When Albin Lyckåsen first played padel about a decade ago, he was immediately hooked. He became a coach, started a junior academy at his club and became a Babolat ambassador. He has done such a great job that he is now “Best Coach of the Year” in Sweden.
The Lyckåsen story began in 2014 when he first laid eyes on a padel court in Spain while on holiday with his family. He was 16. Although he initially thought the courts looked “weird” he decided to have a go with his brother. It was love at first sight.
Although Albin was ranked inside the top 50 in his age group as a junior tennis player in Sweden, he soon started to play padel competitively. “I can go on for some time about why it’s so fun,” he says, “but I think the main reason is the feeling of belonging.
“It’s also a sport that you can become good at, very quickly. If you do the right things and you train, you can become all right. And when you become all right, the sport becomes really fun.”
The other aspect Albin, now 24, loves about padel is its social side. “I made so many friends. It’s a great social game. In padel, your rivals can potentially be your partner. It’s a gentleman’s sport.”
‘Bringing padel to the city where I lived’
Because there weren’t many padel courts in Sweden at the time, Albin Lyckåsen’s father decided to build two courts with his business partners in his hometown of Bålsta, just outside Stockholm, in 2017. That facility has since grown to five courts.
“It was not really to make money,” he said. “It was more to bring this sport to the city where I lived. There is a lot of interest in padel now, with big money coming in from big investors. But that was not the case back then.”
In the last few years, padel has been booming in Sweden, making it the country’s fastest-growing sport. While practically no one had heard of it three years ago, there are now around half a million players nationwide, according to the Visit Stockholm website.
While Lyckåsen was trying to climb the padel rankings as a competitive player, he supported himself financially by working in a clothes shop. It was then that he had an epiphany and decided to become a padel coach.
“I didn't really like my life,” he said. “I wasn’t depressed, but I felt like I wanted to do something different. So I thought to myself, I enjoy padel and why can't I do this for a living?” During his training to become a coach, he supported himself financially as a substitute school teacher.
Since becoming a full-time coach three years ago, he has not looked back. “In the beginning it was hard because you need to have experience, that’s the difference between a good coach and a really good coach, in my opinion.”
‘Just doing what I love’
Albin did a few courses with Dani Dios, a well-known padel coach in Sweden. And in 2019, he started a junior academy at his own club, the Bålsta Padel Club, which has since grown into a programme with 70 kids.
Last year, he was awarded “Best Coach of the Year” in the first ever Padel Gala Awards in Sweden. “It was a shock,” he said. “I was just doing what I love and I was trying my best. It was quite unexpected, because I know there are a lot of good coaches.”
Albin Lyckåsen could have rested on his laurels and stayed at his home club. Instead he decided to push himself and take up a position as head coach of a large club in Eskilstuna and Visby last year. At just 24, he is now in charge of the entire training programme and coaching staff of the Padel Sports Club in south-eastern Sweden.
“It was hard to leave the kids,” he said, “but I thought it was important for my development as a coach to do this somewhere else.”