark back to the game's social origins. "As a sport I feel it's beautiful, very social and a very elegant sport. Tennis has always been elegant and padel has added some elements that tennis doesn’t have, and in my opinion much better, making the sport more spectacular and more fun, as it's more social”, Galán says.
One of the most common mistakes amateur players make is to try to win the point in every shot. Especially at the amateur level, padel is a sport of mistakes. In other words, the team who makes the less mistakes or unforced errors is the one who usually wins. It is essential to be patient and not hesitate to play transition shots, build up the point, make the opponents move around the court, and make the right decision to try to win the point when the conditions are right.

The struggle: overcoming challenges in the padel arena

Galán is among the best players in the history of padel. Currently ranked second in the International Padel Federation ranking, he possesses remarkable versatility, exceptional abilities both on defense and offense, and unique skills to win points from any spot on the court, paired with his superb athleticism that make him a legend of the sport at just 27 years old.
But Galán’s road to the top wasn’t a straight one. His beginnings in the World Padel Tour, the highest stage of padel competition a few years ago, came in 2016, when he joined forces with Juan Cruz Belluati. For two years, the pair battled away, earning respectable achievements.
Alejandro Galan (L) and Juan Lebron (R) of Spain seen during the Ooredoo Qatar Major Premier Padel in Doha, Qatar on March 4, 2024.

Alejandro Galán and Juan Lebrón – one of the best pairs in padel history

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He wouldn’t win his first title at the highest level until 2018, when he formed a team with Matías Díaz. That same year, playing with legend Juani Mieres, he conquered the Buenos Aires Padel Master. Galán would then switch again to play with Pablo Lima, until he finally joined Juan Lebrón in 2020 to form one of the most devastating couples in padel history.
From 2020 to 2024, Galán and Lebrón became the number one team in the world, a position they held for three straight years, and won a stunning 33 titles at the highest level.
Now partnering with Federico Chingotto, with whom he is already winning trophies despite a short time together, Galán reflects on the goals he still strives to conquer, both within the sport and beyond.
Chingotto/Galan celebrate their win at the Lotto Brussels Premier Padel P2 presented by Belfius in Brussels, Belgium, on April 28th, 2024.

After 4 years playing with Lebrón, Galán now competes with Fede Chingotto

© Premier Padel/Red Bull Content Pool


Earning the trust: building confidence and credibility in padel

Back when he started playing, Galán got off to a strong start in the sport, soon entering tournaments and winning. But victory wasn’t a given. “When I started, I was under 10 years old. I was tall and I did well, but from then on, I stopped winning," he remembers.
With his family unable to financially support his training the same way wealthier families could, Galán felt like he was being left behind. Amazingly, he was given a grant from player-turned-coach Jorge Martínez to enable him to train, and threw himself into the sport wholeheartedly. "That's when I grew up and my level improved," he remembers. "I started winning and I became one of the best under-18s at national level."
That's been my evolution, based on training: daily work, effort and to give back the trust to people that trusted me
Galán knew the grant he received from Martínez was a unique opportunity that could propel his career towards higher levels. "When I got the grant, I thought, 'If they trust me, I should pay back their trust'.
As he progressed, “Ale” decided to progressively focus on padel over other areas: “I started to think more about padel – I became very involved because I wanted to pay back this present. That's been my evolution, based on training: daily work, effort and to give back the trust to people that trusted me."
Jorge Martínez, who provided the grant and is currently his coach, has been an instrumental figure. "He bet on me, he changed me, and he made me the player I am today," says Galán. "I still train at M3 Academy, which he owns. I started training with the academy when I was 18, and Jorge is always there. He gave me the opportunity.”

Idols in padel: inspirational figures who shape the game

Growing up, Galán didn’t watch much padel because he mainly followed football, but he did have a reference who inspired him with his playing style and personality: icon Juan Martín Díaz. "He's been an idol for many players from my era, he's always been a reference," says Galán. "Sometimes it's been said that my game is similar to his way of playing in some respects, but without drawing comparisons as he was world number one for 13 years."
Ale Galan performs in Madrid, Spain, on February 10, 2022.

Galán brings the power

© Jaime De Diego/Red Bull Content Pool

But the main idol Galán looked up to, the one who inspired him to envision a future in which he could become pro, was actually very close to him, and even lived in the same house.
"I was always looking up to my sister," he says. "She has always been very talented at sports.” Galán’s sister, Alba Galán, eventually reached number six in world doubles ranking, before announcing she would transition into coaching in 2023.

Family support: the backbone of success in padel

Galán says his sister’s success – and encouragement – has "helped me to have this small war among brother and sister. She has given me that motivation."
Naturally, the rest of his family helped, too. "Family has been key," he says. "Although maybe economically they couldn’t give me what other guys could enjoy, they've given everything they had for me to be here. My dad worked in catering, and I seldom saw him, he worked night and day to pay for my trips so that we could enter competitions. My mum lived and did everything for us."
The most valuable lessons he and Alba learned from their parents? “Work, sacrifice and, above all, effort.”

Motivations behind padel success: what drives champions

Like his former partner, Juan Lebrón Chincoa, Galán says he is motivated by the desire to win. "I like winning even when I play marbles!” he says.
But there is something deeper to this mentality. The drive to improve himself and surpass his own high expectations are what truly set Galán apart. "I still have room for improvement, so the daily challenge is to work towards improving and becoming better,” he says. “From there, the results will come.”
Unsurprisingly, a lot of this motivation comes from his sister, who has a tattoo of one of their father’s sayings: 'If you don’t take a risk, you don't win'.
Galán agrees with that sentiment, with the need to give it your all to achieve significant accomplishments. Galán takes training as seriously as the competition itself, with his drive to improve stemming from a deep love for padel. “I don’t consider training a sacrifice”, he says.
This mentality, focused on work and discipline, also translates to the way he and his partners play. "I think that marks the way we play. We take risks and we want to win, we try to win the points, to have the ball and to make the difference."

Growing stronger: the evolution of skills and resilience in padel

Galán's path to number one is defined by the setbacks along the way. It hasn't been easy, and the resilience to face challenges and obstacles has been the best learning tool. “Defeats made me stronger. They made me realise that winning is what I truly wanted," he says.
He remembers a particular tournament in 2017, in Miami, when he was playing the world’s best for one of the first times. "I lost in the semi-finals against Fernando Belasteguín and Pablo Lima, who were unstoppable," he recalls. "We had gone beyond our goals reaching the semis, we were winning the first set against the number one couple and they turned it around. My blood was boiling, I had almost beat them. The number one couple beat me and I said: ‘Why? Why did they beat me if I was better than them? Why didn't I keep it up?'.
Galán trained to beat the best, and these early failures left a bitter taste in his mouth. But they also made him work harder than ever.
Milano P1 - Day 6 - SF2 - Lebron/Galan - Chingotto/Navarro at the Milano Premier Padel 2023 at Allianz Cloud in Milano, Italy on December 9, 2023.

Ale Galán is known for his physical abilities

© Premier Padel/Red Bull Content Pool

In 2019, he set the goal of finishing number one. He was about to make it when Juan Lebrón took the title. They were direct rivals, but in the second half of the year they teamed up to become number one. For the first time, Galán wasn’t just playing to beat the best, or to play alongside the best. He was the best.

Mental motivation: harnessing the power of the mind in padel

The ups and downs of any sporting career require huge mental determination. "In 2018 I started working with my psychologist, Icíar Eraña. I think she's helped me a lot," says Galán.
He says that Eraña’s first job was to help him "tidy up" his training routine. "My life was a bit chaotic, there wasn’t order and having that structure outside the court was going to help me to focus on my tasks. At the end of the day it's the routine that a professional sport demands, the commitment I have with it, to rest and to take care of what you eat," he says.
Now he focuses on slowing down, doing one thing at a time and being in the present, instead of looking back at mistakes. He says it's helped him communicate more and improved his relationship with his coach and partner. To disconnect, he loves to go on holiday with friends and family.

Growing the sport of padel: initiatives to expand reach and impact

Padel has given Galán so much that he now wants to help grow the sport internationally. "It's well established in Spain, but at European and world level I think it can still grow," he says. "One of the main objectives in the mid-to-long term is to turn padel into an Olympic sport."
It's no good to want something sitting on a sofa, if you want something you have to make a huge effort, to train very hard, to live for that and to make sacrifices
Galán is often asked his advice for the next generation of padel players. "If you don't take a risk, you don't win”, he tells them. Galán, known to be one of the hardest-working players on the professional circuit, goes above and beyond to improve all parts of his game.
"It's no good to want something sitting on a sofa, if you want something you have to make a huge effort, to train very hard, to live for that and to make sacrifices," he says. Galán is aware of the enormous talent and hunger to win that the youngest players are showing: “I may become number one and maybe won't make it ever again because there are other players who do it better."
Chingotto/Galan in action at the Lotto Brussels Premier Padel P2 presented by Belfius in Brussels, Belgium on April 28th, 2024.

Galán in action

© Premier Padel/Red Bull Content Pool


Looking to the future: aspirations and goals in the world of padel

Galán wants to play as long as his body will allow him to remain competitive and perform at the highest level, aware that the passing of time will eventually force him to adapt to new realities: "I don't want to blur my achievements with bad results," he says.
Once his playing career is over, in a good 15 years or so, as he says, he would like to stay involved in the padel sphere. "The aim in the end is to create something beyond being a player and to leave the doors open for what motivates me in that moment. It might be becoming a coach, or maybe something to make the sport grow, like setting up clubs around the world."
But until that moment comes, Galán is laser-focused on what he can still do day to day to remain one of the best in the world. For now, it matters most that "the results start smiling on us. People say the difficult thing is to keep things up, stay at the top, rather than getting there. That's a very good goal. That's sport."


Who is the best male padel player?
Despite its relatively brief history, padel has evolved tremendously thanks to several legends that have been shaping the game for the past few years. Some of those icons who paved the way for the current generation include Fernando Belasteguín, Juan Martín Díaz, Roby Gattiker, and Alejandro Lasaigues.
Alejandro Galán, currently ranked second in the world, certainly remains one of the most dominant, versatile and spectacular players in the world, and has been at the top of the rankings consistently since 2020. His former teammate, Juan Lebrón, currently ranked fourth in the world, is another force to be reckoned with. His creative shots and strategic knowledge make him one of the most unique players on the professional tour.
Arturo Coello, a lefty player with a deadly smash and remarkable court coverage, is currently the highest-ranked player in the world, while his teammate, Agustín Tapia, a creative genius able to win points from almost anywhere on the court, is ranked third.
How much money does a padel player make?
Padel players’ earnings depend heavily on their results, positions in the rankings, visibility, and popularity. Premier Padel, the highest-level competition worldwide, awards tournament winners anywhere from 8.500€ for female winners of P2 tournaments, to 47.250€ for male winners of major tournaments. Prize money varies depending on how far each player advances in each tournament.
The other main sources of income for padel players are sponsors. Naturally, contracts coming from sponsors will be larger the more well known a padel player is, with top players earning the biggest sums. Top players also attract the biggest number of sponsors, visible on their racquet, apparel, shoes, bag, cap, social media pages, etc.
Is padel growing in the US?
Padel is experiencing rapid growth worldwide, and the US is no stranger to this phenomenon. Brands, ambassadors, coaches, and professional padel tournaments featuring the best players in the world are landing in the United States.
Padel in the US is still in very early stages, but all signs point to exponential growth in the coming years. With the current number of padel courts in the US reported to be around 200, the United States Padel Association (USPA) projects that by 2030, there will be over 30,000 courts.
What is level D in padel?
Like in many sports, there is not an officially recognized system to assess the level of amateur players accurately. Some countries are starting to adopt a numbers-based system in which zero is the lowest level, and seven is the highest one.
Other countries are implementing a letter or grade-based system, in which D is the beginner level, and A would be the professional level. If you are just starting to play padel and have no other relevant experience playing racquet sports, you will most likely be placed in a D-level group.

Watch Ale Galán on Red Bull TV

To watch padel at its highest level, you can follow the development of the elite professional circuit of this sport, the Premier Padel, which is broadcast by Red Bull TV. With live broadcasts at each of the circuit’s 25 stops, you can watch all the matches of each tournament from the quarter-finals onwards.

Part of this story

Alejandro Galán

Spanish padel star Alejandro Galán is one of the very best players in the world, reaching the rank of number one with partner Juan Lebrón.


Juan Lebrón Chincoa

A padel star from Spain, Juan Lebrón Chincoa has won numerous high profile tournaments and is regularly among the sport’s top-ranked players.